Renal Nutrition

Controlling the amount of sodium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, and fluid that you ingest is important when you are on kidney dialysis.  Talk to your doctor, nurse, or dietitian about which diet is best for you.




Reducing sodium in your diet helps you control high blood pressure. It also keeps you from being thirsty, and prevents your body from holding onto extra fluid.

Avoid salty foods such as salted popcorn, potato chips, salted pretzels, processed cheese, bacon and other cured meats. Checking the ingredients list on processed, frozen, and canned foods is a good way to see how much sodium the product contains. Canned soups are often high in sodium, but there are low-sodium soups available.




Too much potassium can build up when the kidneys no longer function well. Dangerous heart rhythms may result, which can lead to death.

Oranges, broccoli, tomatoes, potatoes, and carrots are all high in potassium. Apples, blueberries, grapes, strawberries, lettuce, and onions are all relatively low in potassium. Canned vegetables and the juices they are usually canned are particularly high in potassium.

Fruits choose peaches, grapes, pears, cherries, apples, berries, pineapple, plums, tangerines, and watermelon.  Limit or avoid oranges and orange juice, nectarines, Kiwis, raisins or other dried fruit, bananas, cantaloupe, honeydew, prunes, and nectarines.

Vegetables choose broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, eggplant, green and wax beans, lettuce, onion, peppers, watercress, zucchini, and yellow squash.  Limit or avoid asparagus, avocado, potatoes, tomatoes or tomato sauce, winter squash, pumpkin, and cooked spinach.




Even in the early stages of chronic kidney disease, phosphorous levels in the blood can get too high. This can cause low calcium which causes the body to pull calcium from your bones and can make your bones weaker and more likely to break.  It can also cause itching, heart problems, joint pain or skin ulcers.

Avoid foods high in phosphorus, such as beer, soda, cheese, milk, yogurt, oysters, beans, peas, nuts, and many whole grain products.

Dairy foods lower in phosphorous, include tub margarine, butter, cream cheese, heavy cream, ricotta cheese, brie cheese, sherbet, and nondairy whipped toppings.




Once you start dialysis, you will need to eat more protein. A high-protein diet with fish, poultry, pork, or eggs at every meal may be recommended. This will help you replace muscles and other tissues that you lose.

Because the kidneys are no longer doing a good job of removing urea, patients experiencing kidney failure must be careful about the amount and type of protein they consume. If too much urea builds up in the body it can cause serious illness.

Patients must be sure to get enough protein though, because without protein the body is not able to perform proper muscle maintenance.


Fluid Intake


When you are on dialysis, you will need to watch the amount of liquid you take in.  In between dialysis sessions, fluid can build up in the body. Too much fluid will lead to shortness of breath, an emergency that needs immediate medical attention.

The most recommended method for preventing water retention is to monitor your salt intake.

Do not eat too much of foods that contain a lot of water, such as soups, Jell-O, Popsicles, ice cream, grapes, melons, lettuce, tomatoes, and celery.




People with advanced kidney failure also have anemia and usually need extra iron.

Many foods contain extra iron (liver, beef, pork, chicken, lima and kidney beans, iron-fortified cereals). Talk to your doctor, nurse, or dietitian about which foods with iron you can eat because of your kidney disease.

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