Kidney diseases, silently claiming the lives of many, are one of the leading causes of death in the United States, with an estimated 37 million adults grappling with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). During this National Kidney Month, an expert reveals how dietary habits can help prevent kidney diseases and manage their progression.

According to Lindsay Ducharme, a registered dietitian and board-certified renal nutrition specialist from Massachusetts, kidney health is the key to well-being as they are crucial for several bodily functions. Any damage to these vital organs can disrupt their critical roles.

"Kidney health is important as the functions of the kidney keep the body running properly. The kidneys are the body's filtering units - they get rid of waste products via the urine while keeping the electrolytes, fluids, and acid/base levels in balance. Kidneys also play a role in blood pressure and bone health. Damage to the kidneys means they are unable to perform their job as effectively," Ducharme told Medical Daily.

Diet for kidney health:

Maintaining a healthy diet is pivotal in both preventing and managing chronic kidney disease. It is particularly important for individuals with the condition to potentially slow or halt the progression of the disease.

"Diet plays a crucial role in both the prevention and management of chronic kidney disease. Dietary patterns, such as the Westernized Diet which is high in sodium, fat, added sugar, and animal protein while being low in fruits, vegetables, and fiber, have been shown to contribute to the development of kidney disease. In someone with kidney disease, a proper diet can help slow or even stop disease progression," Ducharme explained.

While there is no single food capable of improving kidney function, the essence of kidney health lies in embracing a plant-focused eating pattern, she said.

"Getting adequate fruits and vegetables is beneficial for kidney health as these foods provide beneficial fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals while helping reduce acid load in the body. Obtaining protein from plant sources is also beneficial as plant proteins have fewer waste products and fat while being a source of beneficial nutrients," Ducharme explained.

"No specific foods need to be avoided altogether. For someone who has kidney disease, it's suggested to avoid starfruit as it contains compounds that can build up and become toxic in someone with impaired kidney function. It's a good idea to limit processed foods and restaurant foods as they are often high in sodium, fat, and added sugars - but they can still be included in moderation along with a balanced diet," she added.