K is for Kidney Health


K | Kidney Health

by Lindsey Herr

Your kidneys transform parts of your blood into urine via filtration, reabsorption, secretion and excretion. The proper function of the kidneys can be measured by the GFR (Glomerular Filtration Rate). This is a marker your doctor may use to determine what fraction of the blood the kidneys filter, or FF, Filtration Fraction. Normal humans have a filtration fraction of about 20%.

Kidney health may be a confusing new idea to you, but here are the basics of what you should know:

Lifestyle Factors for Good Kidney Health

  • Healthy blood pressure

  • Controlled blood glucose level if you are diabetic

  • Good cholesterol

  • Take medications as prescribed

  • Limit alcohol

  • Increase physical activity

  • Healthy weight

  • Non-Smoker

Dietary Factors for Kidney Health

  • Reduce sodium intake: Americans consume too much sodium (salt)

  • Limit red meat: Diets high in protein - especially those with animal protein - may harm the kidneys. Red meat is also high in saturated fat.

  • Avoid soda: Sugar-sweetened drinks are high in calories and contain no nutrition. Colas also have phosphorus that can damage kidneys.

  • Give up processed foods: Potato chips, crackers, cheese spreads, instant potato mix, and deli meats are all examples of processed foods that are high in phosphorus additives and sodium - both of which can have a damaging effect on the kidneys.

  • Reduce sugar intake: Consuming too much sugar can result in diabetes or obesity - both linked to kidney disease.

Food Tips for Kidney Health

  • Cook with a mix of spices instead of salt

  • Add veggie toppings to your pizza or sandwiches

  • Try baking or broiling meat, chicken, and fish instead of frying

  • Choose minimally processed foods with little or no added sugar

  • Drink and cook with fat-free (skim) or low-fat milk and milk products

  • Choose whole grains

  • Choose food low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, and sodium


The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

The National Kidney Foundation

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