Does Yogurt Hurt Your Kidneys?

Creamy white yogurt with honey, figs and mint
Yogurt could present problems for those with impaired kidney function. (Image: 5PH/iStock/Getty Images)

Foods that are often considered healthy, such as milk or yogurt, can sometimes present health risks in those who suffer from kidney malfunction or potential kidney disease. Although yogurt in moderation typically does not present problems for healthy kidneys, eating too much yogurt and similar high-protein dairy products could affect the already compromised function of less-healthy kidneys.

The Function of Kidneys

The kidneys are vital to the body’s overall health. Kidneys are designed to help regulate the level of phosphorous in your blood. If your kidneys aren’t functioning at their fullest potential, it could lead to elevated phosphorous levels. This condition is known as hyperphosphatemia. As with most functions of the body, when one area is adversely affected, it has repercussions on other functions. In this case, the heightened levels of phosphorous can decrease the level of calcium in your blood, which increases your risk for bone disease.

Yogurt

Although yogurt can be a healthy addition to daily nutrition for many people, those who suffer from kidney disease or have the potential to develop kidney disease often have to pay special attention to how much yogurt they eat. Yogurt is not only high in phosphorous, it is also high in protein. High-protein foods break down into waste products – nitrogen and creatinine – that are removed from the blood in healthy kidneys. Diseased kidneys, however, are unable to prevent these waste products from building in the blood and causing other problems.

Because yogurt is high in calcium, there is some increased risk of developing kidney stones from eating too much yogurt; however, kidney stones are often prevented by drinking recommended servings of water and fluids daily.

Other Dairy Products

Yogurt is certainly not alone in its potential threat to ill-functioning kidneys. Other dairy products are also best avoided in large quantities for those whose kidney health is in jeopardy. Physicians typically recommend that patients with compromised kidneys reduce their intake of yogurt, cheese, milk and other dairy products and substitute it with other options. Meat is also high in protein and could be part of a limited diet for some patients.

Risky? It Depends

For those with healthy kidneys, eating lots of yogurt may not present a problem, except for the slightly increased risk of kidney stones. For those who suffer from poor kidney health, or those who could develop kidney disease in the future, yogurt intake should be monitored based on a physician’s recommendations.

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