Lifestyle Changes to Support Kidney Health

Lifestyle Changes to Manage IgAN Care
the PicnicHealth Team
March 22, 2023
Blog post originally written by the AllStripes community team. AllStripes was acquired by PicnicHealth in 2023.

IgA nephropathy, also known as IgAN or Berger’s disease is a type of kidney disease that occurs when there is an excess build-up of immunoglobulin-A (IgA) within the kidneys. If left untreated, this can cause inflammation of the kidneys and other complications that reduce the kidneys’ ability to efficiently filter waste products from the bloodstream.

Unfortunately, IgAN cannot be reversed, but there are ways to slow the course of the disease and manage its symptoms with the help of medical technology, treatment methods, and lifestyle changes. Thanks to numerous advancements in medical technology and treatment methods, there are ways to slow the course of the disease and mitigate some of the damage to the kidneys. With proper treatment and lifestyle adjustments, many individuals with IgA nephropathy can manage their symptoms effectively and experience improved longevity post-diagnosis.

In this article, we will go over some of the things people living with IgA nephropathy can do to support kidney health, and how a handful of common lifestyle and dietary changes can help reduce stress on the body’s kidneys and urinary system.

Understanding IgA Nephropathy

IgAN usually progresses slowly over years, but the course of the disease varies from person to person. Some people leak blood in their urine without developing other problems, while others may eventually achieve complete remission or develop end-stage kidney failure.

Because it can take years for significant IgA nephropathy-related kidney damage to develop, some people may have IgA nephropathy and not be aware of it. The first signs an individual might notice are pink or tea-colored urine, visible blood in the urine, or foamy urine (2).

If left untreated, IgA nephropathy can cause high blood pressure, high cholesterol, nephrotic syndrome, or even death (1). Hence, it’s vital to visit the doctor and schedule appropriate tests if you suspect a problem with your kidneys.

IgA Nephropathy Diet

If you are wondering which foods can help support healthy kidney function, there are many options to choose from. While healthcare providers may offer a chronic kidney disease diet food list, it’s essential to consult with your healthcare team before making any dietary changes to ensure that it is the right fit for you. One diet that may be recommended for people with chronic kidney problems is the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet.

The DASH diet emphasizes a variety of nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and lean meats, while limiting sodium, red meat, saturated and trans fats, and added sugars. This diet can help to lower blood pressure, which can make life easier for the kidneys. Additionally, the DASH diet has been shown to promote weight loss and reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as cancer or diabetes.

However, while the DASH diet is generally considered beneficial for kidney health, some foods that are permissible within the DASH diet may not be suitable for inflamed or diseased kidneys. Therefore, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before making any changes to your diet. Your healthcare provider(s) can help you customize your diet to meet your unique needs, medical history, and other relevant information.

Ten Foods Bad for Kidneys

People suffering from chronic kidney disease or IgA nephropathy may have a more difficult time filtering certain minerals within the bloodstream. Because of this, it’s often very important for people with kidney issues to eliminate sources of excess sodium, potassium, and phosphorus from their diets (3).

Here are ten foods to avoid:

  1. Canned goods (especially those high in sodium)
  2. Whole wheat bread (due to the higher content of potassium and phosphorus)
  3. Bananas (high in potassium)
  4. Chips, crackers, pretzels (snack foods like this are generally high in sodium)
  5. Potatoes, sweet potatoes (high in potassium)
  6. Apricots (high in potassium)
  7. Pickled foods (typically high in sodium)
  8. Brown rice (similar to whole grain bread with a higher content of potassium and phosphorus)
  9. Avocados (high in potassium)
  10. Dairy products (high in potassium and phosphorus)


While some people with IgA nephropathy may be able to eat some of these foods in moderation, it’s best to consult with your doctor or primary care physician before drastically altering your diet.

In summary, IgAN cannot be reversed, but medical technology, treatment methods, and lifestyle changes can slow the course of the disease and manage its symptoms. People living with IgAN can support their kidney health by following a DASH diet, avoiding foods high in sodium, potassium, and phosphorus, and consulting with their healthcare providers before making any dietary changes. By taking proactive steps to manage their symptoms, people with IgAN can live longer and healthier lives.



the PicnicHealth Team

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However, it's important to consult with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian to determine the appropriate amount of protein for your individual needs. In general, a diet with moderate protein intake (about 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day) is recommended for people with kidney diseases.

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