A Diet For People With Kidney Problems

If you have a kidney problem, or you want to make sure you avoid having one in the future, you have to be careful about what’s in your diet.


The goal of this article is to provide information on a sensible diet for people with kidney problems – whether you currently have a kidney problem, or hope to avoid having one in the future.

The information contained in this article will also provide some useful guidelines if you cook for someone who has a form of kidney disease, kidney failure, or kidney stones.

Several factors play a role in your dietary decisions when you have kidney health challenges. Your food choices depend on a number of issues.


* Your current kidney health and level of kidney function.

* Your general health, especially any other diseases or disorders you may have.


* Your weight. When you’re obese, there’s greater strain on your kidneys.


There are five food categories that influence kidney health in a big way.

Amount of Sodium


Everyone needs a certain amount of sodium (salt) in their diet. In fact we couldn’t live without it because sodium influences some important metabolic functions. It helps us balance fluids, control our muscles, and maintain a healthy blood pressure.

But many people consume way too much of it, and it can be especially harmful to your kidneys.


Normal kidneys remove excess sodium from your body by filtering it out of your bloodstream. Kidneys that are not healthy, however, fail to do this. They allow sodium to begin accumulating.


When you have too much sodium, it causes fluids to build up, which results in bloating. This bloating often appears first in the face and joints.

If you have kidney problems, or want to make sure you never have them, reduce your consumption of the following foods:


*processed dinner mixes


*salted snacks, especially potato chips


*salted nuts


*processed foods like cold cuts




*soups that come from a can, a dehydrated package, or broth made with bouillon cubes

*canned vegetables




You should also try to avoid salting your food with a salt shaker at the dinner table.




The same advice applies to protein as to sodium. We need protein, but too much of it is bad for anyone with a kidney problem. A lot of protein in your diet can put stress on your kidneys because it creates too much metabolic waste for the kidneys to handle.

Meat and poultry products, including eggs, contain a lot of protein. Low protein foods include many kinds of grains and vegetables.




Potassium is important to nerve and muscle health. Too much potassium in your diet, however, can lead to an irregular heartbeat.

Almost all foods contain potassium. So if you’re concerned about your kidneys, you have to become aware of how much potassium is in your food choices.


Meanwhile some foods have high levels of potassium, so you should make sure to limit your consumption. Examples include collard, mushrooms, mustard, oranges, potatoes, prunes, raisins, salt substitute, tomatoes, apricots, bananas, beets and broccoli.



Phosphorus is similar to potassium in that it promotes healthy muscles and nerves. When combined with calcium, it also gives us strong bones and teeth.


Kidney problems will sometimes alter your phosphorus balances – and not in a good way. Calcium levels become lower, and your body compensates by robbing calcium from the bones.

But having too much phosphorus isn’t healthy either. It can cause skin irritation and itchiness, joint pain and brittle bones.


Here are some foods that contain a lot of phosphorus: peanut butter and many kinds of nuts, liver (both chicken and beef) cheese and caramel. Also be aware that certain drinks contain high phosphorus levels too, including beer and cola.



Filtering fluids is one of the most important things your kidneys do for you. Good fluid filtration can be a problem for someone with unhealthy kidneys. So watching your fluid intake is important.


When your fluid intake is excessive, you may experience swelling, shortness of breath and high blood pressure.


This is a subject that’s best discussed with your doctor.

And remember, some fluids are consumed as solids, but they become liquids once you’ve eaten them. Ice cream is one of the most popular of these kinds of foods.


Concluding Thoughts on a Diet for People with Kidney Problems


If you’re worried that you might have a kidney problem – now or in the future – it’s important to maintain a diet that’s good for your kidneys. As kidney function declines, kidney dialysis or even a kidney transplant become more and more of a possibility. By maintaining a diet designed for people with kidney problems today, you will reduce your chances of ever being faced with such choices in the future.

For more information on topics related to this article, click on Got a Kidney Problem? [http://www.kidney-problem.org/] and A Diet for People With Kidney Problems [http://www.kidney-problem.org/kidney-diet.html].


George McKenzie is a retired TV anchor, medical reporter and radio talk show host.


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