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How A Bad Diet Can Affect Kidney Function

bad diet and kidney

One in 10 American adults - more than 20 million of us - have some level of chronic kidney disease. It is becoming more common, especially among those over the age of 60. You may not think about keeping your kidneys healthy, but you should. And improving your diet is the perfect place to start.


New research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham has found that a diet high in processed meats, fried foods and sugar sweetened beverages results in a higher risk of death in those with chronic kidney disease. The risk, says lead author Orlando Gutierrez MD, is a whopping 50% increase over a 6 to 7 year period.

Chronic Kidney Disease often has no early symptoms.

What you may be thinking now is “My kidneys are fine, I have no symptoms.” But people with early chronic kidney disease do not often have any symptoms. However, your kidneys are not filtering blood as well as healthy organs and therefore wastes remain in the body, causing problems. Without treatment, the disease can progress to full kidney failure.

Per the CDC, adults with diabetes or high blood pressure both have a higher risk of developing CKD than those without the diseases. Approximately 1 of 3 adults with diabetes and 1 of 5 adults with high blood pressure has CKD. As mentioned earlier, aging also increases the risk.’

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Just as choosing a healthy diet is extremely important for controlling those diseases that lead to CKD, eating the right foods can help control the buildup of waste products and fluid in the blood in those who already have some level of kidney dysfunction. Eating properly may also slow the progression of the loss of kidney function once it is already present.

Controlling Sodium

Controlling sodium intake is one of the most important steps to treating chronic kidney disease. Limit these foods:
■ seasonings like soy sauce, teriyaki sauce and garlic or onion salt
■ most canned foods and some frozen foods
■ processed meats like ham, bacon, sausage and cold cuts
■ salted snack foods like chips and crackers
■ most restaurant and take-out foods
■ canned or dehydrated soups (like packaged noodle soup)

Depending upon your level of kidney dysfunction, you may need to limit other nutrients in your diet such as phosphorus and potassium. Be sure to visit your healthcare provider and discuss your current health needs, and call a registered dietitian to help you design a diet plan that works best for you!

University of Alabama at Birmingham – Southern Style Eating Increases Risk of Death for Kidney Disease Patients
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - 2014 National Chronic Kidney Disease Fact Sheet
The National Kidney Foundation

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