Is Coffee Bad for Your Kidneys? What You Need to Know!

person sipping another cup of coffee

If you’re living with kidney disease or are at risk for developing it, you might be wondering if your coffee habit is doing damage. The good news is that, according to the National Kidney Foundation, consuming coffee is generally safe for those with kidney disease.1

Just like anything connected with our health, nevertheless, the address is more complicated than a simple yes or no. Here’s what you need to know about coffee and your kidneys.

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How Does Coffee Affect Kidney Function?

Coffee is slightly diuretic. This implies that drinking coffee can cause you to pee slightly more than usual, but not enough to actually dehydrate you. Truly, coffee can in fact help you stay hydrated because, depending on how you take your coffee, it can contain up to 98% water.

The caffeine in coffee also has a brief vasoconstrictive effect, meaning it steeps your blood vessels constrict. This can cause a small, temporary increase in blood pressure.

While those with kidney disease need to be careful about their blood pressure, caffeine’s effect is so brief that it’s unlikely to cause any lasting damage. However, you must always ask your doctor if you’re not sure or have any concerns before downing any.

empty coffee cups
Photo Credit: Izz R, Unsplash

Does Coffee Cause Kidney Stones?

Good news for coffee aficionados everywhere: coffee can basically help reduce your risk of kidney stones. According to this study published by the National Kidney Foundation’s (NKF) American Journal of Kidney Diseases (AJKD), drinking up to 1.5 cups of coffee each day can lower your risk of developing kidney stones by as much as 40%.

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Before you run to the nearest café, it’s important to know that this study only looked at those who already had kidney stones. As such, more research is essential to determine if coffee can help prevent kidney stones from developing in the first place.

This is fantastic news considering the huge number of Americans who ingest coffee. Bloomberg claims that 66% of the US population drinks coffee on a each day basis as of 2022, up from 58% from 2021. That’s not hard to believe. Starbucks’s revenue increased by over 14% in the first quarter of 2022, Americans drank 3.3 billion pounds of coffee in 2021, and Folgers sold more than $1 billion worth of coffee in 2019. In short, we love our coffee.

Can Coffee Damage Your Kidneys?

Not by itself, no, coffee isn’t likely to cause kidney damage. To learn why, it’s important to understand the common triggers of kidney damage, which are:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol work with
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Recurrent kidney infection
  • Certain medications

As you can see, coffee isn’t on the list. While coffee itself isn’t likely to cause kidney damage, the same can’t be said for some of the add-ins.

For example, numerous coffee drinks are just desserts in disguise. A Salted Caramel Mocha from Starbucks, among the most popular items on their menu, packs 59 grams of sugar in a grande cup. That’s nearly double the American Heart Association’s recommended on a each day basis consumption of sugar, and sipping that much sugar can lead to weight gain, which is a risk aspect for developing kidney disease.

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Coffee creamer, another common add-in, is likewise high in sugar and calories—usually 5 grams of sugar per serving. Add flavored syrups, sweetened whipped cream, and other toppings, and you’ve got a method for weight gain and poor kidney health.

lots of coffee cups on white background
Photo Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Is Decaffeinated Coffee Bad for Your Kidneys?

Again, not necessarily, no. Actually, if you love the taste of coffee however can do without the caffeine kick, decaffeinated coffee might be a good preference. Decaf coffee is lower in caffeine than normal coffee, nevertheless it still flavors like the genuine thing.

If you keep the mix-ins to a minimum, decaf coffee is a perfectly healthy option for those with kidney disease or anyone who wants to avoid caffeine’s side results.

Can I Consume Coffee With Chronic Kidney Disease?

For most people, the answer is yet. But again, it is always advised to ask your doctor first. A study found that people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) can benefit from having coffee. Specifically, increased caffeine consumption can help lower the risk of death in those with CKD by improving vascular role.

Do remember that the recommended day to day caffeine intake is 400 milligrams, which is about 4 cups of typical brewed coffee. So, if you have CKD, it’s best to stick to plain coffee or decaf.

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Final Thoughts

Sipping coffee is not usually bad for your kidneys, and it may even have some health benefits. It’s still important to be mindful of your caffeine intake, including what you add to your morning cup of coffee. Not sure how much coffee and caffeine is safe for you? Talk to your physician or dietitian for personalized recommendations.

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Featured Picture Credit: SrideeStudio, Shutterstock

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This post firstly appeared at Coffee Brewing Methods, a website where you can learn how to make coffee at home, and how to choose your coffee brewing equipment and beans.

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