“Doctor, what Indian foods will lower my creatinine levels?” — this is a question that I’m often asked. Diet is an important important part of managing high creatinine levels BUT no diet can cure the disease.
The goals of a balanced diet in patients with high creatinine are :
- Decrease the work load of kidneys
- Keep important parameters especially potassium and phosphorus in normal range
- Diet should be enough to cater to the daily needs of the patients without making them weak due to starvation
Often, dietary restrictions are carried to an extreme which can be harmful. Of course, following no guidelines at all is equally harmful. There is a “middle path” which patients need to follow. I will try to guide you on that path in this article by answering the most common questions that patients ask me. This advice is mainly for patients diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD) as the cause of high creatinine levels.
What food should be avoided if creatinine is high?
Following are the foods that should be limited or avoided when creatinine is too high.
High sodium foods
A person suffering from CKD or who has high levels of creatinine should limit his/her consumption of foods that are high in their sodium content, as your kidneys are responsible to excrete all the excess of the consumed sodium.
Hence, to avoid putting any extra load on the kidneys, it is important to moderate your salt intake and prefer food items that are low in sodium.
Foods that are packaged like processed meat, cheese, chips, butter, fast food, pickles, papad, bakery and chat items are generally high in sodium.
Eating too much salty food also increases thirst in a person. This leads to fluid retention and swelling. In severe situations this can be life threatening if the excess fluid enters the lungs.
High potassium foods
Potassium is an important mineral that is responsible to maintain electrolyte balance in the body. However, when a person has CKD or has high creatinine levels, it means the kidneys aren’t functioning well.
This results in the build-up of potassium levels in the blood, which could be dangerous as it can disturb the proper functioning of the heart.
Potassium is commonly found in vegetables and fruits such as apricots, raisins, potatoes, pumpkin, avocados, prunes, meat, banana, oranges, etc. It is important to limit these foods to a minimum to avoid putting any extra load on the kidneys.
High phosphorus foods
Phosphorus is also an important mineral that might get accumulated in the blood when a person is suffering from a kidney disease like CKD.
When phosphorus levels get too high in the blood, calcium could get leached from the bones and build up in the blood vessels which could lead to bone diseases and blockages in blood vessels.
Foods that are rich in phosphorus include seafood (shellfish, salmon), beef, pork, dairy products, soy products, and carbonated beverages.
High protein foods
When the kidneys are not functioning well, it is unable to excrete out the byproducts that are produced from the breakdown of foods.
Studies show that high protein foods like meat and seafood when broken down in the body cause an increase in overall serum creatinine levels.
For a person with healthy kidneys, it is not a problem. However, for someone with kidney disease like CKD, it might make the kidneys work harder to excrete out the waste products produced by these high protein foods.
Therefore, it is important to regulate the consumption of protein and not eat meals that are high in protein content, and maintain moderate protein consumption.
This is one more area where patients often go wrong. Protein needs to be moderated and not eliminated. Most Indian patients don’t need to restrict protein at all as the usual protein content in Indian diet is low.
Avoid foods that are packaged and processed because these foods are loaded with high amounts of sugar, salt, and minerals like potassium.
Not only these foods do not provide any nutritional value to the body but also put the kidneys at risk especially for a CKD patient.
Is lemon good to reduce creatinine?
For an individual who is suffering from CKD or someone with high creatinine levels including lemon in their diet would not reduce creatinine levels as lemon alone cannot lower creatinine levels in the blood.
To lower creatinine levels, a kidney disease patient must carefully manage their diet as a whole and avoid foods that can worsen the kidneys’ ability to regulate creatinine levels even more.
While lemon alone cannot reduce creatinine levels in the body, at the same time it does not worsen the condition of the kidneys either.
Hence, drinking lemon water or including lemon in any other form in the diet is safe for a person with high creatinine levels.
How can I lower my creatinine level quickly with diet?
Unfortunately, diet alone cannot decrease creatinine levels. In fact, trying to do that can be harmful as it generally leads to restricting everything and losing weight, low energy and low immunity.
However, it is important to keep in mind that following a healthy kidney diet will help you to manage the condition better.
Every kidney patient requires a customized diet plan based on his/her condition. Therefore it is fair to say, there is no one diet that works for everyone and you must consult a healthcare professional and get your condition assessed before going on a particular diet.
Now I will list down some foods which you can include in your diet that can help you in managing your creatinine levels. These are suggestions and not written in stone.
- Soaked green leafy vegetables
(Soaking vegetables in water before cooking helps in reducing potassium content significantly)
These fruits are chosen because they are low in potassium.
- White Rice
- Wheat products
(Avoid brown rice and whole-grain foods since they contain high levels of phosphorus)
Pulses and Legumes
- Toor dal
- Arhar dal
- Bengal gram
(Must be soaked in water before cooking)
As I mentioned above, diet plays a major role while treating kidney disease. When someone is suffering from a kidney disease like CKD, the kidneys can no longer excrete waste products in the same manner as they did before.
Hence, it is important to support the health of your kidneys by managing your diet accordingly.
Keeping your overall meals low in sodium, potassium, phosphorus and moderating the amount of protein you eat helps the kidneys to not get overloaded.
It is also essential to avoid processed food and manage your fluid intake and not over-consume any liquid to put further pressure on the kidneys.