Your kidneys are very important organs in your body. They are bean-shaped and they perform a lot of important functions. They are responsible for filtering blood, eliminating waste by urine, producing hormones, balancing minerals, and maintaining fluid balance. Toxic foods can lead to kidney failure.
However, there are many other risk factors for kidney disease. The most common are uncontrolled diabetes and high blood pressure.
Alcoholism, heart disease, hepatitis C virus and HIV infection are also causes.
When the kidneys can not function properly, fluid can accumulate in the body and waste can accumulate in the blood.
However, avoiding certain foods in your diet can help reduce the accumulation of waste in the blood and improve your immune system.
Your Diet and Your Kidney Health
There is a great relationship between the food you take in and your kidney health. Again, dietary restrictions vary according to the stage of kidney disease.
For example, people who are in the early stages of chronic kidney disease have different dietary restrictions than those with end-stage kidney disease or kidney failure.
People with end-stage renal disease who require dialysis will also have dietary restrictions. Dialysis is a type of treatment that removes excess water and filters waste.
Most people who are terminally ill with kidney failure will need to follow a proper diet for the kidneys to avoid the build-up of certain chemicals or nutrients in the blood.
In people with chronic kidney disease, the kidneys can not adequately eliminate excess sodium, potassium, and phosphorus. As a result, they have an increased risk of high levels of these minerals in the blood.
A healthy diet for the kidneys, or “kidney diet,” usually includes limiting sodium and potassium to 2,000 mg per day and limiting phosphorus to 1,000 mg per day.
According to a study, damaged kidneys may also have trouble filtering out protein metabolism waste. Therefore, people with chronic kidney disease in stages 1 to 4 may need to limit the amount of protein in their diet.
However, those with end-stage renal disease who undergo dialysis have a higher protein requirement.
Here are 17 foods that can be toxic, thus leading to kidney failure.
1. Dark-Colored Colas
In addition to the calories and sugar that Colas provide, they also contain additives that comprise phosphorus, especially dark-colored tails.
Many food manufacturers add phosphorous when processing food and beverages to improve flavor, extend shelf life and prevent discoloration.
This phosphorus is much more absorbable by the human body than natural phosphorus, animal or plant-based ones.
However, unlike natural phosphorus, phosphorus in the form of additives does not bind to proteins. It is rather salt form and highly absorbable by the intestinal tract.
The additive phosphorus is usually found in the ingredient list of a product. However, food manufacturers are not required to report the exact amount of phosphorus additive on the food label.
Although the additive phosphorus content varies depending on the Cola, there is a belief that most dark-colored Colas contain 50 to 100 mg in a 200ml serving.
As a result of this, dark-colored colas should be avoided on a renal diet. If not, foods containing it can become toxic and lead to kidney failure.
A lot of praises go to Avocados for their many nutritional qualities, including heart-healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants.
Avocados are healthy foods to be to our diets, however, those suffering from kidney diseases might need to avoid them as they may prove to be toxic, leading to total kidney failure.
Indeed, avocados are a very rich source of potassium. A study shows that one cup (150 grams) of an avocado provides a whopping 727 mg of potassium.
This amount of potassium contained in avocados is twice as much potassium as an average banana contains.
Therefore, if you have been told to monitor your potassium intake, then you should avoid avocados, including guacamole.
3. Canned Food
Canned foods, such as soups, vegetables, and beans, are often purchased because of their low cost and convenience.
However, most canned foods contain high amounts of sodium, as salt is added as a preservative to increase shelf life.
Because of the amount of sodium in canned foods, it is often recommended that people with kidney diseases should reduce their intake.
In general, it is best to choose low-sodium varieties or those labeled “no added salt”.
In addition, draining and rinsing canned foods, such as beans and canned tuna, can reduce the sodium content by 33-80%, depending on the product.
4. Whole Wheat Bread
Choosing the right bread can be confusing for patients with kidney disease.
Often, for healthy people, whole wheat bread is generally recommended over refined white flour bread.
Wholewheat may be a more nutritious option, mainly because of its higher fiber content. However, white bread is generally recommended rather than whole wheat for patients with kidney disease.
This is due to its phosphorus and potassium content. The more bran and whole grains in bread, the higher the phosphorus and potassium content.
