Eating Right for Better Kidney Health

Be sure to talk to your doctor before making any changes to your diet.

Living with lupus nephritis, it’s important to pay attention to what you eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Eating the right, healthy foods can help you manage kidney disease and may help lower your blood pressure. Before making any changes to your lifestyle, care, or diet, always talk with your doctor. You may also want to consider meeting with a licensed dietitian or nutritionist, who can help you plan meals and discuss changes you may need to make to your diet. Below are some tips for eating right to manage kidney disease:

  • Choose foods with less salt and sodium
  • Try to avoid processed foods
  • Eat small portions of protein-rich foods:
    • Chicken
    • Fish
    • Red Meat
    • Eggs
    • Dairy
    • Beans
    • Nuts and Seeds
    • Grains
  • Choose heart-healthy foods:
    • Lean cuts of meat
    • Skinless poultry
    • Fish
    • Beans
    • Vegetables
    • Fruits
    • Low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt, and cheese

As kidney function declines, you may need to eat foods with less phosphorus and potassium. Too much phosphorus may pull calcium from your bones, making them thinner and weaker and can also cause itchy skin as well as bone and joint pain. Too much potassium, meanwhile, may cause serious heart problems.

Many packaged foods contain added phosphorus (look for the letters “PHOS” on ingredient labels) while salt substitutes can be very high in potassium. Always read ingredient labels to know what it is you’re eating and talk to your doctor about proper diet and nutrition.

If you’re interested in following a low-sodium diet, read about the dietary changes made by a woman living with lupus nephritis. Her story and her salt-fighting crusade are featured on the Lupus Foundation for America website.

Exercising with Lupus Nephritis

Exercise has many physical and emotional benefits. Not only can it strengthen parts of the body lupus affects, but it may also help make muscles less stiff, reduce the risk of heart disease, control weight gain, and improve wellbeing. Low-impact activities such as walking, swimming, low-impact aerobics, certain types of yoga, and using an elliptical exercise machine can strengthen your bones and tone your muscles without aggravating inflamed joints. Exercising with a friend can give you moral support and help you stick to a routine.

Always talk with your physician before you start or make any changes to your exercise plan.

Guide to Talking with Your Doctor

Make the most of your healthcare appointments. Download this helpful discussion guide and bring it with you to your next doctor’s visit.

Download Guide

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