The kidneys do hard work. Filtering and excreting waste products into the bloodstream is just the beginning. Your kidneys also maintain the body’s fluid balance and release hormones that make red blood cells, ensure healthy bones, and regulate blood pressure.
We work hard on our kidneys, both knowingly and unknowingly, through diet, medications, and environmental toxins. The result can be a fight against kidney cancer, stones, polycystic kidney disease, or even kidney failure.
Some stresses on our kidneys cannot be avoided, and since they are designed to handle toxins, we can trust our kidneys to be strong. But any organ can be overloaded and damaged.
You may be surprised how many foods can harm your kidneys, even those that seem healthy. Make sure you don’t go overboard on any of the following 7 foods.
If you are prone to kidney stones, walnuts are not a good snack. They contain a category of mineral called oxalates, which is found in the most common type of kidney stone. If you’ve had stones in the past, it’s best to avoid walnuts altogether.
For healthy people, it is important to know your intake of foods that contain oxalate, such as spinach, beets, potato chips, potato chips, and bran flakes.
Some of these items, including nuts, can be very healthy additions to your diet. But as in all things, balance is key. Choose a variety of vegetables instead of just spinach, and eat nuts only in moderation.
Not avocados! These creamy and delicious green fruits are what taught us that eating fat is okay. However, avocados also come with a high dose of potassium, which controls fluids, electrolyte balance, and pH level.
The kidneys depend on the correct balance of potassium and sodium to do their job properly; too much of either can create problems.
Hyperkalemia is what is called having too much potassium in the blood, and this occurs in people with advanced kidney disease. It often causes nausea, weakness, numbness, and a slow heart rate.
Luckily, you don’t have to worry too much about avocados or potassium if you don’t have pre-existing kidney disease. Regardless, most of us don’t have enough potassium in our daily diets.
5. The caffeine
This is difficult if you depend on your morning cup of coffee or tea to start each day. Soda and energy drinks are equally dangerous if you already have problems with your kidneys. Studies show that long-term caffeine consumption can make chronic kidney disease worse and may increase the risk of kidney stones.
Caffeine is a mild diuretic, affecting the kidneys’ ability to absorb water. In reasonable amounts, this shouldn’t stop your kidneys from getting enough water to do their job, but too much can be a problem.
Caffeine also stimulates blood flow and therefore increases blood pressure. Again, it is not a problem if you have normal blood pressure, but rather something to watch out for if your blood pressure is high.
4. Dairy products
Products Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, are loaded with calcium and increase the level of calcium in your urine. This has been linked to an increased risk of kidney stones.
For people who already have kidney disease, cutting back on dairy products has been found to make the filtering work done by the kidneys easier for them. This can delay the need for dialysis.
Butter is a dairy product high in saturated fat, which increases the risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, heart disease is a major risk factor for kidney disease, and kidney disease poses similar risks to the heart.
Switch to olive oil with your favorite herbs to coat bread and garnish vegetables to reduce your dependence on butter.
Sodium works in combination with potassium to maintain fluid balance in your body, which is crucial for proper kidney function. But most of us consume too much sodium in our diets, even before putting salt on the table. Processed products contain a lot of salt, more than you might even imagine.
Too much sodium causes the kidneys to retain water to dilute the salt in the bloodstream, placing an undue burden on them.
A long-term salt habit raises blood pressure and can damage the kidney’s nephrons, the microscopic structures that filter waste. Eat fresh, whole foods as much as possible so you can control the salt level.
Meat contains a significant amount of protein. Now, protein is very important for the growth processes and health of our muscles, but its metabolism is one of the most difficult jobs our kidneys do.
A diet high in animal protein also increases the risk of kidney stones. For those reasons, a high-protein diet is not recommended for people with kidney disease.
Meat, especially organ meat like liver, also has a high concentration of purine. Purine stimulates the production of uric acid, a waste product that is normally processed in the kidneys. Too much purine is overwhelming and can cause stones.
1. Artificial sweeteners
If you’re relying on artificial sweeteners in an effort to reduce your sugar intake, you’re actually not doing your body any favors.
While opinions on the overall safety of these sugar substitutes are mixed, we know that just two diet sodas per day will cause a decrease in kidney function.
Some studies have concluded that people who use artificial sweeteners in their drinks don’t actually consume less sugar overall, but if you still want to use a sugar substitute, stevia is your best option.
Stevia is a natural herbal extract that has been used in South America for hundreds of years with no reported adverse effects.
Each of the foods and food additives on our list is best eaten in moderation because of the load they put on your kidneys.
Most are not necessarily dangerous if you have healthy kidney function, but they are definitely not recommended for people who have been diagnosed with kidney disease.
And since the kidneys play such a vital role in detoxifying the body, it makes perfect sense to take care of them while you can.