Harvard Health Letter

Fight kidney disease with a better diet, weight loss and smoking cessation

Kidney disease affects 26 million people in the United States and threatens another 73 million who have diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of the disease. Now a study shows that poor eating habits, smoking, and obesity add to that risk. The research, published online April 17, 2013, in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases, found that people were at higher risk for developing kidney problems if they ate lots of red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, and sodium, and did not eat much fruit, legumes, or nuts. Their risk of developing kidney disease doubled if their body mass index was 30 or higher, and it was 60% higher if they smoked. The National Kidney Foundation is urging people to lower their kidney disease risk by losing weight and quitting smoking. Here are specific steps you can take to change your diet: Try to limit your daily salt intake to 1,500 milligrams per day. Try to eliminate red meat, which is high in saturated fat. Cut out sodas and other high-calorie drinks with phosphorus, which can harm kidneys. Lower your sugar intake; this can also lower your risk for diabetes, which is linked to kidney disease. Avoid processed foods such as crackers and chips that are high in salt and phosphorus.

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