Kidney Cleanse

Top 9 Foods to Avoid for Kidney Health: Bonus tips for strong kidneys

Are you wondering if the signs you are experiencing indicate Chronic Kidney Disease(CKD)?

Chances are that you are right. Commonly, people find out they are suffering from any sort of kidney disorder at a later stage.

Whether you are experiencing kidney related disorders or not, some important information about how to maintain healthy kidneys can be helpful. 

Here is a short and useful set of information about kidney health, a list of foods to avoid for kidney health, and other lifestyle tips.


1. Why is kidney health important?

Kidneys perform a major role in our bodies—filtering the toxic wastes from our blood. Each minute, a healthy set of kidneys filter half a cup of blood of wastes and excess water.

The same is excreted from our bodies as urine. They are also responsible for producing hormones that help us maintain healthy blood pressure, and have sufficient red blood cells in our bodies.

Our kidneys are affected due to reasons like diabetes, hypertension, heredity, long-term use of certain medicines, poor diet, etc.

These result in symptoms like unusual changes in urine frequency, pain in the bowel area, fatigue, difficulty falling asleep, loss of appetite, etc. The blanket term for any kind of illness in the kidney or renal health is called “Chronic Kidney Disease”.



Image Credits: Unsplash


In the earlier stages, the symptoms may not be prominent, but at a later stage of the disease, the patient may need regular dialysis or a kidney transplant. As many as one in three adults in the US are at risk of developing kidney disease. (1)

2. Important factors to maintaining healthy kidneys

Did you know that kidney disorders are one of the leading causes of death in the US? (2)

It is known to affect people of older ages more often, but it starts much earlier in the body.

Chronic kidney disease is treated with lifestyle changes and medication in the earlier stages. But if it is not checked, and it aggravates, one may need to undergo dialysisa process that involves cleaning the blood using a dialysis machine.

Under extreme conditions of kidney failure, doctors may suggest a kidney transplant. Finding a healthy kidney donor is a big challenge though.

There is ofcourse more to this. Find out how to avoid kidney problems and dig in deep into the issue. 

Maintaining healthy kidneys

Image source: Metropolis healthcare


3. Food in Kidney Health: Which food is bad for kidney?

If the procedure of filtering out wastes from our body is afflicted, it is wise to consider what goes inside our bodies. Maintaining a healthy diet is the top suggestion doctors provide to their patients with CKD.

Diet plans for a person with an early stage Chronic Kidney Disease would differ from someone at a later stage, having kidney stones, undergoing dialysis, or probably experiencing kidney failure.

But most healthcare professionals would recommend going on a renal diet. (3)
This diet focuses on reduced or controlled consumption of four minerals or nutritional components.

  • Sodium (4)
  • Potassium (5)
  • Protein (6)
  • Phosphorous (7)

Anybody suffering from a kidney disorder, or their caregivers should be aware of the different food items that are high in any of these nutrients.


4. Foods to avoid with kidney problems & their alternatives





Image Credits: Stryx


Soda is clearly one of the top foods to avoid for kidney health. They are full of empty calories that do nothing good for the body. What you get is weight gain, dehydration, and a high amount of phosphorus.
Yes, a medium serving of a glass of cola (512gm) contains approximately 46.1 mg of phosphorus! (

Aerated beverages are also high in sugars, sodium, and potassium. So, you are not just inviting obesity, but also diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and hypertensionthe usual culprits behind chronic kidney disease. 

Aim to replace all of your soda consumption with water, or water-based drinks. You can even try a kidney and liver detox drinkfor a change. 



Processed Meats


Processed meat

Image Credits: Unsplash


Processed meats usually are full of sodium and generally high in protein. A 100gm serving of processed meat may have sodium content as high as 1680 mg and 33.9 g of protein. (9)

The process of processing meat for cooking later involves using lots of salt and preservatives which makes them harmful to the kidneys.

Pepperoni, bacon, sausage, bologna, ham, etc. Should definitely remain absent from your pantry. If you want to indulge in eating meat, it is better to use freshly roasted turkeys, chicken, and other lean meats.






Image Credits: Nippon Express

Bananas may generally be considered a healthy fruit to have, but it is one food that is not good for kidneys. The reason is its high potassium content. A cup of mashed bananas contains over 800 mg of potassium. (10)

That can put a strain on the kidneys.

But you can always replace bananas with other kidney-friendly fruits such as apples, pineapples, blueberries, etc. They are low on potassium but packed with other minerals like manganese and lots of fiber. 


