These foods may help reduce the risk of this undiagnosed chronic disease — eat this, don’t

Kidney health is easy to forget, but these two pea-sized organs are vital to your overall health, responsible for maintaining a healthy balance of water, salts and minerals in your blood, as well as filtering out waste and harmful toxins. When the kidneys aren’t working properly, a person can experience a range of symptoms, from high blood pressure and lethargy to persistent headaches, facial swelling and lower back pain.

The Meatless Monday team spoke with Gail Torres, MS, RD, RN, senior director of clinical communications at the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), to better understand why Americans are developing chronic kidney disease (CKD) and how people can reduce their risk. The development of the disease with a little lifestyle change. Answers have been edited for clarity.

RELATED: The #1 Best Kidney Food, Says Nutritionist

What is CKD and why is it on the rise in the United States?

CKD refers to chronic kidney disease, which means that kidney damage can last for three months or more, causing kidney damage and gradual loss of kidney function. Kidney damage reduces the kidney’s ability to filter waste, fluid, and toxins from the blood, while impairing other kidney functions, leading to high blood pressure, anemia, bone disease, malnutrition, and nerve damage. CKD also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

According to the United States Kidney Information System 2021 Annual Data Report, increasing rates of risk factors that can lead to CKD, including obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes, contribute to its continued prevalence. The report highlights that factors such as a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet may contribute to the increase in obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Why do people with the disease not know they have the disease?

CKD is called the “silent killer” because it has no symptoms until it is very advanced. In fact, 9 out of 10 of the 37 million adults in the United States with CKD don’t know they have it because they don’t have it. That’s why it’s so important to have your kidney function checked regularly. These simple tests are essential for early detection of CKD when symptoms are absent and treatment can be started quickly to prevent further kidney damage. To learn more about CKD testing, click here:

What are the symptoms?

As CKD progresses, symptoms may include:

  • increased fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • poor appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • muscle cramps
  • Urinating more or less than usual
  • Swollen legs and feet

How should people eat to reduce their risk of developing CKD?

Low-salt and low-sodium diets that emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, vegetables, nuts, seeds, saturated and monounsaturated fats, low-fat/low-sugar dairy products, lean meats, and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids The Dietary Approach. The Diet to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet and the Mediterranean diet, both associated with a reduced risk of CKD.

These unprocessed, whole-food, plant-based diets can help reduce the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure, and therefore CKD, while helping to maintain a healthy weight, which is associated with a lower risk for CKD. Plant-based diets low in animal products have less net acid production, which can provide a healthy environment for the kidneys, especially for people prone to kidney stones and gout, two risk factors for CKD.


What are the best food choices for kidney health in a person’s diet?

The National Kidney Foundation’s Council on Renal Nutrition (CRN) has compiled a list of foods that are a good place to start, and while acknowledging that while it’s nice to avoid or manage kidney foods entirely, the reality is not so simple. While some foods are certainly more nutritious than others, no one food is a magic answer to good health. You can find many guidelines for meatless meals at Meatless Monday and the National Kidney Foundation.

The CRN list includes the following foods:

  • aromatic substances
  • Strawberry
  • Root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, turnips)
  • beans
  • Nuts and seeds
  • whole grain
  • leafy greens
  • squash
  • a tomato
  • blue wolf
  • an Apple

Want to learn more about the health benefits of a plant-based diet? Check out Meatless Monday for recipes, cooking tips, and additional resources focused on incorporating more fruits, vegetables, greens, and whole grains into your diet.

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Meatless Monday is a global movement that encourages people to reduce meat in their diets for their own health and the health of the planet. Read more

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