Foods to avoid with kidney disease

March 3, 2009


Anyone with kidney disease must avoid foods that have a high level of phosphorus such as such as certain meats, dairy products, whole grains, potatoes and nuts because their kidneys have difficulty in processing and expelling it. The risks are not small; a high level of phosphorus in such patients can lead to heart disease, bone disease, and even death.

That’s all very well if you know which foods contain it, as most patients do, but new research from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland has discovered that a great deal of processed and fast food actually contains phosphorus additives which can be just as dangerous. Apparently it has become an increasingly common practice by food manufacturers to include phosphorus additives, such as sodium phosphate or pyrophosphate, to processed foods. The reasons are the usual commercial ones; to improve the flavour and extend the shelf life, particularly in meats, cheeses, baked goods, and drinks.

The law requires labels to state calorie, fat, and sodium content but not phosphorus which makes it impossible for kidney disease patients to know how much phosphorus they are eating. One ‘culprit’ is chicken from fast food chains or restaurants although chicken is listed as a ‘safe’ food for dialysis patients.

Although this is primarily of concern to those with severe or moderate kidney disease, it also affects the population as a whole. Previous research has found that high phosphorus diets appear to lower bone density and increase fracture risk because they decrease the level of calcium in your blood.

Phosphorus is already abundant in naturally-occurring foods and these are some of the highest sources that you might want to limit in your diet:

* Milk and milk products

* Whole grains, including bread, crackers, cereal, rice and pasta

* Dried beans, peas and lentils

* Potatoes

* Organ meats, including liver, tongue, kidney, heart and giblets

* Nuts and seeds, including peanut butter and other nut butters

* Chocolate and other sweets made with milk, such as caramels

* Cola soft drinks


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