Located below your rib cage, one on each side of the spine, your kidneys are workhorses without which you just cannot live a healthy life. Even though they are the size of your fists, they are extremely powerful and filter more than 200 quarts of blood daily. Moreover, your kidneys filter more than 2 quarts of waste products as well. These waste products will stay in your body if your kidneys are not functioning properly. So many things can damage your kidneys, including the food you eat. Knowing about foods bad for kidneys helps ensure your kidneys continue to work optimally. Let's find out more about it.

Bad Foods for Kidneys

What you eat will have an impact on your overall health. Your kidneys can also suffer from the foods you eat because they have to filter out toxins that may be part of your diet. Here is more about some of the most common foods bad for kidneys.

Animal Protein

It is important to limit your intake of animal protein. It means you should not drink too much of milk because it is a rich source of animal protein, which is highly acidifying. Not paying attention to this advice would increase calcium secretion in your urine, because your body will take calcium from your bones to neutralize the acid before your kidneys handle the excess protein.

Similarly, meat is also a source of animal protein that puts you at an increased risk of developing uric acid kidney stones.


Processed Deli Meats

Eliminate cold cuts like ham and bologna from your diet. The reason is that processed meats contain nitrates and sodium that will increase your risk of cancer. You will be better off going for leaner meats like chicken or fresh roasted turkey. Eating low nitrate, low sodium meats helps keep your kidneys healthy.



Foods high in purines should go out of your diet, especially if you have had kidney stones in the past. Since sardines are rich in purine content, it is better to scarp them from your diet for healthier kidneys.


Artificial Sweeteners

Many people think they are not doing any harm to their health by including artificial sweeteners in their diet. Because they think that artificial sweeteners do not have any calories. But the truth is that artificial sweeteners can greatly affect your kidney function – even two diet sodas a day can wreak havoc on your system. Avoid all artificial sweeteners and opt for stevia instead.



Excessive intake of sodium is bad for your heart as well as kidneys. Table salt contains dextrose, sodium chloride, and anti-caking agents. Moreover, the presence of 40% sodium makes table salt a threat to your kidneys. People who are on a high sodium and low potassium diet are more likely to suffer from heart attack. Too much salt in your body causes excessive water retention, which increases the volume of blood and puts excessive pressure on your renal and cardiovascular systems. Moreover, your bones start losing calcium when there is too much of salt in the body, and this increases your urinary output of calcium. This may also lead to the formation of kidney stones.



One reason to avoid mayonnaise is that they are high in calories – a tablespoon contains 103 calories. It is also high in saturated fat and sodium. Excessive intake of mayonnaise may bring damages to your kidneys. A better alternative to mayonnaise is non-fat Greek yogurt. You can always use it in your salads because it binds well and is a great source of protein.


Excessive Caffeine

Caffeine in tea, coffee, soda and other foods can take a toll on your kidneys over time. Caffeine stimulates blood flow and raises your blood pressure, which in turn puts stress on your kidneys and may even result in chronic kidney failure. You may develop kidney stones if you continue to drink excessive caffeinated beverages.



Kidney stones can be hereditary, and if that is the case, you should avoid foods that may contain oxalates. That is the reason why it makes great sense to eliminate rhubarb from your diet. It is extremely high in oxalates and increases your risk of developing kidney stones. Besides, some leafy greens are also included in this category – some great examples are okra, spinach, and Swiss chard.


Carbonated Beverages

Energy drinks, sodas, bottled juices, and other carbonated drinks are not good for your health. They may contribute to the formation of kidney stones and increase your risk of other kidney diseases. The best thing is to drink your water plain. Alternatively, you can enjoy slices of citrus, frozen berries or pomegranate juice.


Genetically Modified Foods

Most processed foods contain genetically modified ingredients, such as rice, soy, corn, sugar beets, cane, and canola, which are not good for your kidneys. Corn is especially bad for your liver and kidneys. Be sure to avoid common sources of genetically modified ingredients, such as prepackaged and processed foods. It is always better to consume organically grown produce.


Frozen Meals

Just like processed foods, it is better to avoid frozen meals because they do not only increase your risk of type-2 diabetes but also damage your kidneys in the long-run. These products undergo heavy processing and are laden with sodium, sugar, and fat, which can be very damaging for your kidneys.


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