What is a Kidney Diet?


A kidney diet (also known as a renal diet) is one prescribed for people diagnosed with kidney disease. It is not a diet meant to help prevent kidney disease.

kidney dietFor someone with chronic kidney disease (CKD), it is important to be aware of the intake of certain foods, minerals and fluids. The kidney diet typically is lower in sodium, protein and phosphorus. In addition, some people with kidney disease may need to limit the fluids they consume and restrict their intake of potassium for better health.

If you have chronic kidney disease (CKD), your kidneys are not able to remove waste products and excess fluid from your body in the way that healthy kidneys do. Your diet can have a significant impact on your body's overall health and the progression of CKD, since certain foods can add to the accumulation of waste products and extra fluid in your blood. The kidney diet is a plan for eating that supports your kidney health.

If you have recently been diagnosed with CKD, a renal dietitian can help you determine which foods are best for you.

Typically, a kidney diet is:

  • Low in sodium
  • Low in protein
  • Low in phosphorus


Because high blood pressure can lead to kidney disease, it is recommended that you limit your sodium (salt) intake to help control your blood pressure. In addition, ingesting less sodium will help reduce the amount of fluid that your body retains.


Protein can help lower the blood sugar impact of meals and keep hunger pangs away, but when your kidneys are not healthy, eating too much protein can put a strain on them. A kidney-friendly diet limits the amount of protein you eat to help slow the progression of kidney disease.


Often people with kidney disease will have high levels of phosphorus; therefore, it is necessary to monitor the level of this mineral in your body and limit intake of high-phosphorus foods. Your health care provider may also prescribe a phosphorus binder. The phosphorus binder helps stop your body from absorbing phosphorus from food.

When your kidneys do not remove enough phosphorus from your blood, your bones may begin losing calcium. Taking a phosphorus binder and keeping phosphorus levels in a healthy range helps prevent bone disease by keeping calcium levels from declining.


If your kidneys are not functioning properly, your body may not be able to eliminate potassium as it should. That's why your health care provider will check the levels of potassium in your body on a regular basis to ensure that they are not too high. If levels of potassium in your blood rise above normal, you could experience harmful heart rhythms. In you're in the early stages of kidney disease or are on peritoneal dialysis, you may not need to limit the amount of potassium you consume.

Your doctor or renal dietitian will review your blood work with you and recommend your individual kidney diet based on your lab results.

Reprinted with permission from DaVita, Inc.

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Last Modified Date: February 15, 2013

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