Diabetes causes damage to your kidneys, and in some cases, it can even cause them to fail. More than 10 percent of American adults have some degree of kidney disease, and 44 percent of new cases of kidney failure are found in patients with diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Not all diabetics develop kidney disease, but there are factors that can influence the risk, including blood pressure and blood sugar control. High blood sugar levels cause the kidneys to filter too much blood. Failing kidneys can’t filter enough blood, which causes waste to build up in the body.

Show your kidneys some kindness by eating foods that may help prevent kidney damage and other complications:

  1. Cranberry juice may help prevent and treat urinary tract infection, and may even help prevent the formation of kidney stones. Pure cranberry juice has antibacterial properties that help flush out bacteria, and quinic acid that helps to prevent the formation of kidney stones. It’s important to check the label when buying any juice. Avoid labels that say “juice cocktail;” these juices can be high in sugar and include very little actual juice. Instead, look for “no sugar added” or "100 percent juice."

  2. Flaxseed oil can help remove excess water and sodium from our bodies, relieving swelling and helping to lower high blood pressure. It can also help balance blood sugar levels.

  3. Egg whites are naturally low in phosphorous, something most people with kidney disease need to limit. Nutritious egg whites contain a high-quality protein and essential amino acids, but none of the cholesterol found in the yolk.

  4. Green tea contains caffeine which assists the kidneys in discharging lactic acid and other wastes. Polyphenols are also found in green tea and may help prevent cardiovascular disease. Those in kidney failure or with serious kidney damage should speak with their doctor before drinking large amounts of caffeine.

  5. Red grapes are rich in iron, which helps your kidneys function. Eating grapes may also help patients who have high blood pressure, inflammation and fatigue. French scientists have found that grapes may have a better effect on preventing blood clots than aspirin.

  6. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties that may help prevent kidney inflammation and infections. This yellow spice has also been shown to help control blood sugar levels in those with diabetes. Turmeric is high in potassium and should be limited by those with high potassium levels.

  7. Garlic is an antioxidant that helps promote kidney health due to its diuretic properties. Garlic may help lower high blood pressure and prevent potential kidney damage.

  8. Apples and other fruits may help ward off kidney stones. They also help lower cholesterol and contain anti-inflammatory properties.

Keeping your blood sugar under control is the best way to lower your chance of developing kidney disease, as recommended by the American Diabetes Association. Always speak with your doctor before making any changes to your diet.

To learn more on this topic:
Kidney-Friendly Foods
Protecting Your Kidneys
Treating Diabetic Kidney Disease