By Better Nutrition Provider Jen Hernandez RD, LD
Your kidneys are important for a number of reasons (waste and toxin removal, blood pressure regulation, red blood cell production, the list goes on and on…) but do you know how to take care of them better? As a dietitian who works with people with all stages of kidney disease (did you know that chronic kidney disease affects 14% of US population?), I know that better kidney nutrition is the best prevention tool and it even works to help keep earlier stage kidney disease from worsening. So what is better kidney nutrition? Here are the top 5 areas you should focus on:
1. Do Sodium Better
High blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension, is one of the top two causes of chronic kidney disease. Kidneys help to regulate blood pressure, but once there’s kidney damage, their capability to maintain healthy blood pressure is diminished. So kidney health is a major factor in heart health and risk of cardiovascular problems.
How much sodium is better? The American Heart Association encourages Americans to limit sodium (salt) to 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day, which is equivalent to about 1 teaspoon. Although some people may benefit from limiting to 1,500 mg per day, especially when controlling blood pressure.
How can you sodium better? We don’t tend to take in much sodium at home, though! The majority of sodium is found in fast foods and restaurants. For example, a fast food hamburger can contain approximately 500 – 1000 mg sodium! And that’s not even with cheese, which can tack on another 400-500 mg! If you’re really craving a burger when eating out, try to go for the kid’s meal. You will cut the sodium down by about half and keep your meat portion control in check, too.
2. Increase Potassium
Potassium, a mineral found in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, is an important nutrient for so many reasons including to help offset the impact of sodium on blood pressure. According to the American Heart Association, the recommended intake for the average adult is 4,700 mg per day.
You may have been told to eat a banana for potassium, but to meet your needs you would have to eat 10 bananas – that’s B-A-N-A-N-A-S – so it’s better to get in a variety of the foods listed below. You don’t want to get in high amounts of potassium from supplements, that is not better for your kidneys and should only be used under close medical supervision. Use these better nutrition tools to see if you are getting in enough potassium and for a menu of better potassium nutrition choices and use JEN20 to save 20% off from me!
- bananas (420 mg)
- tomatoes and tomato-based products (like soups and sauces for pasta and pizza) (1 medium tomato = 290 mg) *Look for low-sodium tomato sauce options
- avocados (975 mg)
- unsweetened yogurt (6 oz container = 260 mg)
- sweet potatoes (440 mg)
- spinach (170 mg)
- pistachios (1 oz = 290 mg)
- coconut water (8 oz = 600 mg)
- watermelon water (8 oz = 550 mg)
- black coffee (8 oz = 120 mg
3. Drink Up Better
Our kidneys help remove waste from the body – they turn it into urine – which requires good old H20 as its main ingredient. So when you drink water, you are helping your kidneys work better! Even better, when you swop soda for water, you reduce your intake of phosphoric acid which isn’t better for your kidneys.
How much water is better for you? Every body requires a different amount of water/fluid. Here’s an easy tool to figure out your better water amount and how to get it in more often. And make sure to use JEN20 at checkout for 20% off!
How often you take in water is important too! Just like you don’t want to eat one big meal a day, your water intake should be consistent throughout the day, not just drinking a bottle or two in the morning and then before you go to bed. And when you’re thirsty, drink up.
4. Choose Better Protein
Protein is important for our muscles, hormones, hair, skin, and nails – but too much protein is a problem, especially for your kidneys. Choose better amounts of better quality proteins more often to meet your daily needs. This tool will help you determine your better protein amount and what are better protein choices for you to make more often (use JEN20 to save 20% off).
5. Focus on Fiber
Fiber is such an important part of our diet! It helps with blood pressure, blood sugar regulation, digestion, and helps promote healthy weight! The general recommendation for fiber intake is 25 grams per day, spread throughout the day. Here’s a tool to help you make better fiber choices every day (use JEN20 for 20% off), deliciously, so you get all the benefits fiber has to offer!
The best news! Better kidney nutrition is better nutrition for your whole body too. So when following these tips and using these better nutrition tools you will be on your way to better kidney health and better energy, better skin, better blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and any of the better health results you crave!