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11 Foods To Avoid With Kidney Disease and Diabetes

Published on
Updated on
11 Foods To Avoid With Kidney Disease and Diabetes

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Diabetes is one of the leading causes of kidney disease.
  • Dietary changes, along with exercise and medication, is an important component of early treatment of both diabetes and kidney disease.
  • Avoiding certain foods, including high sodium and high protein foods, can improve blood pressure levels and slow the progression of kidney disease. 

Approximately 37 million people in the United States are affected by kidney disease, including roughly one in three adults with diabetes.

People with the disease have kidneys that are damaged and unable to filter blood properly, which can lead to more serious health problems.

Early detection and treatment methods, including dietary changes, can help to slow or stop the disease.

If you have diabetes and have been diagnosed with kidney disease, learning what foods to avoid—including high sodium and high protein foods—can help you manage these conditions.

Working with a registered dietitian will ensure you incorporate these dietary changes safely and effectively.

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11 Foods to Avoid for Improved Kidney Health and Blood Sugar Control

Maintaining healthy blood sugar and blood pressure levels are two of the best ways to slow diabetes-related kidney disease.

Making specific changes to your diet by avoiding certain types of foods can help to achieve both of these goals. 

1. High-Sodium Foods

Sodium is a mineral that is found naturally in many foods, including table salt.

Eating foods that are high in sodium can lead to extra fluid and sodium buildup in the body, which can increase blood pressure.

If you have kidney disease and diabetes, consider avoiding or limiting high-sodium foods in your diet. These include:

  • Table salt.
  • Seasoning salt.
  • Cheese.
  • Certain sauces (including soy sauce, barbeque sauce, steak sauce, and teriyaki sauce).
  • Bottled salad dressings.
  • Tortilla and potato chips.
  • Crackers.
  • Pretzels.
  • Nuts.
  • Popcorn.
  • Pickles.
  • Sauerkraut.
  • Lox and herring.
  • Kimchi.
  • Olives.
  • Buttermilk.
  • Fast foods.

Many products will advertise that they are "low” or “reduced” sodium on their front label.

Otherwise, a good rule of thumb is to look for products that contain 5% or less of sodium per serving on the nutrition facts label.

2. Processed Meats

Processed meats are also typically high in sodium.

Limiting your consumption of processed meats is recommended to help control blood pressure levels.

Examples of processed meats include:

  • Deli meats and cold cuts.
  • Bacon.
  • Salami.
  • Sausage.
  • Hot dogs and bratwursts.
  • Spam.
  • Corned beef and pastrami.

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3. Canned Soups and Sauces

Canned soups and sauces are convenience foods that help you to get flavorful meals on the table easily and quickly.

Unfortunately, many of these foods are high in sodium and should be limited if you have kidney disease and diabetes.

When shopping for canned soups and sauces, it’s important to read the nutrition labels before purchasing.

Opting for low-sodium options when possible can help you keep these foods in your meal preparation rotation without compromising your blood pressure goals. 

Other canned foods that may contain high amounts of sodium include:  

  • Vegetable juices.
  • Canned vegetables.
  • Chili.
  • Other canned tomato products.

4. High-Potassium Foods

Potassium is an important mineral found in many foods.

Normally, the kidneys remove excess potassium from the blood.

But people with kidney disease are unable to filter out excess potassium right away, which can lead to high potassium levels in the blood (also called hyperkalemia). 

Uncontrolled diabetes can also cause too much potassium to stay in the blood.

Monitoring your intake of foods that are higher in potassium (more than 200mg of potassium per serving) can help to keep the potassium levels in your blood lower if you have hyperkalemia.

These foods include:

  • Apricots.
  • Avocado.
  • Banana.
  • Cantaloupe.
  • Dates.
  • Dried fruits.
  • Grapefruit juice.
  • Honeydew melon.
  • Kiwi.
  • Mango.
  • Orange juice.
  • Raisins.
  • Artichoke.
  • Squash.
  • Beets.
  • Broccoli.
  • Brussels sprouts.
  • Carrots.
  • Legumes.
  • Beef.
  • Chocolate.
  • Milk.
  • Salmon.
  • Yogurt.

