How Food Factors in with Chronic Kidney Disease

Having food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances aren’t the only considerations when choosing what foods that are safe to eat. As we age, other health conditions can also factor in, such as heart disease and kidney disease. Suddenly, watching what you eat just got more complicated.

But chances are if you must eat for multiple food allergies, you may be eating healthier anyway. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) runs in our family and there are things to know when factoring in eating for this disease along with multiple food issues.

Even with having food issues, working with a dietician is a good decision, and it is further recommended if you have CKD. Dieticians can work with your doctors and monitor your disease through bloodwork and other tests. If dieticians aren’t a viable option right now, there are ways to eat you should be aware of that may help your kidneys from getting worse.

At the bottom of this blog is a link to National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease that supply some guidelines for eating healthy for CKD and the foundation of this blog.

What is chronic kidney disease?

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) means your kidneys can’t filter blood the way they should due to being damaged. This damage can cause wastes to build up in your body. CKD can also cause other health problems. It is common among adults in the United States with more than 37 million American adults diagnosed with CKD.

You may have CKD with no clear symptoms and discover you have this disease through routine blood tests. Many people, learning they have kidney disease believe it will lead to dialysis, however for most people that is not the case. You can continue to live a productive life, work, spend time with friends and family, stay physically active, and do other things you enjoy. You may have to change what you eat and add healthy habits to protect your kidneys.

To learn more about CKD and how kidneys function, please refer to the link below.

Cut back on salt and sodium

  • You should have no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily
  • Try to eat fresh foods instead of packaged or prepared foods so you can control the level of sodium. Packaged and prepared foods are often full of sodium. This includes eating out at restaurants or especially fast food.
  • Cook with spices, herbs, and sodium free options of seasoning.
  • Check nutrition labels for a sodium content. 20% or more is considered a high level of sodium.
  • Rinse canned foods to wash off the extra sodium

Eating protein and how it affects your kidneys

Eating protein produces a waste product that the kidneys must remove. Eating too much protein makes your kidneys work harder. With CKD, the kidneys are already compromised, so too much protein burdens them further.

It is best to eat small portions of protein. Protein is found in both plants and animals. Examples of plant proteins and portions are:

  • Beans – ½ cup of cooked beans
  • Nuts – ¼ cup
  • Grains – 1 piece of bread, ½ cup of cooked rice or cooked noodles

Examples of animal proteins and portions are:

  • Chicken – 2-3 ounces
  • Fish – 2-3 ounces
  • Meat – 2-3 ounces
  • Eggs
  • Dairy – ½ cup of milk, yogurt, or one slice of cheese

When you have food allergies, sensitivities, or intolerances some of these food groups may be eliminated. In our case, beans, chicken, eggs, and dairy are not an option. That forces us to look at other fewer low-fat options for protein in small portions that can still work with CKD.

Watch your fat intake

Fat from foods can wreak havoc in your body. It’s important to keep fat from building up in your blood vessels, heart, and kidneys. Here are some good ways to prepare your food to assure the least amount of fat intake:

  • Grill, broil, bake, roast, or stir-fly foods, instead of deep frying.
  • Use nonstick cooking spray or a small amount of olive oil instead of butter
  • Cook with non-stick pans where no oil is necessary
  • Trim fat from meat and remove skin from poultry before eating
  • Limit saturated and trans fats.
  • Read nutrition labels to find what fats are included

Heart-healthy foods include:

  • Lean cuts of meat, such as loin or round
  • Poultry without the skin
  • Fish
  • Beans
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt, and cheese

Limiting alcohol. As my doctors always say, if you don’t drink, don’t start. If you do, keep it to one drink per day if you’re a woman, and no more than two if you are a man. Too much alcohol can damage the liver, heart, and brain.

Chronic kidney disease can result in phosphorus build-up

High levels of phosphorus are damaging to your bones and blood vessels. With CKD, phosphorus can build up in your blood. Too much phosphorus in your blood pulls calcium from your bones, so your doctor will be watching for osteoporosis or osteopenia. Other symptoms of high levels of phosphorus in your blood are itchy skin and pain in the bones and joints.

Read the ingredient labels and watch for phosphorus or “PHOS” levels on packaged foods. Be aware of foods with added phosphorus such as deli meats and some fresh meats and poultry.

Foods higher in phosphorus include:

  • Meat, poultry, fish
  • Bran cereals and oatmeal
  • Dairy foods
  • Beans, lentils, nuts
  • Dark-colored sodas, fruit punch, some bottled or canned iced teas that have added phosphorus

Your doctor will be watching your blood levels and will be watching the phosphorus levels in your blood.

Chronic kidney disease can result in potassium build-up

Damaged kidneys allow potassium to build up in your blood, causing serious heart problems. Maintaining a healthy level of potassium helps your nerves and muscles. Again, your doctor will be watching your potassium blood levels. Based on the levels, your diet can play an important role.

Foods higher in Potassium include:

  • Oranges, bananas, and orange juice
  • Potatoes, tomatoes
  • Brown and wild rice
  • Bran cereals
  • Dairy foods
  • Whole-wheat bread and pasta
  • Beans and nuts

Drain canned fruits and vegetables before eating. Also, check the ingredient label for salt substitutes as they can be very high in potassium.

If you are working with multiple health care providers, be sure to have them work with your kidney specialist on medications. Some medications can also raise your potassium levels.

Drink more water

Drinking enough water daily is so important and yet so many of us fall short of our required daily intake. In a different blog, I’ll talk about the many benefits of drinking water, but for now, just know that drinking water can improve your health and digestion. So, grab that bottle of water and just do it!

Learning to live with chronic kidney disease

Receiving a diagnosis of CKD can be frightening. There is so much to learn about how our bodies work. I was lucky that I had a background in anatomy and healthcare, so getting up to speed about this condition was the first thing I wanted to do. Who knows, maybe the CKD has been contributing to the food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances.

Being armed with education and information empowers me to live the highest quality of life possible. I’ll always miss some of my favorite foods that are off-limits now, but we live in a world where there are so many more healthy food and lifestyle choices. Living with multiple health issues may be challenging, but we humans are adaptable and resilient. So much of that resilience and adaptation comes from our attitude and our willingness to be open and try new things. Our pure willingness to be alive and to experience every moment as the precious gift that it is.


Published by The Food Allergy Detective

I have a strong background in the health care industry with over 20 years in underwriting health insurance products, health insurance financial analysis; 16 years in operating a therapeutic massage and energy work business. I have recently earned my certification in case studies. This form of copywriting and other copywriting programs led me to create this website. I have been living with food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances since birth and the list of foods I can no longer eat just keeps growing longer. My family also struggles with similar food issues. With all the research and recipes I'm developing to address our unique allergies, I decided to share this journey with you. Whether you also have food allergies, sensitivities, or intolerances, I hope that the information and recipes I'm providing here will help you or someone you know. I welcome you and am grateful that you visited. Please leave comments and feedback. I'm learning to build this website, so bear with me. It's all a big adventure in learning and I love the challenge! Bon appétit and good luck on your journey!

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