8 Foods That May Harm Your Kidneys

The kidneys are one of the vital organs in the body. They play a crucial role in filtering the blood and removing toxins from the body through urine. The kidneys also help maintain fluid balance, produce hormones (including erythropoietin, calcitriol, and renin), balance mineral, and keep healthy electrolyte levels.

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Many factors can lead to kidney failure or decreased kidney function, exceptionally high blood pressure, and diabetes. When kidney failure occurs, the body loses its ability to remove excess fluid and waste, building up and cause various other health complications.

However, you can avoid these complications by maintaining a healthy diet and limiting certain foods’ consumption.

Here are 8 foods that you should limit or avoid on a renal diet to maintain healthy kidneys.


8. Red Meat

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Red meat, such as beef, pork, and lamb, is a primary source of proteins crucial to muscle and bone development and red blood cell production. Therefore, it’s essential to include it in your diet.

However, it has a health risk if consumed in high quantity.

According to a study published in the Journal of Renal Nutrition, each one-day-serving per day increase in total red meat and processed red meat was associated with a significant 15 percent and 28 percent increased chronic kidney disease risks.

When we consume red meat, our body metabolizes it from protein to acids. While the kidneys produce the substances to help the body remove the acids from our system, it becomes challenging for the kidneys to do that if the acids are present at high levels, which ends up harming the kidneys, leading to a condition called acidosis.


7. Alcohol

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Alcohol, in several ways, can contribute to kidney problems. Alcoholic drinks contain toxins that the kidneys need to filter from the body to ensure a healthy blood-fluid balance. When excess alcohol is consumed (more than four drinks per day), the kidneys get overworked and drastically affect their function. It even worsens if the alcohol abuse had caused liver disease, leaving all the body filtration function to the kidneys.

Alcohol also induces frequent urination, affecting the kidneys’ ability to maintain the right water and electrolyte balance. If these substances are not quickly replaced, it can lead to dehydration and expose you to the risk of developing kidney stones.

Also, excess alcohol consumption can lead to high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, ultimately causing kidney disease.


6. Table Salt

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Sodium plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy water and electrolyte balance within and outside the body’s cells and ensuring proper muscles and nerves’ adequate function.

However, excess sodium intake, either in food or other forms, can lead to fluid imbalance, causing high blood pressure and damage to the body’s filtering system– called nephrons. It can also cause edema (swollen extremities), fluids to buildup in the lungs, and increase strain on the heart.

You must take care of the amount of salt you consume, avoiding salty snack foods, cured foods, and canned goods, especially if you have a family history of CKD or an existing kidney condition.

5. Caffeine

Everyone is guilty of over-indulging in caffeine. We consume caffeine in coffee or tea to boost our energy levels and stay active, especially if we are working late nights. However, caffeine does have adverse effects that may consequently damage the kidneys if you’re not careful.

Drinking more than 3-4 cups of coffee a day is considered excessive by experts and can lead to a sudden spike in blood pressure. Due to its diuretic property, caffeine can cause an increased urine output, which may lead to dehydration. And if this caffeine-induced dehydration worsens, it can result in kidney stones.

Therefore, it’s advised to moderate your caffeine intake and limit the number of additives (milk and processed sugar) you add to your coffee or tea.

4. Sodas and Energy Drinks

According to medical research, carbonated drinks are associated with an increased risk of chronic kidney disease. Especially cola drinks that can cause urinary changes and promote kidney stones.

Sugar-sweetened sodas and fruit juice contain a high sugar level, which can cause weight gain, insulin resistance, increased blood pressure, damage kidney tissue, and affect their ability to filter blood.

All these together eventually lead to decreased kidney function that may result in kidney failure. Cola beverages, which contain high phosphorus levels, have a diuretic property that affects the body’s blood and water balance, resulting in kidney stones. It may also lead to hematuria, a condition where blood leaks into the urine.

3. Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are used in beverages like diet sodas to replace processed sugar, which is unhealthy for the body. But even these have been shown to affect the kidneys negatively. Research that compared kidney function of women between 1989 and 2000 revealed a 30 percent decline in kidney function for the women who drank two or more diet sodas a day.

Research has also concluded that just 2 diet sodas per day will end in a drop in kidney function. Really, it’s best to cut the soda habit altogether. If you are still looking for a better substitute for sugar, try all-natural stevia or honey.

2. Dairy products

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Dairy products contain many nutrients that are highly beneficial and necessary for proper body function. Like all dietary meals, excess dairy product consumption may not be healthy.

Consuming a high quantity of dairy products like milk, cheese, and eggs can lead to calcium phosphate kidney stones and uric acid stones. These conditions respectively occur when calcium in the urine combines with phosphate in these foods and when the urine becomes too acidic.

However, if you eat these foods in moderation, you can reap their health benefits and can even delay the need for dialysis if you’re a chronic kidney disease patient.

1. Non-organic Food

Non-organic products such as commercial food, frozen foods, baked goods, and convenience foods contain chemical preservatives, which can be harmful to the body. These preservatives are difficult to breakdown and eject from the body and can continually build up in our system. That can eventually lead to oxidative damage to the kidney and CKD.

Non-organic food also contains high sodium content, which is not healthy for the kidneys as it can affect the body fluid balance.

These pieces of information can confuse everyone. But the concluding opinion of this article is to develop your kidney well-being with a good diet of foods. If you invest caring work to your kidneys without overloading work, they will thank you for it. By all means, have your morning coffee, enjoy an occasional steak, and don’t fret about indulging your love of cheese sometimes. Just eat organic as much as you can and ditch the sodas.