For instance, a 30 gram portion of whole wheat bread contains 57 mg of phosphorus and 69 mg of potassium. In comparison, white bread contains only 28 mg of phosphorus and potassium.
Keep in mind that most bread and its products, whether white or whole grain, also contain relatively high amounts of sodium.
It is best to compare the nutrition labels of various types of bread, choose a low sodium option, if possible, and control portion sizes.
5. Brown Rice
Like whole wheat, brown rice is a whole grain that has a higher potassium and phosphorus content than its counterpart, white rice.
One cup of cooked brown rice contains 150 mg of phosphorus and 154 mg of potassium, while one cup of white rice contains only 69 mg of phosphorus and 54 mg of potassium.
You may be able to add brown rice to the renal diet, but only if the intake is balanced with other foods to avoid excessive daily intake of potassium and phosphorus.
Bulgur, buckwheat, pearl barley, and couscous are nutritious grains with low phosphorus content that can be a good substitute for brown rice.
Bananas are known for their high potassium content.
Although naturally low in sodium, an average banana provides 422 mg of potassium.
It can be difficult to maintain your daily intake of 2,000 mg of potassium if a banana is a daily staple.
Unfortunately, many other tropical fruits also have a high potassium content.
However, pineapples contain much less potassium than other tropical fruits and can be a more appropriate and tasty alternative.
7. Dairy Products
Dairy products are rich in various vitamins and nutrients.
They are also a natural source of phosphorus and potassium and a good source of protein.
For example, 1 cup (8 fluid ounces) of whole milk provides 222 mg of phosphorus and 349 mg of potassium.
However, eating too many dairy products, along with other foods high in phosphorus, can negatively affect bone health in people with kidney disease.
This may seem surprising since milk and dairy products are often recommended for healthy bones and muscles.
However, when the kidneys are damaged, excessive phosphorus intake can cause the accumulation of phosphorus in the blood. This can thin and weaken your bones over time and increase the risk of bone fracture.
Dairy products are also rich in protein. One cup (8 fluid ounces) of whole milk provides approximately 8 grams of protein.
It may be important to limit the consumption of dairy products to avoid the accumulation of protein residues in the blood.
Dairy substitutes such as unenriched rice milk and almond milk are much lower in potassium, phosphorus, and protein than cow’s milk, making it a good substitute for milk during a kidney diet.
8. Oranges and Orange Juice
Although oranges and orange juice are probably best known for their vitamin C content, they are also rich sources of potassium.
A large orange (184 grams) provides 333 mg of potassium. In addition, there is 473 mg of potassium in a cup (8 fluid ounces) of orange juice.
Given its potassium content, oranges and orange juice should probably be avoided or limited during a renal diet.
Grapes, apples, and blueberries, as well as their juices, are good substitutes for oranges and orange juice because they have a lower potassium content.
9. Processed Meat
Processed meats are salted, dried, cured or canned meats. They have long been associated with chronic diseases and are generally considered unhealthy because of their preservative content.
Some examples include hot dogs, bacon, pepperoni, beef jerky, and sausage.
Processed meats generally contain large amounts of salt, mainly to improve the taste and preserve the flavor.
Therefore, it can be difficult to keep your daily sodium intake below 2,000 mg if processed meats are abundant in your diet.
In addition, processed meats are rich in protein.
If you have been told to control your protein intake, it is important to also limit processed meats for this reason.
If you have a bad kidney, foods such as processed meat can be toxic and non-avoidance of such might lead to kidney failure.
10. Pickles, Olives, and Relish
Pickles, processed olives, and relish are examples of salty or pickled foods.
Generally, large amounts of salt are added during the curing or pickling process.
For example, a pickle may contain more than 300 mg of sodium. Similarly, there is 244 mg of sodium in 2 tablespoons of seasoning for sweet pickles.
Processed olives also tend to be salty as they dry and ferment to taste less bitter. Five green marinated olives provide about 195 mg of sodium, which is a significant part of the daily amount in just a small portion.
Many grocery stores offer lower-sodium varieties of pickles, olives, and relish that contain less sodium than traditional varieties.
However, even low-sodium options may be high in sodium, so you’ll always want to watch what you take in.
