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Kidney Diet: What You Need To Know If You Have A Kidney Condition

Kidney disease affects all the jobs your healthy kidneys do. Impaired kidneys do not remove waste out of your body very well. Hence, wastes start to build up in your body. 

If you are wondering what diet you should eat, check out below:



  1. High-Quality Protein 

Proteins are used by the body for growth, to build and repair muscles and other tissues. The amount of protein you need depends on your height and weight. Therefore, you should consume a high quality protein such as chicken, eggs, fish and tofu.

When you have kidney disease, you need to make an effort to protect the working filters. For example, if your kidneys are working at 20%, this means only 20% of the filters are filtering urea. If you are eating excessive protein, you make these filters work even harder.

You will have to limit protein foods to prolong the life of your kidneys. It will help you keep off dialysis treatments.


  1. Eat Low Potassium Foods

Potassium is a mineral found in food. Your muscles and nerves need potassium to work well. Your heart muscle needs potassium for a strong beat. However, a high amount of potassium can make your heartbeat irregular. Too much potassium might even cause your heart to stop beating. Thus, you should limit high potassium foods in your diet.

A safe or standard amount of potassium is 3.5 to 5.0 mmol.

These are some recommendations of low to medium potassium foods:

Fruit and Juice

  • Apple and apple juice, berries (black, blue, goose, raspberries, and strawberries), grape, lemon juice, lime juice, mandarin orange, pineapple and pineapple juice, raisins (2 tablespoons, 15ml), and watermelon


  • Asparagus (4 spears), beans (green, wax), broccoli, cabbage, fresh mushroom, kale, lettuce, red or green pepper, raw spinach, and watercress


  1. Eat Low Phosphorus Foods 

Phosphorus is a mineral found in many foods. Phosphorus helps keep your bones strong and healthy. As the function of your kidney decreases, the amount of phosphate in your blood may raise, causing itchy skin, a loss of calcium from your bones, and painful bony deposits in your heart, skin, joints, and blood vessels.

According to St Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, the recommended amount of phosphorus in foods depends on how much of your kidneys are working:

  • If you are undergoing dialysis treatments, the range is 1.13 to 1.78 mmol/L.
  • If you have lower kidney function and are not undergoing dialysis treatments, the range is 0.87 to 1.49 mmol/L.

Here are some recommendations of low phosphorus foods:


  • Coffee, homemade iced tea, lemonade without phosphate additives and 100% fruit juice without added calcium

Bread, Cereal, and Grains

  • Bread: cracked wheat, sourdough, white, and 60% whole wheat
  • Cereal: Cheerios, non-bran cereals, rice cereals, and Rice Krispies
  • Grains: Bagels, bulgur, white rice, and white pasta
  • Others: Cookies, graham crackers, muffins, unsalted crackers, and waffles

Meat and Protein

  • All other unseasoned or fresh chicken, eggs, fish, pork, turkey, and lamb

Fresh Vegetables

  • Cauliflowers, carrots, cucumber, celery, green beans and broccoli


  1. Cut Down Sodium Foods

The common name for sodium is salt and is found in many foods, especially processed or canned foods. Sodium keeps the amount of water in your body balanced. It also helps to retain blood pressure normal. Your body needs very little sodium.

The recommended amount of sodium you should get a day from is between 1,500 and 2,300 mg.

Here are some tips to cut down on sodium in your diet:

  • Avoid adding salt, such as kosher salt, pickling salt, and sea salt when cooking
  • Cut down the foods that contain hidden sodium such as canned soups, pickles, processed food, salty meats, and snacks

Here are some low sodium foods you can have in your diet:


  • Coffee, fruit juice, lemonade, low sodium mineral water, tea, and water
  • Consult to your dietitian about your daily fluid limit and acceptable fluid choices

Cookies, Crackers, and Snacks

  • Unsalted chips, crackers, popcorn, and pretzels


  • Sherbet/sorbet or gelatin

Unsalted Butter

All Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Meat and Protein

  • Fresh roast beef, chicken, or turkey for sandwiches
  • Avoid cured, pickled, and smoked meats as they have excessive-high in salt

Salad Dressings and Condiments

  • Make your salad dressings with the flavouring of herb vinegar.
  • Make your flavoured oils with fresh herb and garlic


  • Apply fresh celery seeds, fresh garlic, garlic powder, and onion flakes
  • Avoid seasoned salts such as celery salt, garlic salt, and onion salt


  • Make your soup with herbs and spices
  • Do not apply bouillon cubes, powder or regular soup bases for flavour


  1. Control Fluid Intake

Your kidneys are unable to produce the usual amount of urine while you are doing dialysis. At this time, you will need to control the amount of fluid you drink and the amount you can base on the amount of urine you make

You must not attempt to reach more than 2.0 to 2.5 kilograms of water weight between each dialysis treatment

The fluid intake of a patient on dialysis is computed by adding the total urine output and additional 500 ml of liquid. Food consumed that melts into a liquid state at room temperature (25°C) is also considered as fluid.

Here are some strategies that will help you with the thirst for fluids: 

  • Avoid using salt and salty foods.
  • Swallow medications with soft foods such as apple sauce and save fluid for when you are thirsty. ·
  • Suck on a lemon wedge or put lemon in water. The sour taste helps quench thirst. 
  • Measure the total volume you can drink in a jug and drink from this all day.
  • Put grapes in the freezer. Eat frozen grapes when thirsty.

Other Foods and Fluids:

  • Fruits and vegetables naturally contain water. However, they will not contribute large volumes of water to your daily-total intake of fluids when consumed in moderation. 


  1. Maintain Healthy Weight
  • Body weights are associated with kidney disease. Hence it is important to lose weight or to maintain at a healthy weight range.
  • Consuming enough calories to reach your ideal body weight.
  • Avoid restricting calories because your body will activate its “survival mode” and starts to store fat in your body.
  • The amount of calories needed depends on your age, gender, weight, and how energetic you are.
  • You may consult with your dietitian to help you with the food choices with proper nutrition and calories for you.

People suffering from kidney disease should avoid or limit the foods that high in potassium, phosphorus, and sodium. Not to forget to limit on foods with high glycemic index if you are diabetic.

 Written By:

Ng Kai Wen

BSc.(Hons). Food Science with Nutrition

UCSI University


Reviewed By:

Jasmine Lim

Love Earth Organic Nutritionist

Bachelor of Science Degree in

Dietetics (major) & Food Science (minor)

Iowa State University, USA


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