The Silent Approach of Chronic Kidney Disease Plus Nourishing Diet Tips

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Chronic kidney disease is an exceptionally common condition with non-specific symptoms that develop slowly over time. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two most common causes of the disease in adults.

The kidneys filter waste and excess fluid from the blood to be excreted through urination. When chronic kidney disease (CKD) is not properly managed in the early stages, kidney function will gradually degrade, and eventually develop into chronic renal failure, known as uremia.

Kidney patients may experience edema, fatigue, anemia, oliguria, or lack of urine production. CKD may also be accompanied by high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke, and may result in premature death. In the later stage, dialysis treatment or kidney transplantation is required.

The CDC estimates that more than one in seven, or 15 percent of U.S. adults are living with CKD, with as many as nine out of 10 unaware of their condition. Moreover, about two-fifths of adults with severe CKD do not know they have it.

Causes of CKD

  • Diabetes.
  • Hypertension.
  • Glomerulonephritis (inflammation of the tiny filters in the kidneys).
  • Interstitial nephritis (inflamed kidney tubules).
  • Polycystic kidney disease (cysts).
  • Long-term urinary tract obstruction, such as enlarged prostate, kidney stones, and cancerous tumors.
  • Drugs that cause nephropathy (deterioration of kidney function).

Stages of CKD

Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is a functional index that indicates how good the kidneys are at filtering waste from the blood and can reflect the degree of damage to the kidneys. The National Kidney Foundation divides CKD into five levels of severity based on the GFR value.

  • Stage I: GFR greater than 90—normal kidney function.
  • Stage II: GFR = 60~89—mild damage to the kidneys.
  • Stage III: GFR = 30~59—moderately impaired renal function.
  • Stage IV: GFR = 15~29—kidney function is severely impaired.
  • Stage V: GFR less than 15—kidneys cannot function normally, uremic symptoms appear, and hemodialysis (a treatment to filter wastes and water from the blood) may be needed.

Treatment of CKD focuses on slowing the progression of kidney damage, which is usually achieved by controlling the cause(s). In that respect, what special care should people with kidney disease take in their daily diet?

1. Salt: People with CKD should control the intake of three kinds of salts: sodium, potassium, and phosphorus salt.

2. Vegetables: People with kidney problems or those who are worried about kidney problems should choose low-sodium, low-potassium, low-phosphorus, and nutritious vegetables, such as cauliflower, radish, daikon, shiitake mushrooms, cabbage, garlic, red pepper, etc.

3. Fruit: Red grapes, pineapples, blueberries, and cranberries are all low in phosphorus, sodium, and potassium, yet rich in anthocyanins, as well as a variety of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substances. They are good for kidney disease patients, including patients with urinary system infections.

4. Protein and fat: When choosing edible oil, olive oil should be the number one choice, as it is rich in essential fatty acids and is anti-inflammatory. In addition, deep-sea bass is a nutritious source of protein and fat, as it is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids that help protect the kidneys and reduce inflammation.

5. Other foods: Buckwheat is nutritious and gluten-free—great for people with CKD. Bulgur (crushed wheat) is also a nutrient-packed nutrient-packed grain—a healthy addition to the diet.

Epoch Health articles are for informational purposes and are not a substitute for individualized medical advice. Please consult a trusted professional for personal medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment. Have a question? Email us at

Dr. Jingduan Yang

Dr. Jingduan Yang is a faculty member at the University of Arizona’s Center for Integrative Medicine, former assistant professor of psychiatry, and director of the Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture Program at the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University. He completed a research fellowship in clinical psychopharmacology at Oxford University, residency training in psychiatry at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, and a Bravewell Fellowship in integrative medicine at the University of Arizona. You can find out more about Dr. Yang at his website

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