Sugary Foods


Sugary foods

Image Credits: LifeLine Screening

Anything laden with sugar can harm your kidneys by increasing your blood sugar levels. Diabetes patients need special concern in this area. Sweets like candies, ice cream, cakes, etc. can give you an instant energy hike due to the sugar rush.

Later, you will experience sluggishness and a drop in your energy level. The same happens to the kidneys. They have a hard time filtering out excess sugar from the blood.



Dairy Products


Dairy products

Image Credits: Harvard Health Publishing

Milk is a great source of calcium that helps in getting strong bones, but it works adversely for chronic kidney disorder patients. Milk and milk products also happen to be a great source of protein, potassium, and phosphorus. A cup of milk contains about 222 mg of phosphorus and 349 mg of potassium. (11)

Dairy products like butter may also contain saturated fats. They can narrow your arteries, and make kidney function slow.

You can try replacing your regular milk with soy milk or almond milk. They have fewer saturated fats and other harmful minerals for CKD patients.

There is always a smoothie to the rescue. Try the kidney detox smoothie to improve your kidney health and cut out the harmful diet. 






Image Credits: Unsplash

Dry fruits like apricots and raisins may usually be considered healthy for snacking, but they are among the foods that cause kidney damage. They may contain high amounts of potassium, proteins, and even sugar.

A 100 g serving of dried apricots contains as much as 1160 mg of potassium. One needs to be cautious about consuming dry fruits and keep them to a minimum.

Opt for alternatives like dried cranberries.






Image Credits: California Avocado

Avocados may be popular as superfoods with healthy fats, but they can be considered among foods bad for the kidney. A 100 g serving of this fruit contains as high as 507 mg of potassium. Cutting back on guacamole should then not require second-guessing.

Papaya is a great alternative.


Packaged Fast Food


Packaged fast food

Image Credits: Fast Company

While almost all types of fast foods are unhealthy, packaged foods are some of the worst foods for kidney problems. They are high in sodium-containing salts, preservatives, saturated fats, and trans fats.

Researches indicate high phosphorus content in most of packaged fast foods owing to the preservatives. (12)

A double whopper cheeseburger made at Burger King may contain a whopping 1780 mg of sodium and 44 g of protein! (13)

There are plenty of health food cafes you can visit instead of fast food outlets. Besides, you can also carry healthy home cooked snacks with low salt and sugar.





Image Credits: Garlic and Zest

Pickles are notoriously high in sodium. Whether you are opting for pickled olives, cucumber, or any other pickle, each serving is going to shoot up your blood sodium levels. A single spear of approximately 40 gm of pickled cucumber contains about 362 mg sodium! (14)

Try natural herbs like thyme, basil, and fennel as alternatives.


5. Ways to a healthy kidney besides avoiding bad foods for kidney 

If you or your loved ones are suffering from any sort of kidney disorder, there is hope. While being careful about food habits is imminent for maintaining healthy kidneys, there is a lot more to do. Take a look at the following simple habits to incorporate for the same.

  • Maintain an active lifestyle. With regular exercise of your choice, you can keep obesity, hypertension, and diabetes at bay.
    Even simple choices like using stairs instead of the elevator can make a difference. While exercising regularly, be mindful of consuming 
    energy drinks in moderation as they can cause kidney problems. 

    Active lifestyle
    Image Credits: Unsplash

  • ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

  • Avoid self-medication. Without a proper consultation with a doctor, chances are that you might be over-consuming painkillers like ibuprofen. They damage the kidneys.
  • ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

  • Drink sufficient amounts of water. It helps wash away waste deposits like sodium from the kidney and maintain kidney health. A regular 6-8 glasses a day is recommended for an average adult.

    Drink water
    Image Credits: Unsplash

  • ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

  • Stop smoking. It is known to damage blood vessels. This consequently leads to poor blood flow to the kidneys, thereby harming them. Smoking may also lead to developing kidney cancer.

    Stop smoking
    Image Credits: Unsplash

  • ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

  • Get yourself tested if you have underlying conditions like hypertension & diabetes. Even a family history of these diseases puts you at a higher risk. A simple kidney function test would do.


    6. End note

    Kidney health is important as it helps us filter out wastes from our bodies. But, due to several health conditions like hypertension and diabetes, people suffer from chronic kidney disease. A lot of lifestyle changes can help in managing this condition.

    Among them, knowledge of a healthy diet, and knowing which foods to avoid for kidney health are important.

    Avoiding foods high in sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and proteins usually helps in maintaining healthy kidneys.


    Written By Ankit Bajoria.

    Can Coffee Cause Kidney Pain?