When it comes to keeping our kidneys in top shape, what we put on our plate plays a crucial role. These bean-shaped organs work hard to filter out waste from our blood, balance body fluids, and perform other crucial tasks that keep us healthy. Yet, many of us might not know exactly how to feed our kidneys the right way.

Have you ever wondered about the perfect diet to support your kidneys? Well, you’re in the right place. Whether you’re looking to boost your overall health or support your kidneys due to existing health concerns, understanding the dietary do’s and don’ts is key.

The Role of Diet in Kidney Health

Maintaining kidney health is crucial for filtering out waste products and excess fluids from our body through our urine. The kidneys also play a vital role in regulating blood pressure, potassium, phosphorus, and calcium levels. A kidney-friendly diet recommended by a registered dietitian can help prevent chronic kidney disease (CKD), kidney damage, and potentially avoid the need for dialysis.

A balanced diet supports kidney function and prevents conditions like kidney stones and chronic kidney disease (CKD). It’s not just about eating healthy foods but also about avoiding those that put extra stress on these organs. By maintaining a diet that’s friendly to your kidneys, you’re not only supporting them but also boosting your overall well-being.

Now, you might be wondering, what exactly should you be eating, and what should you avoid? Let’s get into the specifics of the dietary do’s and don’ts for keeping your kidneys in tip-top shape.

Dietary Do’s for Healthy Kidneys

A plate of healthy foods: salmon, broccoli, tomatoes, nuts, and assorted vegetables.

Keeping your kidneys healthy starts with filling your plate with the right kinds of foods. Here are some kidney-friendly heroes you should be including in your diet:

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are the cornerstones of a kidney-friendly diet. Rich in antioxidants and vitamins, choices like apples, berries, avocados, prunes, and leafy greens such as spinach and kale not only offer nutritional benefits but also play a role in reducing inflammation and protecting the kidneys from damage. However, it’s important to be mindful of potassium levels in some fruits and veggies, especially if you have advanced kidney disease. A renal dietitian can provide guidance on which fruits and vegetables are best for your specific condition.

Whole Grains

Whole grains like brown rice, barley, and quinoa are excellent sources of fiber and B vitamins, which are crucial for maintaining healthy kidney function. They help in improving overall health and reducing the risk of chronic diseases, including CKD. Compared to refined grains, whole grains have lower phosphorus and sodium levels, making them a better choice for people concerned about kidney health.

Low-Sodium Foods

Sodium is a significant concern for those looking to protect their kidneys. High sodium intake can increase blood pressure, putting extra strain on the kidneys. Opting for fresh or frozen vegetables, unsalted nuts, and seasoning with herbs and spices instead of salt can help manage sodium intake. Additionally, being vigilant about reading food labels can help you avoid hidden sources of sodium in processed and canned foods.


Hydration plays a key role in kidney health by helping to flush out toxins and waste products from the body. While the general recommendation is to drink 8-10 glasses of water a day, individual needs may vary based on factors like activity level and overall health.

Lean Proteins

Protein is an essential part of any diet, but excessive protein can overwork the kidneys, leading to potential damage. Incorporating lean proteins such as chicken, fish, and plant-based sources like legumes can provide the necessary nutrients without excessive strain. Legumes, in particular, are also rich in fiber and other nutrients beneficial for kidney health.

Pro Tip: Supplements may be necessary in some cases, but always consult with your health care provider before starting them.

Dietary Don’ts for Healthy Kidneys

A tray of fast food items: pizza, fries, onion rings, and a hamburger.

Just as there are foods that support kidney health, there are also those that can put a strain on these organs. Paying attention to what to limit or avoid is just as important as knowing what to include. Here’s what to keep in mind:

High Sodium Foods

Salt is a major culprit in increasing blood pressure and stressing the kidneys. Consuming high sodium foods like processed foods, canned soups, and fast food can lead to water retention, increasing blood pressure and putting extra strain on the kidneys. Choose low sodium alternatives and carefully monitor your sodium intake.

Processed and Red Meats

Processed meats (like those hot dogs and deli slices) and red meats are like the guests who leave a mess behind. They can make your body produce more waste, which your kidneys have to clean up. Consider swapping these out for some chicken or fish.

Sugary Foods and Drinks

Excessive consumption of sugary foods and drinks, including sodas, sweets, and desserts, can lead to weight gain and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes—a major cause of kidney disease. Limiting added sugars and focusing on natural sources of sweetness, like fresh fruit, can support both kidney and overall health.

High Potassium Foods

While potassium is vital, too much can be harmful if your kidneys are not functioning properly. Foods like bananas, oranges, and potatoes should be monitored if you have kidney issues.


Regular alcohol consumption can alter kidney function and increase the risk of kidney disease by causing changes in the kidneys’ ability to filter blood and regulate blood pressure. Alcohol can also dehydrate the body, exacerbating the workload on the kidneys as they attempt to process and eliminate alcohol from the body. Moderation is key, and for individuals with kidney health concerns, consider minimizing alcohol intake.

Tips for Implementing Kidney-Friendly Dietary Changes

Making changes to your diet can seem daunting, especially when it comes to protecting organ health. However, with a few practical tips, adjusting your eating habits to support your kidneys can be both manageable and enjoyable. Here’s how you can start:

  • Start Small: Don’t try to overhaul your diet overnight. Begin by making small changes, such as reducing salt in your cooking or swapping out one sugary snack for a piece of fruit.
  • Read Labels: Become a savvy shopper by reading nutrition labels. Look out for sodium, sugar, and potassium content to make kidney-friendly choices.
  • Plan Your Meals: Meal planning can help you incorporate a variety of kidney-supporting foods into your diet and avoid last-minute decisions that might not be as healthy.
  • Stay Hydrated: Keep a water bottle with you to ensure you’re drinking enough throughout the day. Remember, clear urine is a good sign you’re well-hydrated.
  • Cook at Home: Preparing meals at home gives you control over ingredients and cooking methods, making it easier to follow a kidney-friendly diet.

By adopting these habits, you can make significant strides in supporting your kidney health through diet. Remember, these changes not only benefit your kidneys but also contribute to your overall well-being.

Raise Awareness During March

March is National Kidney Month. In honor of this important cause, why not check into getting your screening? You could also take opportunities to encourage others to do so or take the “Are You at Risk?” Kidney Quiz.

Plus, Premier Family Medical is here for you with blood work and laboratory testing all across Utah County for those kidney checks, along with registered dietitian services to keep you on track. Ready to take the next step? Schedule your appointment today and keep your kidneys in check!