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Chronic Kidney Disease Diet

There are five stages of chronic kidney disease, with damage to the kidneys increasing with each corresponding stage. Stage 1 indicates slight damage to the kidneys while stage 5 signifies total kidney or renal failure. A special chronic kidney disease diet is very important, as this will help to reduce the buildup of waste products within the patient’s system. A diet for chronic kidney disease at stage 1 will differ from that of stage 2 diet, a stage 3 diet, a stage 4 diet, or a stage 5 diet. Your doctor will recommend dietary changes according to the progression of this disease or if you need dialysis.

A diet for people with chronic kidney disease may need to incorporate the following changes:

  • Fluid intake may need to be limited depending on the stage of kidney disease
  • Protein intake may also need to be limited depending on the stage of kidney disease
  • Intake of salt, potassium, phosphorus, and other electrolytes needs to be limited
  • Calorie intake should be sufficient to maintain ideal body weight

Dietary concerns for chronic kidney disease

A diet for people with chronic kidney disease needs to maintain a balance of fluids, minerals and electrolytes.

In a healthy individual the kidneys filter out waste products, but in a person with kidney disease the functioning of the kidneys is severely disrupted and this leads to the buildup of waste products within the system. These are the most common dietary concerns for those with chronic kidney disease:

  • Fluids – In the early stages of chronic kidney disease, you may not need to limit your fluid intake. However, as the disease progresses you will need to limit your fluid intake. You doctor will advise you to stick to a specific recommended fluid intake.
  • Carbohydrates –People who are overweight or have diabetes will need to limit the amount of carbohydrates in their food. Your doctor or dietician will advise you on the proportion of carbohydrates in your diet plan. Foods rich in carbohydrates include fruits, breads, grains and vegetables. Apart from energy, these foods will also provide you with fiber, minerals and vitamins.
  • Fats – Fats are a good source of calories. Use only monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as olive oil or safflower oil as these oils are good for the heart.
  • Proteins – Too much protein in the diet can burden the kidneys and further damage them. This can speed up the progression of the disease. Proteins in foods like meat and dairy products are broken down into waste products such as nitrogen and creatinine. Your kidneys are cannot process these wastes efficiently and this leads to a buildup of these wastes in the blood and causes health problems. Foods rich in proteins include meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, eggs, lentils and pulses.
  • Minerals & electrolytes– The levels of calcium, phosphorus, sodium, and potassium in your diet also need to be monitored carefully. Phosphorus levels in the blood can increase even in the early stages causing calcium levels to drop, thereby affecting your bones. Dairy products should be limited because of their high phosphorus levels. Reducing your salt intake helps to control high blood pressure, reduces thirst, and helps your body to get rid of excess fluid. Look for phrases such as ‘low-sodium’, ‘sodium-free’, ‘unsalted’, and ‘no salt added’ on food labels. Kidney damage can lead to an increase in potassium levels which can affect the functioning of your heart. While fruits and veggies are healthy food choices, you will need to avoid those that are high in potassium. Instead, focus on low potassium fruits and veggies which are excellent foods for chronic kidney disease. Fruits with low levels of potassium include peaches, grapes, pears, cherries, apples, berries, plums, pineapples and watermelon. Vegetables with low potassium content include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, carrots, eggplant, lettuce, onions, and peppers.

Foods to Avoid for Chronic Kidney Disease

Depending on the stage of kidney disease, your dietician may advise you to avoid certain foods including:

  • Meat – Beef, pork, poultry, fish
  • Eggs
  • Soybeans
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Dairy products
  • Certain fruits – oranges, cantaloupe, honeydew
  • Certain vegetables – tomatoes, potatoes, asparagus

Additional Chronic Kidney Disease Info


The symptoms of chronic kidney disease develop slowly over time as the kidney damage progresses. They include:

  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Decreased urine output
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Swelling in the feet and ankles


Diabetes mellitus, hypertension and glomerulonephritis are the most common causes of chronic kidney disease, accounting for about 75% of all cases in adults. Other causes include:


There is no cure for chronic kidney disease. The goal of therapy is to slow down the progression of the disease, treat the symptoms and the underlying cause, and manage any complications that may occur. The most common symptoms and complications include fluid retention, anemia, bone disease, and acidosis.

Your doctor can recommend dietician who specializes in nutrition for those with chronic kidney disease. Your dietician will be able to plan an appropriate diet for you based on the stage of your kidney disease and taking into account your preferences.


Submitted on June 12, 2012