Too much is never good – and some of your favourite foods can be bad for your kidneys if you overindulge. For World Kidney Day, have a quick look to ensure your diet isn't putting these vital organs under pressure.

The kidneys are super filters that remove waste and extra fluid from your body. That’s not all they do. Kidneys regulate your blood pressure. They make the hormone erythropoietin which tells the bone marrow to produce red blood cells and produce an active form of vitamin D which you need to absorb calcium and phosphorus. Food can raise or lower your body’s acid level but your kidneys balance the pH of your body.

There are things you can do to help your kidneys stay healthy – and you can probably guess most of them. But the surprising one is not eating too much of certain healthy foods. Here are some of them.

Avocados are delicious and healthy but can be bad for the kidneys – especially if you have a kidney disease already. The reason is their very high level of potassium. You need this mineral but too much in the blood can cause problems such as muscle cramps and an irregular heartbeat. Keep it down to half and no more than one avo per day, experts recommend.

Bananas can also lead to potassium overload, so don’t snack on more than two per day.

Meat and dairy are often hard to metabolise (break down), so too much can make it harder for kidneys to get rid of waste. Dairy has a high amount of phosphorus that might put kidneys under pressure.

Eating a lot of animal proteins can also cause kidney stones – hard crystals that can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. These form when certain chemicals in urine stick together. About 90 percent of stones will pass by themselves but the rest could cause problems and require surgery.

See if you can cut down on the meats and dairy and go for colourful plant foods and nuts, which are full of good stuff and can prevent chronic disease.

Processed deli meats can have a lot of sodium and also nitrates, which have been linked to cancer. Eat leaner meats like chicken, turkey or ostrich.

Too much salt makes your kidneys work harder to get rid of the extra sodium. They might start retaining water, which could lead to high blood pressure.

Season your food with spices and herbs instead of salt and avoid pre-made or processed foods as they often contain a lot of salt. About a teaspoon of salt is the most you should have per day.

There is sugar in almost every food. Fruit is a source of natural sugar and also contain many vitamins and minerals we need. But foods with added sugar are often not all that healthy. Try to have cereals, coffee, and tea without sugar. Avoid sweets and things that are obviously full of sugar.

Fizzy drinks, even the kind with no sugar, can contribute to kidney stones forming. Rather have water – flavoured with some fresh fruit or mint leaves if you like.

Whole-wheat bread is healthy and nutritious, but too much can make things worse if you have a kidney problem. The reason is high amounts of phosphorus and potassium.

Potassium is also the reason you should take it easy with oranges and orange juice. They are rich in vitamin C but also have a high level of potassium. Don’t drink more than 240 ml of juice per day (it’s equal to having one orange).

Most kidney problems follow other health issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. That’s why some of the things you can do to keep kidneys healthy are good for other reasons as well. Here are eight golden rules (source: for reducing the risk of kidney disease.

  • Keep fit, be active to help maintain ideal body weight, reduce your blood pressure and the risk of chronic kidney disease.
  • Eat a healthy diet for better body weight, reducing blood pressure, preventing diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions.
  • Check and control blood sugar. About half of people who have diabetes do not know they have diabetes.
  • Check and control blood pressure. High blood pressure can damage your kidneys. 
  • Take in fluids: The right level depends on many things, but most experts say have water regularly rather than a lot in one go. Also drink when you’re thirsty, not to reach some kind of water quota such as eight glasses per day.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking slows the flow of blood to the kidneys, which might make it harder for them to work normally. Smoking also increases the risk of kidney cancer by about 50 per cent.
  • Don’t take over-the-counter pills for inflammation or pain too often. Medication such as ibuprofen can harm the kidneys, so check with your pharmacist.
  • Get your kidney function checked if you have any high-risk factors: diabetes, hypertension, obesity, a family history of kidney disease.


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