The Food as Medicine Connection: Could Coffee Affect Your Risk of CKD?


We all know that coffee isn’t just a morning pick-me-up. It’s become a staple in many of our diets, and for good reason: it’s delicious. But coffee isn’t just delicious, it may actually affect our health?

There are research studies linking coffee with helping to support the body against various health challenges and there are studies linking the use of coffee as a factor that may exacerbate the challenge or even possibly cause a health challenge. Most all foods have compounds within them that affect our body chemistry, this is why the FoodPharmacy program is such an amazing and useful tool when used by a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner.

For example, recent studies have shown that there may be a connection between coffee and kidney disease. Specifically, higher levels of three coffee-related metabolites were significantly associated with higher risks of developing CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease).

While more research is needed, this may be something to think about the next time you reach for that cup of joe, especially if you have a predisposition to CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease) or if you have been diagnosed with CKD..

What Is Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)?

You may have heard of chronic kidney disease (CKD), but do you know what it is? CKD is a condition that affects how well the kidneys function over time. It can lead to kidney failure and even death.

There are many causes of CKD, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). The kidneys are the body’s filtration system. It would only make sense that when overloaded with certain chemicals and metabolites, this may put a strain on the kidneys. Again, coffee is known to have many health promoting properties, so it’s not as if this one study should stop everyone from drinking coffee. So, let’s take a look at the study.

The Research Connecting Coffee and CKD

New research has found that higher levels of three coffee-related metabolites were significantly associated with a higher risk of CKD. In the study, which was published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, scientists analyzed data from 3,811 participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study, a prospective community-based cohort. The study found that of the 372 metabolites that were studied, 41 were associated with coffee consumption.

The study found that participants who had higher levels of particular metabolites were more likely to develop CKD. The researchers and the headline of the study essentially state that their findings support the idea that coffee could increase the risk of CKD. But there is a large amount of data and other studies which suggest that coffee in moderation can be part of a healthy diet. In fact, individuals with Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease according to research, may do very well to drink coffee since the research shows that adding coffee may help reverse the condition. This is why FoodPharmacy is such an important program. It helps practitioners create a personalized patient specific diet.

The study states that 3 metabolites were involved with increasing the risk of CKD, but after reviewing the study it appears that it’s really 2 of the metabolites, O-methylcatechol sulfate and 3-methyl catechol sulfate, that increase the risk of CKD. Interestingly, these metabolites are involved in the metabolism of the preservative benzoate. The one metabolite, glycochenodeoxycholate, appeared to potentially be beneficial and protective of kidney health.

Ways to Reduce the Risk of CKD With Diet

You can reduce your risk of CKD by making some simple diet changes including consuming more foods that are known to be healthy to the kidneys including asparagus, cauliflower, artichokes, eggs, salmon, turnips and according to some other studies coffee in moderation. If you drink coffee, you would be best to drink organic to avoid any preservatives such as benzoates.

Remember to drink plenty of water each day to keep your kidneys functioning well. There is some strong evidentiary research that Hydrogen Rich Water may be beneficial to CKD.

The FoodPharmacy program used by a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner can help create a patient specific food list based not only on decreasing the risk of CKD, but also other factors which may affect your unique situation.

What the Science Says About Caffeine and CKD Risk

So, while this study does suggest that large amounts of coffee could increase the risk of CKD, we cannot be sure if the association was actually the coffee or other dietary factors and lifestyle choices. For individuals who drink large amounts of coffee may also have other poor lifestyle choices.

Other Foods That Positively or Negatively Impact CKD Risk

Coffee isn’t the only food that could influence your risk of CKD. There are certain foods and beverages that can have a positive or negative effect on your risk of developing CKD. For example, as stated earlier, research suggests that increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables, especially those high in sulfur-containing compounds, can be beneficial to those at risk of CKD. On the other hand, excess protein and sodium intake has been linked to increased kidney damage.

FoodPharmacy: Food as Medicine in Managing CKD

Without question, the role of food as medicine can be incredibly powerful in managing chronic kidney disease (CKD).

There are other studies that have shown coffee to be protective of the kidneys when take moderately. At this point, despite this study, I would continue to consider organic coffee to be good for the kidneys when taken in minimal to moderate amounts.

It’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to food choices. Every body is different and will react differently to different foods. So, while there are general guidelines, you should also experiment and find out what works best for you.

There is no doubt that making small changes to your diet might be able to reduce the risk of many health challenges including CKD. At FoodPharmacy™, we believe that individuals should do everything they can to support the body with foods and lifestyle choices that will have the greatest impact on their health and wellbeing. You may want to choose a healthcare professional who is proactive and suggests lifestyle modifications and reviews your medications and supplements as well, for these can affect your kidney health both for the better and worse.


At FoodPharmacy™, we’ll be keeping a close eye on research into the links between not only coffee, but a variety of other foods and lifestyle modifications and health challenges. Whatever we find, we will do our best to keep you well aware. We are always reviewing the latest information for the FoodPharmacy software program.

Research studies:

Metabolites Associated with Coffee Consumption and Incident Chronic Kidney Disease
William J. He, Jingsha Chen, Alexander C. Razavi, Emily A. Hu, Morgan E. Grams, Bing Yu, Chirag R. Parikh, Eric Boerwinkle, Lydia Bazzano, Lu Qi, Tanika N. Kelly, Josef Coresh and Casey M. Rebholz; CJASN November 2021, 16 (11) 1620-1629;

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