Apricots are rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, and fiber.
They are also rich in potassium. A cup of fresh apricots provides 427 mg of potassium.
In addition, the potassium content is even more concentrated in apricots.
One cup of dried apricots provides more than 1,500 mg of potassium.
This means that a cup of dried apricots provides 75% of the 2000 mg low-potassium.
It is better to avoid apricots, and especially, dried apricots when on a renal diet.
12. Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes
Potatoes and sweet potatoes are vegetables rich in potassium.
Only a medium-sized boiled potato (156 g) contains 610 mg of potassium, while a medium-sized sweet potato (114 g) contains 541 mg of potassium.
Fortunately, some potassium-rich foods, such as potatoes and sweet potatoes, can be soaked or leached to reduce their potassium content.
Cutting the potatoes into small pieces and boiling them for at least 10 minutes can reduce potassium by 50%.
Soaking potatoes in water before cooking reduces the potassium content. This method is known as “potassium leaching” or “double cooking method”.
Although double cooking potatoes reduce the potassium content, it’s important to remember that this does not completely remove their potassium content. Considerable amounts of potassium may still be present in double-cooked potatoes.
Tomatoes are another potassium-rich fruit that may not meet the guidelines of a kidney diet. This is because they are rich in potassium and consumption of such foods may cause toxic effects leading to kidney failure.
Tomatoes can be served raw or simmered and are often used to make sauces.
A single cup of tomato sauce may contain more than 900 mg of potassium.
Unfortunately, these tomatoes are important and common ingredients in many dishes.
The choice of a low potassium alternative depends to a large extent on taste preference. However, changing the tomato sauce to a roasted red pepper can be delicious, while providing less potassium per serving.
14. Packaged, Instant and Pre-Made Meals
Processed foods can be an important component of sodium in the diet.
Among these foods, packaged, instant and prepared meals are usually the most processed and, therefore, those that contain the most sodium.
Examples include frozen pizza, microwave foods, and instant noodles.
It can be difficult to maintain sodium intake at 2,000 mg per day if you regularly eat highly processed foods.
Not only do they have a high amount of sodium, but they also lack nutrients.
15. Swiss Chard, Spinach, and Beet Greens
Swiss chard, spinach, and beet greens are green leafy vegetables that contain large amounts of various nutrients and minerals, including potassium. When served raw, the amount of potassium varies between 140-290 mg per cup.
While cooking leafy vegetables reduce them to a smaller size, the potassium content remains the same.
For example, half a cup of raw spinach will shrink to about 1 tablespoon once cooked. Therefore, eating half a cup of cooked spinach will contain a much larger amount of potassium than half a cup of raw spinach.
Moderate consumption of Swiss chard, spinach, and raw beet greens is better than cooked vegetables to avoid excess potassium.
16. Dates, Raisins, and Prunes
Dates, raisins, and prunes are common nuts.
Drying the fruit will make the nutrients (including potassium) to become intense.
For example, a cup of prunes provides 1,274 mg of potassium, which is almost equal to five times the amount of potassium in a cup of its raw counterpart, plum.
In addition, just four dates provide 668 mg of potassium.
Given the remarkable amount of potassium found in these common dry fruits, it is best not to consume it during a renal diet to ensure that potassium levels remain favorable.
17. Pretzels, Chips, and Crackers
Ready-to-eat snacks such as pretzels, potato chips, and crackers tend to lack nutrients and are relatively rich in salt.
In addition, it is easy to eat more than the recommended portion of these foods, which often leads to an even greater intake of salt than expected.
In addition, making chips from potatoes does not diminish the amount of potassium in it. They will likely contain significant amounts of potassium.
Summary and Recommendation
If you have kidney disease, your intake of potassium, phosphorus, and sodium may be an important part of controlling the disease.
One should avoid foods high in sodium, potassium, and phosphorus.
Dietary restrictions and nutritional intake recommendations vary depending on the severity of the kidney damage. But if you must have improved kidney health and avoid its failure, you must avoid foods that prove to be toxic tom your kidney.
Following a kidney diet can seem daunting and sometimes a little restrictive. However, working with your health care professional and a kidney dietitian can help you design a specific diet for your individual needs.
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