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How to Follow a Kidney-Healthy Diet

Diet Advice For seniors with Kidney Health Problems

Many seniors experience kidney trouble at one time or another. In such instances, it is important to adjust seniors’ diets to protect kidney health.

Over time, the kidneys tend to perform less effectively. As a result, seniors are at greater risk of kidney problems and kidney failure. A kidney-healthy diet can help.

The kidneys are organs that filter the blood. They filter wastes and extra fluid to form urine. Other functions include hormone production and body fluid regulation. Since kidneys serve as filters, what seniors eat affects their function. A kidney-healthy diet can reduce strain on the kidney and improve health.

Dietary Tips for Kidney Health

Generally, protecting the kidneys or reducing strain on them involves limiting the intake of sodium, potassium, and phosphorus. Limiting these nutrients is commonly referred to as “the renal diet.”

These tips can help seniors follow the renal diet:

Reducing Sodium

  • Never add salt to food
  • Only consume reduced-sodium soups or broths
  • Avoid frozen meals
  • Don’t eat foods with 300mg or more sodium per serving
  • Check labels to be sure no salt is added
  • Do not buy foods preserved in a “solution”

Reducing Potassium

  • Avoid melons and bananas
  • Do not drink orange, prune, or grapefruit juice
  • Limit tomato-based foods like pasta sauce
  • Never eat dried beans
  • Don’t eat cooked greens, spinach, collards, or swiss chard
  • Always wash and peel potatoes

Signs of Kidney Problems
Watch for these signs of renal issues:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Weak or reduced urine output
  • Pain near the kidneys
  • Loss of appetite
  • Puffiness in the legs or ankles
  • High blood pressure

Reducing Phosphorus

  • Reduce dairy intake to 1 cup per day
  • Limit broccoli, mushrooms, and brussel sprouts to 1 cup per week
  • Cereals like bran or oatmeal should be eaten no more than once a week
  • Do not drink soft drinks or beer
  • Choose white bread over whole grains

Since protein should also be limited if the kidneys are having trouble with filtration, the consumption of foods like meat and nuts should be reduced too.

Types of Kidney Disease

  • Polycystic Kidney Disease
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Acute Kidney Failure
  • Nephronia/Nephropathy
  • Secondary caused by diabetes, lupus, etc.

Kidney-Friendly Foods

Given the many limitations a renal diet requires, many seniors are at a loss about what they can eat. These foods are generally safe for seniors with kidney problems to consume:

  • Veggies like bell peppers, cauliflower, cabbage, radishes, and turnips
  • Seafood rich in Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Low-potassium fruits like blueberries, red grapes, cranberries, and pineapples
  • Easier-to-digest proteins like egg whites or skinless chicken
  • Unsalted seasonings like garlic and onion
  • Light grains like bulgur and buckwheat

Home Care Tip

Many seniors grow discouraged by restrictive diets like the renal diet. One way to encourage them is to make their favorite meals or treats using kidney-friendly alternative ingredients.

Ted Wolfendale

Administrator at Dial-a-Nurse
Mr. Wolfendale is a graduate of Stetson University, and Stetson University School of Law, and was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1988. He is admitted to practice in the Middle district of Florida, is an active member of the Florida Health Law section, and Lee County Bar Association.

In 1995 he became Administrator of Dial-a-Nurse nursing agency, the oldest nursing agency in the Southwest Florida succeeding his mother who started the company 37 years ago. He is also President of Nevco, Inc., an educational healthcare training company begun in 1988.

Mr. Wolfendale has worked with the U.S. Department of Commerce on various Missions to improve the quality of life around the world by development of supportive healthcare programs. In 2005 he traveled with U.S. officials and addressed the Italian National Government assisting in the creation of Nurse Education mandates for that Country. In 2006 he was invited and spoke with the National Institutes of Continuing Education in Eastern Europe on healthcare education and developmental mandates, and most recently represented the United States at the European Union in Lake Balaton, Hungary in 2011. In 2014 he traveled with the U.S. Department of State to Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam in an effort to improve caregiver knowledge and training.

Mr. Wolfendale has worked with a number of non-profits in contributing and creating curriculum to improve the quality of life in third-world countries since 2001, and notably created a successful program in Odessa, India that has been modeled in other areas of the world. In his backyard, he has worked with local Goodwill Industries to provide curriculum and training to underserved individuals who have obtained employment as a result of educational training. He was the Congressional appointment to the Governor's purple ribbon task force in 2013, and has worked to educate caregivers in all aspects of Alzheimer's training.