Sodium and kidney disease

Salt, or sodium, is found in many foods. If you live with kidney disease, your doctor may advise you to limit the amount of salt in your diet. Too much salt can make it harder for your kidneys to get rid of extra fluid in your body. It can also raise your blood pressure, further damaging your kidneys.

People with kidney disease who have too much salt in their diet may see signs like swelling in the legs and feet, puffiness, and shortness of breath. In bad cases, it can cause fluid to build up around you heart and lungs, leading to serious issues.

High salt foods to avoid

Your dietician will help you put together a low-salt diet. High-salt foods include:

  • Crackers, pretzels, tortilla chips, and popcorn.
  • BBQ sauce, soy sauce, and teriyaki sauce.
  • Processed meats like cold cuts, hot dogs, and Spam.
  • Cured foods like ham, salt pork, pickles, and olives.
  • Other processed foods, including many canned vegetables and juices.
  • Ready-to-eat meals and fast food.

Adding flavor to your food

Even without salt, you can enjoy tasty meals. Use fresh garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, herbs, and other low-salt products. You can also make your own sauces, soups, and salad dressings. Try making your own chips or pretzels.

If you have chronic kidney disease, don’t use salt substitutes like potassium chloride. This can raise your potassium levels, which can hurt your heart.

Cooking at home is the best way to limit your salt intake. If you do go out, order foods without salt, seasonings, or dressings, or ask for them to be served on the side. Restaurants get these requests all the time, so don’t be shy.