More than half of seniors age 75 or older are likely to have kidney disease, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Kidneys perform critical functions within the body. They balance your electrolyte and fluid levels, filter your blood and help process waste which gets expelled through urine.
Some foods are particularly valuable to support kidney health because they are high in vitamins and minerals essential for your kidneys to function. Even if you do not deal with a chronic kidney disease the following foods are great additions to your diet to support kidney health.
- Berries, such as blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, are excellent sources of fiber, manganese, vitamin C, folate and other antioxidants.
- Cranberries, whether in the form of juice, sauce or dried, help prevent bladder infections, reducing the risk that bacteria might migrate up into the kidneys.
- Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, chard and collard greens, contain various flavonoids, carotenoids, folate and vitamins such as A, C and K which promote kidney health.
- Other cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage or broccoli are high in vitamins B6, C and K, folic acid, and fiber.
- Sweet potatoes offer beta-carotene, fiber and multiple vitamins and minerals including potassium. Note, however, that too much potassium is dangerous for those with kidney problems.
- Olive oil and the omega-3 fatty acids available in salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines are also healthy foods for kidneys.
FROM FOOD LIST TO FULL MEALS
So, how can you incorporate healthy foods for kidneys into everyday meals? Here’s how we approach that in senior living communities managed by The Goodman Group.
It all ties together, says Mark Holmes, national director of culinary operations. You may not have kidney problems, but you may have another condition such as diabetes. If your diabetes is not well-managed, that can lead to kidney problems and the need for dialysis. By working to control your diabetes, you can extend the time before drastic measures may be needed for your kidneys.
Mark notes that what we put in our mouth now will affect our disease state 10 or 20 years from now. “If a new resident arrives at a later point in their disease progression,” he says, “we have to focus on improving their status if possible, or at least not exacerbating it.”
“The real goal is to achieve a healthy living status for each resident,” Mark explains. You may hear a lot of talk about “farm-to-table,” or “our community has the best food” or a “real” chef. “What really matters,” says Mark, “is the impact the end product has on people.” For example, if you have kidney disease, then organic, free-range chicken may not be a good choice if the chicken was raised on high-potassium feed.
We are more inclined to serve foods that will have the largest impact on our community members' health. We serve meals that are just as delicious as they are individualized.
WE TAKE A PERSONALIZED APPROACH
As part of our liberalized diet program, we work with each resident one on one to develop menu items that are nutritionally sound for them but also reflect their personal food preferences. This helps residents make healthier, more appropriate food choices.
Senior nutrition is complex. Mark describes it as a wheel with 100 spokes, each of them representing something related to food. But there is also another wheel, with 50 spokes relating to each person’s health needs and food preferences, and it’s turning in the opposite direction.
Focusing on the individual is how communities managed by The Goodman Group dial in on meal plans to serve the healthiest foods in order to promote holistic health.