5. Sugary Drinks and Soda

Eating foods high in sugar can exacerbate elevated blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

Limiting intake of foods with added sugar, like sugary drinks and sodas, is an important component of a diabetes-friendly meal plan

But eating foods high in sugar can also damage blood vessels in the kidneys, which is why limiting sugary drinks and sodas can be helpful for managing and treating kidney disease, too.

Examples of sugary drinks to avoid include:

  • Soda (Coca-Cola, Pepsi, etc.)
  • Energy drinks.
  • Fruit juices.

Phosphorus is also a mineral of concern for people with kidney disease.

Many sodas contain phosphorus, which is why it's best to avoid or limit your consumption of phosphorus containing beverages. 

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6. Whole Wheat Bread

Whole wheat bread is often recommended as part of a heart-healthy diet because of its higher fiber content.

Whole wheat bread is a good source of fiber and vitamins and is typically low in sodium, but it can also contain higher amounts of potassium and phosphorus.

Guidelines set by the National Kidney Foundation recommend that people with chronic kidney disease limit their phosphorus and potassium intake to 200mg or less per day. 

However, most whole grains contain fewer than 200mg of each of these minerals per serving and may still offer nutritional benefits for many people with kidney disease and diabetes.

It’s also important to note that phosphorus in plant-based foods doesn’t get completely absorbed when eaten.

If you’re unsure whether or not the whole wheat bread you buy contains too much phosphorus or potassium, you can always check the nutrition facts label.

Otherwise, working with a registered dietitian is a safe and effective way to ensure that you’re staying within the daily recommended intake limits of these minerals. 

7. Dairy Products

Dairy products are a natural source of protein and several vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, phosphorus, and potassium.

But because kidney disease impacts the body’s ability to balance and filter salt and minerals in the body, it’s important to limit your consumption of dairy products, including:

8. Alcohol

Drinking alcohol can compromise your kidney function and elevate blood pressure levels.

It can also interact with certain medications you may be taking.

If you have kidney disease and diabetes, it’s a good idea to consult with a registered dietitian or other certified healthcare provider about whether or not alcohol consumption is safe for you.  

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9. Potatoes

Potatoes are naturally rich in potassium, a mineral that should be limited if you have kidney disease.

However, some research suggests that soaking potatoes after cooking may help to leach up to 70% of their potassium content before consuming. 

10. Packaged Meals

Many packaged meals contain high amounts of sodium.

Searching for low-sodium packaged meal options where possible and checking the nutrition facts label before purchasing is a good way to avoid consuming high amounts of sodium.  

11. Dried Fruits

Dried fruits, especially dried apricots, dates, and figs, contain high amounts of potassium.

Limiting your consumption of dried fruits will help you to stay below the recommended allowance of 200mg of potassium per day.

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Alternative Options for a Kidney-Friendly Diabetic Diet

Though it's important to know which foods to limit, there are many foods you can incorporate into a healthy and balanced diet for kidney disease and diabetes.

These include:

Takeaway

Making certain changes to your diet can help to manage both diabetes and kidney disease.

These changes include limiting sodium, potassium, phosphorus, dairy, sugary drinks, and limiting or avoiding alcohol. 

How a Dietitian Can Help

Working with a registered dietitian for kidney disease and diabetes can help you to build a personalized and healthy meal plan.

Get started today by finding a dietitian near you that accepts insurance using Nourish.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What should a diabetic with kidney disease eat? 

Eating a well-rounded and balanced diet is important if you have kidney disease and diabetes.

But there are some foods you may want to limit or avoid, including those that contain high levels of sodium, potassium, and phosphorus and dairy, sugary drinks and sodas and alcohol.

What are the worst foods to eat when you have kidney disease?

Foods high in sodium can elevate blood pressure levels, which can be dangerous if you have kidney disease.

Foods high in potassium, phosphorus and alcohol should also be avoided or limited.

What fruits should diabetics avoid with kidney disease?

People with diabetes and kidney disease should avoid fruits that are high in potassium or sugar, including dried fruits, apricots, bananas, and cantaloupe.

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