Dietary Changes You Can Make To Improve Your Kidney Health

By Medical Expert Team

Aug 09 , 2022 | 5 min read

Kidneys are essential organs of the human body responsible for keeping the body toxin-free. They filter wastes, excess water and other impurities from the body. However, kidney damage, once caused, cannot be cured. Maintaining kidney health is crucial to avoiding complex health issues later in life. Kidney diseases affect 1 in every 10 people globally. They directly derail kidney functions, leading to other health issues like hypertension, heart diseases, bone issues, etc.

Most people remain unaware of kidney disease until their condition worsens, as it has little to no symptoms in the early stages. Dietary changes are the key to improving kidney health. A few changes in dietary habits can go a long way in reducing the burden on the kidneys. If diagnosed with kidney disease, dietary changes are a must to avoid the progression of the disease.

How Does Diet Impact Kidney Health?

Food and lifestyle diseases like diabetes and hypertension are responsible for 64% of kidney disease cases. Uncontrolled blood sugar and blood pressure affect blood vessels in the kidneys, leading to permanent kidney damage. A healthy diet is crucial for managing and preventing diabetes and hypertension.

It also helps in managing weight and cholesterol levels, which in turn supports kidney health. Diet provides the body with all the necessary vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients. These nutrients are absorbed from the food and transported to the cells. All unwanted substances and metabolism waste from the cells are filtered by the kidneys.

Unhealthy foods cause toxic metabolic wastes to build up in the kidneys. With kidney disease, excess nutrients and toxic waste pile up and further damage the kidney. Following a renal diet and consuming kidney friendly food helps in protecting the kidney from damage.

8 Diet Tips to Keep Your Kidneys Healthy

Following a renal diet is the best way to improve kidney function. Here are a few renal diet tips to keep kidneys healthy in the long run.

Exercise Portion Control

Portion control ensures foods good for the kidneys are consumed in the required quantities. Here’s how an ideal plate looks like

  • 50% fresh fruits or vegetables like green leafy vegetables, berries, apples, etc.
  • 25% lean protein like beans, lentils, nuts, egg whites, etc.
  • 25% whole grains like brown rice, buckwheat, millets, etc.

A spoonful of healthy fats like olive oil can also be included in the diet.

Cut Down on Sodium

Sodium foods are bad for kidneys as they tend to increase fluid retention and raise blood pressure, leading to kidney damage. Therefore, limit salt intake, use lemon or other spices instead of salt for seasoning and avoid high-sodium packed foods to follow a low-sodium diet.

Don’t overdo Protein

While protein is good for health, excess protein increases the kidney’s burden. Kidneys need to work hard to filter waste generated from protein. Consume it in moderation.

Choose Complex Carbs over Simple Carbs

While simple carbs like sugary foods are tempting, complex carbs like whole grains, vegetables, lentils, etc., are healthy options. Complex carbs are high in fibre and other nutrients. They digest slowly and are essential to fuel the body.

Be Mindful When Consuming Fats

There are different types of fats, with unsaturated fats being the healthiest of all. Saturated and trans-fat are linked to heart problems and are foods that are bad for kidneys. Therefore, consume healthy fats like olives, avocados, fatty fish, nuts, etc.

Limit Alcohol Intake

Alcohol harms the kidneys in various ways. Its dehydrating nature affects the kidney’s ability to maintain the body’s water levels. Alcohol impacts liver function, affecting blood flow to the kidney. Also, filtering alcohol wastes reduces kidney efficiency.

Consult the Doctor Regarding Phosphorus and Potassium Intake

The body requires phosphorus and potassium for stronger bones and heart and muscle health. However, in kidney disease, the levels of these minerals increase—leading to weaker bones and heart problems. Therefore, it is essential to consult a doctor before limiting them.

Work with a Dietitian

While a renal diet is good for kidneys, it must be personalised for every individual. Based on current health conditions, medications and lifestyle, a dietician or nutritionist creates a personalised diet plan.

5 Types of Kidney Diseases

There are various types of kidney diseases. Here are a few common ones:

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Chronic kidney disease (CKD), results in the gradual loss of kidney function over time. It is progressive and has no cure. However, medications and lifestyle changes help manage CKD and delay its progression.

Kidney Stones

Certain minerals in the kidneys can crystallise into a solid mass called kidney stones. Caused by drinking too little water, overeating salty or sugary foods, etc., kidney stones are curable. They are discarded from the body with urine over time but can be extremely painful.


Inflammation in glomeruli, small structures inside the kidney that filter blood, causes glomerulonephritis. It can result from infections, drugs or any other disorder. While its acute form may cure on its own, chronic glomerulonephritis has no cure. Kidney-friendly foods are advised to manage the disease.

Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a disease where multiple cysts grow inside the kidneys. It is a genetic disorder where these fluid-filled cysts enlarge the kidneys, interfere with kidney function and eventually lead to kidney failure. It is a serious condition and has no cure.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

UTIs are bacterial infections that occur in any part of the urinary system—the urinary bladder and urethra are the most common sites. They have a cure and leave no significant side effects. However, if not treated, UTIs can spread to the kidneys and lead to kidney failure.

What Can You Do to Improve Kidney Health?

Small changes can go a long way in improving kidney health. Here are a few of them:

  • Dietary changes: Eat a renal diet, measure food intake and use smaller plates.
  • Lifestyle changes: Lose extra weight, stay active, limit alcohol and quit smoking
  • Regular exercise: Have a 15- to 30-minute exercise plan consisting of simple exercises like aerobics, stretching and resistance training. Do them in moderation.
  • Medications: Consult a doctor and take medicines if required. Don’t ignore kidney health.


Healthy kidneys are the key to a healthy and happy life. Not only do kidneys remove waste, but they also maintain adequate water and mineral levels in the body. It is essential to keep kidneys healthy as kidney damage, once done, cannot be rectified. However, it is never too late to work towards improving kidney health. Small changes in diet and lifestyle can go a long way in managing kidney disease. Implement them today!

Written and Verified by:

Medical Expert Team