5 Ways Your Diet Can Help Protect Your Kidneys

table laden with fruits, vegetables, grains and lean meats
Kidney disease develops over time and is more common in those over the age of 60. Many people who have kidney disease don’t realize it until it has progressed. But what you eat can help you keep your kidneys healthy to prevent or manage kidney disease.

1. Not too much protein

Protein is an important part of a healthy diet, but eating more protein than you need can cause your kidneys to work harder to remove waste in your blood. A person who weighs 150 pounds needs approximately 40 – 54 grams of protein per day, which is 4 to 6 ounces of protein from animal or plant sources. Try to eat healthier protein and be mindful of portion sizes.

Good sources of protein include:

  • Lean meat, fish, or skinless poultry (one portion is 2 to 3 ounces, or about the size of a deck of cards)
  • Eggs (one portion is 2 eggs)
  • Dairy (one portion of yogurt or milk is ½ cup, while one portion of cheese is 1 ounce)
  • Beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas (one portion is ½ cup)
  • Nuts (one portion is ¼ cup)

2. More fiber

Fiber creates beneficial compounds that improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation. Both are important for kidney health. This process also reduces the production of toxins that are damaging to kidneys.

Good sources of fiber include:

  • Fresh fruit such as pears, strawberries, apples, and avocados
  • Vegetables
  • Beans and lentils

3. Carbs aren’t so simple

Carbohydrates are a main source of energy for your body. Complex carbs that occur naturally in fresh foods are filled with fiber to support heart and gut health.

Healthy carbs include:

  • Whole grains
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Beans and lentils

Try to avoid or reduce simple carbs, such as added sugars in desserts, sweetened beverages, and packaged foods, which can increase blood sugar and increase the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

4. Limit fat

What’s bad for your heart is bad for your kidneys. Diets high in saturated and trans fats increase the risk of heart disease. Try to limit saturated fats, which include meats, full-fat dairy products, butter, lard, and coconut oil. And try to avoid trans fats, which can be found in baked goods and fried foods. Instead, increase your intake of heart-healthy unsaturated fats, which can be found in fatty fish, avocados, olives, walnuts, and vegetable oils.

5. Be mindful of alcohol

Alcohol is a waste product that your kidneys have to filter out of your blood. A high alcohol intake has been liked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, which can lead to kidney disease.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends that alcohol consumption for people over age 65 should be no more than seven drinks a week and no more than three drinks on any one day. If you have a health problem, or are taking certain medicines, you may need to drink less, or not at all. Talk to your doctor about what is right for you.