The kidneys are vital organs that filter waste and excess fluid from the body. An individual with kidney impairment may wonder how he can help his kidney function in a natural way. It is usually not possible to reverse kidney damage, but the progression of kidney disease can often be slowed by modifying the diet. It is important to follow physician and dietitian recommendations regarding nutrition.
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Water consumption is a beneficial way to help maintain kidney health. Beverages containing large amounts of sugar, caffeine or protein cause extra stress for the kidneys. An individual with kidney disease should drink the amount of fluids recommended by his physician; fluid restrictions are required when the kidneys do not function well enough to rid the body of excess fluid. Most adults should consume around eight cups of fluid each day.
Stressed kidneys may be unable to rid the body of excess sodium, causing it to remain in the bloodstream. This causes fluid retention which can lead to swelling and difficult breathing. A person with chronic kidney disease may need to limit her dietary sodium, explains the National Kidney Foundation. This can be often be accomplished by avoiding table salt, processed foods, full-sodium canned vegetables and full-sodium restaurant foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables are usually good choices. Some individuals are placed on a severe sodium restriction; they must tabulate daily sodium intake and eat special foods, such as low-sodium bread.
Protein is important for overall health, but a waste product is produced after protein is used. Damaged kidneys have difficulty removing this waste product from the blood, making a low-protein diet a necessity for some kidney patients. People with a mild kidney impairment may be advised to limit animal-based protein, such as beef, chicken, poultry, organ meats, eggs, cheese and milk. A person with a more severe kidney impairment may also have to limit plant-based proteins such as nuts and beans.
Weak kidneys are unable to properly remove phosphorus from the blood, relates the National Kidney Foundation. High phosphorus levels can cause the bones to lose calcium, leading to fractures. Kidney patients are often advised to limit the phosphorus content in their foods. Foods often restricted include beer, yogurt, cheese, milk, fish, poultry, beef, eggs, nuts and beans.
Avoid or Limit Alcohol
An individual with kidney disease may be told to abstain from alcohol or limit its use, as alcohol can stress the kidneys. Men are generally advised to drink no more than two alcoholic beverages a day while women are instructed to limit alcohol to one drink each day.