How can diet help keep your kidneys healthy?


If you have kidney disease, a few lifestyle changes will make you feel better and keep you healthy.

The food you eat can impact your kidneys. Cut back on foods high in salt and protein. Some people also need to limit their intake of minerals like potassium. Your doctor may also tell you to cut back on your fluid intake.

Shifting to a kidney-friendly diet may require some change. Some people choose to try diet plans, such as the DASH diet. Others take a plant-based approach. Whatever you decide, your doctor can advise you about foods that won’t harm your kidneys.

Why adjust your diet?

If you have kidney disease, your kidneys aren’t working as they should. Kidneys make sure you have the right balance of nutrients in your body. If they aren’t working well, this balance is thrown off. And, could lead to other problems.

A good diet may slow down kidney disease. Healthy foods help you keep your energy level up during the day. They also help you keep a healthy weight, prevent infections, and avoid losing muscle mass.

Living with kidney disease means keeping track of certain nutrients in your diet, including:

  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Protein
  • Sodium (salt)



This keeps your kidneys from having to work extra hard to remove waste from your blood.

What are popular diets for kidney disease?

There’s no single diet plan for people with kidney disease. However, some people try diets because of their health benefits. Keep in mind that these diets are not for people with advanced kidney disease or who are on dialysis. Always check with your doctor before starting a new diet.

DASH diet

DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) was created to help people with high blood pressure. People with kidney disease also benefit from DASH.

In general, the low-sodium DASH diet features a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish, beans, seeds, nuts, and low-fat dairy products. The diet limits red meat, fats, and products containing sugar.

Plant-based diets

Limiting animal protein may slow down kidney disease. Many people try a plant-based diet that includes whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.

Studies show a plant-based diet can help stop kidney disease from getting worse. This diet may also help lower your blood pressure, reduce your risk for diabetes, and improve your overall health.

What should you eat if you have advanced kidney disease?

As kidney disease progresses, you might need to limit certain minerals in your diet. This is because your kidneys can’t filter out waste.


You should limit phosphorus in your diet if you have advanced kidney disease. If you have too much of it, your bones, eyes, lungs, and heart may all be affected.

High levels are found in fast food, canned or bottled drinks, processed foods, and ready-to-eat meals. Instead of these products, try a diet of whole foods that includes healthy proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables, and certain dairy products.


Potassium helps your heart and muscles stay healthy. If you have advanced kidney disease, potassium may build up in your body. This may cause health issues down the line.

A low-potassium diet can help prevent more kidney damage. Foods to eat include things like apples, grapes, oranges, beans, broccoli, eggplant, peppers, rice, pasta, and some breads.

What should you eat if you’re on dialysis?

When starting dialysis, you’ll probably need to adjust your diet. You’ll need to limit how much fluid you drink every day, as well as cut back on foods with high concentrations of salt, potassium, and phosphorus.

During dialysis, you may need to eat foods high in protein to help you stay healthy. Doctors usually recommend eating 8 to 10 ounces of high quality protein every day.

Ask your care team for a list of foods you should avoid. It will help you feel better and prevent complications.

How can you get help with your diet?

Making changes to your diet can be overwhelming, especially at first. Your doctor can connect you with a dietician to help you stay healthy.

Your dietician can give you healthy recipes, cooking techniques, and food substitutions that make living with kidney disease a little easier.