Is Coffee Bad for Your Kidneys? A Definitive Breakdown

To say coffee is a fan favorite of Americans is an understatement. It is a morning staple for half the population who drink it daily.

When someone is diagnosed with kidney disease and is forced to make dietary changes, they often ask if they need to give up coffee. The kidneys are one of the body’s filtration systems, after all. 

In short, the answer is no, but there are some things to consider for all you coffee-lovers with kidney issues.

How Much Coffee You Drink Matters

As with all things in life, moderation is key. Too much tuna can cause mercury toxicity. Too much cinnamon can cause liver toxicity. The question is, can coffee raise your potassium level?

In regards to coffee, three to four cups a day (which is fairly standard for Americans) is considered high in constituents that may be harmful to those with kidney disease - such as potassium. Then when you factor in that most people add creamer or milk and the potassium content is even further elevated. 

To keep the body balanced and not over-consume coffee, limit your intake to three or fewer cups a day. 

Mind Your Blood Pressure

Research indicates that coffee may increase blood pressure for a short duration after consumption. 

For those who are more habitual coffee drinkers, this impact was not associated with the same temporary increase. Researchers speculate it may be due to caffeine tolerance that develops when you habitually drink coffee. 

However, for those who are infrequent coffee drinkers, this will more likely occur, but there won’t be any associated kidney pain after drinking coffee. 

While coffee may increase blood pressure temporarily after consumption, the effects don’t seem to extend beyond a short duration. For those with high blood pressure and kidney disease, research suggests coffee is unlikely to have a significant impact on the overall risk.

That being said, limiting consumption to three or fewer cups a day is ideal. 

Synthetic Additives 

The way coffee is processed and what has often been added are bigger problems than coffee itself. An 8-ounce latte made without flavored syrup rings in with 183 mg of phosphorus and a surprising 328 mg of potassium.

Additionally, cheaper versions of coffee are often sources of toxic mold. According to Dave Asprey, "cheaper coffee varieties cost less because they use poor quality beans and they allow a higher percentage of damaged [moldy] beans and then companies process them with techniques that add flavor but amplify the number of toxins."

Then there is the consideration of coffee creamers. Manufacturers are known to add chemical phosphates for flavor, shelf stability, or who knows what other reasons. These chemical phosphates are easily and readily absorbed by the body and can cause damage not only to the average layperson but specifically those with kidney disease. 

To ensure premium, clean coffee, which is an acceptable beverage for those with kidney disease, always purchase from trusted sources and buy organic and locally roasted whenever possible.

Our Wild coffee beans are just that and can be purchased here. 

In summary, consuming coffee in moderation will pose little risk for those with kidney disease. Additives in coffee such as cream and milk can increase the potassium and phosphorus levels in coffee. Always consult your physician or dietician for specific questions about how coffee may influence your health. 

‚ÄúAs long as there was coffee in the world, how bad could things be?‚ÄĚ - Cassandra Clare, City of Ashes

Common Questions and Answers:

Is coffee bad for the kidneys?

There is no research to indicate that 3-4 cups of coffee per day increases the risk of kidney disease or the rate at which the kidneys decline. Caffeine itself causes short and sudden increases in blood pressure. Like anything, moderation is key. We recommend cycling on and off from coffee to achieve the best results in drinking it. 

Does coffee cause kidney stones?

Kidney stones are a common condition and have a 10% prevalence among men and 7% among women.

According to one study, “Caffeine intake has been shown to be associated with increased urinary calcium excretion (6) and, as such, could potentially increase the risk of developing kidney stones, although in our previous reports we consistently found an inverse association between consumption of caffeine-containing beverages, such as coffee and tea, and the risk of incident stones.

What is bad for the kidneys?

While coffee may not be a hindrance to the kidneys, many other things are. Processed foods contain significant amounts of phosphorus and iodized sodium (not Real Food). Many individuals who suffer from kidney disease need to limit their sodium and phosphorus intake. Research has shown that consuming processed foods with high phosphorus amounts by those with kidney disease may be harmed in the process. 

How can I improve my kidney function?

To keep your kidneys functioning optimally, there are a few things everyone needs to do.

  1. Keep your body hydrated. Drinking adequate fluids will keep your kidneys functioning properly. 
  2. Eat Real Food. Keeping your diet balanced and consisting of Real Foods will ensure you intake all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to thrive. There are also many beneficial herbs for kidneys. 
  3. Keep an eye on your blood pressure.
  4. Refrain from smoking and drinking alcohol. 
  5. Move your body and keep off excess weight.