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Is Tea Good for Kidney Disease?

You have chronic kidney disease and your nephrologist has told you to drink plenty of fluid. That’s great because some people with kidney disease have to limit fluid, but you don’t. And that’s fantastic.


You’ve done your research, so you know that drinking things like dark colas all day long will cause more kidney damage for you in the long run.


The problem is that as delicious and fresh and crisp as water is, it can get really boring.


So, you’re probably looking through your options and find yourself asking “Can tea actually be good for my kidneys?” 


Well, that’s why I wrote this article. Tea is the 2nd most commonly ingested beverage on the planet. So, we’re going to talk today about how tea can be part of a healthy renal diet. 


Caffeine and Kidney Disease

Most teas have caffeine in them. Though some, like most herbal teas, don't have any.


The Kidney Disease-Improving Global Outcomes taskforce (KDIGO) guidelines recommend avoiding caffeine for at least 30 minutes prior to a blood pressure reading(1), but don't really give recommendations for overall caffeine consumption. 


There is mixed research on whether caffeine is good or bad for kidney disease and some research suggests that the food that caffeine is found in can have a bigger impact on health than the caffeine itself - I’m looking at you coffee.


We know that caffeine is a stimulant, which means that it can increase blood pressure. And we know that it is also a mild diuretic, meaning that it causes the body to get rid of fluid.


This can mean different things for people with kidney disease as some people have to limit caffeine and some don't. You should talk to your doctor if you have questions about whether or not you should limit your caffeine intake.


Three teacups, one with white tea, one with black, tea, and one with green tea sit on a grey surface.
Different teas have varying health benefits for CKD
Why is Tea Good for the Kidneys?

Different teas have different effects on health, some of which may include anticancer, antioxidant, anti-cardiovascular, and antimicrobial activities.


Tea is also a great source of fluid and for these reasons, tea may be helpful in alleviating stress on the kidneys. 


What Tea is Good for Kidney Disease?

Black Tea and CKD

Black tea contains about 50mg of caffeine per cup, just over half of the caffeine found in a cup of coffee and it contains polyphenols that can decrease inflammation.


Studies have also linked black tea with decreased cholesterol levels, improvement in blood pressure in people with hypertension, and was shown to inhibit growth of some cancers(2)


Green Tea for Kidney Health

Green tea is the less processed brother of black tea and only contains about 30mg of caffeine per cup. The limited processing of green tea leaves results in more antioxidants found in the finished product.


Regular consumption of green tea has been linked to a decrease in LDL cholesterol, blood clots, tooth decay, diabetes, cognitive impairment, and gastrointestinal inflammation(3).


Herbal Tea for Kidneys

Herbal teas can be tricky because some herbs used in teas can interact with medications (especially medications used after an organ transplant) and can actually be harder on the kidneys.


Peppermint, turmeric, and ginger teas are likely to be safe. Chamomile has been known to interact with medications, so it is not recommended(4). However, it’s important to speak with your doctor, dietitian, or pharmacist if you have any questions at all regarding what teas are safe for you to drink.


What to Add to Your Tea

The most important thing to be aware of is what you’re putting in your tea. If you’re sweetening it with sugar or sugar substitutes, you may be rendering your efforts void. Added sugar and sugar substitutes have both been shown to increase inflammation(5).


I don’t usually recommend adding sweeteners to tea for this reason, though there are some other things that you can add to spif it up a bit.


  1. Lemons - A slice of lemon can add a bright flavor to your tea without harming your kidneys

  2. Oranges - A slice of orange, even added to 2 or 3 glass of tea a day, can sweeten up your tea and doesn’t contain enough potassium to be of concern to your kidneys

  3. Almond Milk - A splash of almond milk is a kidney-friendly way to add a creaminess to your tea. I like to add a splash to my Chai tea - a black tea mixed with spices like cardamom, coriander, cinnamon and ginger from India

  4. Cinnamon Sticks - A cinnamon stick can be a great addition to black tea when you’re wanting to spice it up a bit

  5. Honeysuckle or Jasmine - Both are great with green tea and if you’re lucky you can also find jasmine tea bags at the grocery store!

  6. Herbs - Mint, basil, and ginger root are all bright and delicious additions to green tea


Tea Can be Part of a Healthy Renal Diet

Whether you’re looking for a bright tea to drink cold on a hot summer day or something warm to have at the end of the night, there’s a tea for you and your stage of kidney disease. As always, if you have any questions about what the renal diet looks like for you, talk to your doctor or dietitian.

Comments


Brandy Winfree, RDN smiling at the camera.

I'm Brandy Winfree, RDN.

When I was working in dialysis, I saw so many patients who had no idea that diet plays a HUGE role in kidney health.

I decided then that I needed to pass my knowledge onto people with kidney disease BEFORE they went into kidney failure. Not after.

That's why I became a board Certified Specialist in Renal Nutrition and why I started this blog. 

You deserve to take care of the kidneys that you have now and I want to share my knowledge with you to make that happen.

Are they any topics that you'd like to hear my thoughts on?

Shoot me a message here.

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