Maybe, you do not pay much attention to your kidneys. For those, who practice yoga, they would have often heard their instructors saying, “Breathe into your kidneys” and you can make neither head nor tail of this statement.

Your kidneys work really hard and play an important role in your body. These are present below the rib cage on the sides of the spine. They are pretty small; about the size of your fists. As per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), kidneys filter more than 1,89,000 cubic centimeter of blood each day and 1890 cubic centimeter of waste. The waste products and water get filtered by the kidneys to the bladder and it gets secreted as urine.

Kimberly Snyder says that detoxification or removal of waste from the kidney is important for the healthy functioning of the kidneys. However, there are some foods that are harmful for the kidneys and prevent their optimal functioning. Discussed below are some foods that are not good for your kidneys:

  • Meat: Diets rich in animal protein may lead to damage of the kidney. Mayo Clinic suggests that a diet with high content of protein can aggravate kidney problems. This is because metabolism of proteins puts more load on the kidneys; thereby, causing difficulty in eliminating the waste.

A 2003 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition said that diet having high amounts of animal proteins could increase the likelihood of getting kidney stones that may develop from uric acid. On the contrary, a vegetarian diet decreases the amount of uric acid and prevent formation of stones.


Uric acid is a common cause of kidney stones and it is a consequence of eating foods like meat, fish and seafood that have high content of purines. These foods may result in other types of kidney stones as well, such as calcium oxalate stones. These form as the amount of calcium to be excreted in the urine increases.

Metabolism of animal protein results in residue, which is acidic in nature. The body generally prefers an alkaline state, so it extracts calcium and other salts from the bones to regain the alkaline state. Calcium results in calcium oxalate kidney stones. So, go for veggies, seeds, nuts and grains to meet the protein requirements of your body.

  • Salt: For maintaining proper balance of body fluids, some amount of sodium is needed. But, processed foods contain a lot of salt, which is added with an intention of improving their flavor. The most-used one is processed table salt. Kimberly warns that when too much salt is consumed, kidneys retain water to dilute the electrolyte in the blood to maintain proper functioning of the heart. This forces the kidneys to overwork.

The Harvard School of Public Health says that if you take too much of salt, kidneys will get damaged along with the heart and aorta. The intake of salt increases blood pressure, which damages the nephrons of the kidneys that filter waste. If you have to use salt, use Celtic or sea salt.

  • Genetically Modified Foods: Many processed foods have ingredients that are genetically modified like corn, rice, canola, sugar cane and so forth. Seeds are modified for many reasons like immunizing the plant against herbicides, increasing resistance to pest, and improving crop yields.

A study conducted on rats showed that genetically modified corn had negative effects on the functioning of liver and kidney. Hepatorenal toxicity was found in them.[1]

The long-term impact of genetically modified foods has not been extensively studied because these foods have been a regular feature of only the Western diet. So, it is better to avoid them as there is strong evidence available till date about their long-term effects. It is advisable to opt for produce, which is grown organically, and avoid prepackaged and processed foods.

  • Artificial Sweeteners: Some people believe that it is healthy to consume artificial sweeteners as these do not have calories. However, in opposition to this notion, Kimberly quotes about a study, which revealed that artificial sweeteners negatively impact the functioning of the kidneys to the extent that it declines with just two diet sodas in a day. So, it is best to avoid artificial sweeteners.
  • Carbonated Beverages: Energy drinks and carbonated beverages like soda are also linked to the formation of kidney stones. Drinking two or more soda each day leads to increased likelihood of developing kidney diseases. You should go for plain water with lemon.
  • Dairy Products: The issue with dairy products is the same as that with animal proteins. Consumption of dairy products causes calcium to get excreted in the urine, which results in enhanced risk for the development of kidney stones.

Limiting the consumption of dairy products can help prevent kidney disease and failure. This is because by doing so, you can ease the process of filtration by the kidneys. Unsweetened almond milk can be a way better option.

  • Caffeine: This ingredient is present in tea, coffee and soda, and can strain the kidneys. It stimulates the blood flow, increases blood pressure and stresses the kidneys. A study indicates that the consumption of caffeine aggravates the condition of kidney failure in rats with diabetes and obesity. It boosts the calcium secretion in urine; thereby, resulting in the formation of kidney stones.