Brewing Hope for CKD: Benefits of Drinking Tea

They say there are 2 types of people in this world… Those who are obsessed with tea and others who are yet to make the best utilisation of their taste buds. If you are reading this, I am sure you are aware of a friend, colleague or relative who cannot go a day without tea or you are one of them. But most people relish on the taste and smell of tea, benefiting from its healing qualities without knowing it.

People with Chronic Kidney Disease or End-stage renal disease often ask their Nutritionist if tea is a good choice for their health, especially when it comes to a warm cup of tea during the winter. As with many foods and drinks we are asked about, the answer is “YES”! In moderation, tea is a great beverage option that can be healthfully included in a kidney diet. In fact, there are many exciting health benefits that tea offers to anyone.

Tea, beverage produced by steeping in freshly boiled water the young leaves and leaf buds of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis

The variety of teas that come from this plant contain caffeine and includes:

Green Tea:  

Consult a Nutritionist to know what amount of Green Tea is right for you!

A cup of green tea is full of compounds called “polyphenols,” which function as antioxidants. Green tea is low in potassium and is a low-caffeine beverage that offers a significant antioxidant boost.

Green tea contains ECG (Epicatechin gallate) which is a potent anti-oxidant preventing kidney damage. It also reduces inflammation and cell death. Thus, it proves to be a potent anti-cancer therapy.

If you already have stones in your kidney then also green tea is helpful as it also helps in the removal of stones. Green tea also has a high level of epigallocatechin gallate which also creates a hindrance in the formation of kidney stones. Doctors also recommend green tea to prevent kidney damage and end-stage renal failure.

Black Tea:

Tea is also high in potassium. Check your
intake if your Potassium level is above 5.5

Black tea is a popular beverage and is generally considered good for your overall health. In fact, black tea is protective against diabetes, one of the main risk factors for kidney disease. Black tea contains almost no sodium or phosphorus.  However, results have varied in studies of people who already have kidney disease.

The exact impact of drinking black tea on kidney function and the formation of stones is affected by a lot of variables, including age and sex, baseline kidney function, presence of comorbidities such as diabetes and hypertension, and differences in the tea itself due to different extracts and methods of brewing.

Oolong Tea:

Oolong tea and green tea contain similar amounts of caffeine. The caffeine content and potassium level fall typically between green and black tea but depend on processing.

People who had been consuming oolong tea for the longest time had lower total cholesterol, triglyceride, and LDL cholesterol levels.

White Tea:

White Tea is another tea made from the Camellia Sinensis plant, although it is less popular than black, green, and oolong tea. 

  • The caffeine content of white tea can also vary depending on the product and how it was processed, ranging between 6-75 mg per serving. Unfortunately, the potassium content of white tea was tough to track down
  • Herbal teas come from various plants and flowers and typically do not contain caffeine. most popular herbal teas are safe to drink in moderation if you have kidney disease, including: Ginger, Mint tea (peppermint, spearmint, mint blends), Chamomile, Orange blossom tea, Teas made from fruits, Roobios. Herbal teas can interfere with medications, cause a diuretic effect, lower blood sugar, or raise potassium levels and should be used with caution for people with kidney disease.

Check this table to know how each type of tea stacks up against one another.

Green tea, brewed with tap water (8 oz)20 mg2.5 mg0 mg29 mg
Oolong tea, brewed with tap water (8 oz)26 mg6 mg2 mg35 mg
Black tea, brewed with tap water (8 oz)90 mg7 mg2 mg50 mg

Some Do’s and Don’ts follow for tea to get successful result.

  • Drink at least 1-3 cups every day because polyphenols are not retained in the body for long, it stands to reason that frequent, ongoing tea consumption is necessary to see the benefits.
  • Don’t drink more than 5 cups a day. Too much of anything is bad for health.
  • Individuals going through Dialysis and on a water restricted diet must keep a check on their fluid limit before consuming tea. ( Suggested to stick to 100 ml/ day)
  • Do not add sugar to your tea. Sugar has its own quality and it may not help the kidney.
  • Enjoy your tea for its own essence, without milk.
  • Do brew your tea correctly and for not more than 5 minutes.

Remember- As tea is high in potassium, your kidneys may be unable to filter all of it out, which might cause hyperkalemia, a condition in which the potassium levels in your blood become too high. Hydration can impact kidney function and the ability to remove waste from the body. However, if you have late-stage kidney disease or certain heart conditions, too much fluid can be a problem. Always talk with your Physician and Dietitian about your daily fluid goals.