diet and nutrition
overview and introduction
eating well, living well
Eating a good diet and getting enough exercise are important for every person's physical health and well-being, but they are even more important for people who need to actively monitor their kidney health.
When your kidneys are functioning normally they help you regulate the nutrients and minerals flowing through your body. But if you have kidney disease, your kidneys are usually not performing this job well enough. To make sure you get the right balance of protein, calories, vitamins, and minerals - and to help limit the build-up of waste in your blood stream - your health care provider will almost certainly recommend you take great care in planning your diet.
How you manage your diet will depend on many factors. Patients who are on dialysis, for instance, can have very different nutritional needs from someone who is in the early stages of chronic kidney disease. Additional health and medical conditions (diabetes, high blood pressure, weight, etc.) can affect meal planning further.
For many patients looking to take control of their nutrition, it can be useful to work with a dietitian. Dietitians will help you plan your meals; identify food that is easy on your kidneys; and build individualized eating plans that address your specific health concerns, and make eating an enjoyable and nutritious experience.
applications, cookbooks and community
For many patients battling kidney disease, managing the particulars of a kidney-friendly diet can be challenging. If you ever need a hand eating healthy, or are looking for some nutritional guidance, consider referencing the following apps, cookbooks, and online culinary resources.
Apps for Patients
My Food Coach: My Food Coach is an interactive mobile application designed to help you understand and manage all of your nutritional requirements. The app allows you to personalize settings for you and your family, and gives you quick answers about what food is right for you.
Available online, in the iTunes Store, and on Google Play.
H2Overload: Designed for people who need to limit their fluid intake, especially people with hyponatremia, kidney failure, or heart disease. Track your daily fluid intake, weight and blood pressure - you can even send a report to your healthcare provider or caretaker through the app!
Available in the iTunes Store.
Kidney Diets: Online References
Many health care experts encourage patients battling kidney disease, diabetes, and/or hypertension to consider the following diets:
A Plant-Based Diet: Studies show that eating whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables is one of the most important ways to keep kidneys healthy.
DASH Diet: This diet helps decrease blood pressure, lowers the risk for heart disease, stroke and cancer, and reduces the risk of kidney stone formation.
CRN Pocket Guide
This app from the National Kidney Foundation provides concentrated information that clinicians use on a regular basis and offers shortcuts to calculations for commonly used formulas and easy-to-find CKD nutrition information.
Available online, in the iTunes Store, and on Google Play.
Everyday Eating Cookbook
The Everyday Eating Cookbook is presented by the Illinois Council on Renal Nutrition (ICRN). It is a unique, valuable kidney-health focused cookbook that offers:
Nutrient analysis for renal patients
Easy to make recipes that EVERYONE will enjoy
Exciting options for holiday menus and kids' cuisine
Tasty substitutions for each recipe
To order this TOTALLY FREE cookbook simply fill out the form below, and send it to Community Health Manager, Regina White at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions? Please call Regina at (312) 321 - 1500.
diet & kidney disease
get started learning about eating with kidney disease
If you have kidney disease, your doctor will likely advise you to be more aware of the protein, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and calcium in your diet. If you are in the early stages of CKD, there may be few, if any, limits on what you can eat. But as CKD progresses, you’ll have to be more careful about what you put into your body. For example: people with kidney failure who are on dialysis will have very different dietary needs than someone with stage 2 or 3 kidney disease.
It is important to remember that each patient's dietary needs are unique - they're based on the stage of your kidney disease, other medical conditions, medications, weight, and overall health. Ask your doctor about meeting with a Registered Dietitian with special training in kidney disease. A dietitian can teach you to make the best food choices based on your lab tests and personal lifestyle.
For more information on kidney disease and nutrition, please explore the following articles from our national office's Kidney A - Z Health Guide.
diet & dialysis
learn how to eat well on dialysis
A well constructed meal plan can play a big role in your dialysis treatment. Some pieces of a dialysis diet will carry over from the earlier stages of kidney disease (lower salt, potassium and phosphorus), but there are two key nutritional differences to monitor once you begin dialysis treatments: proteins and fluids.
Proteins. Dialysis patients lose protein during treatment, which means they need to compensate by incorporating more protein into their meals. Protein can help maintain blood protein levels and improve health. Many doctors recommend you eat a high protein food (meat, fish, poultry, fresh pork, eggs, etc.) at every meal, or about 8 - 10 ounces of high protein foods everyday.
Fluids. Limiting fluids will help you feel better and stay healthier. Once you’re on dialysis, you may urinate very little - or not at all. Any extra fluid must be removed by dialysis, and consuming too much fluid may cause buildup between dialysis sessions, which may result in: headaches; swelling in your face, hands and feet (edema); trouble breathing; high blood pressure/stroke risk; heart damage (from stretching your heart with too much fluid).
Fluids are typically limited on a dialysis diet, but the exact amount you should have each day may depend on your health and the type of dialysis you’re on. People on at-home peritoneal dialysis may have fewer fluid restrictions, while people on in-center hemodialysis generally have greater limitations to their fluid intake. Talk to your doctor or dietitian about how to manage your fluids and feel your best.
For more information on dialysis and nutrition, please explore the following articles from our national office's Kidney A - Z Health Guide.
diet & kidney transplants
explore how your diet changes after receiving a transplant
After a kidney transplant, your diet will still be an important part of maintaining your overall health, but managing your diet may be easier than it was when you were battling kidney disease and/or when you were on dialysis.
Use the following list of facts to begin learning about the role nutrition can play post-transplant, and find answers to some questions common to patients managing life with a new kidney.
kidneys in the kitchen
shop healthy, eat healthy
Kidneys in the Kitchen is a monthly series broadcast on CanTV. Join us each month as the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois and a renal dietitian introduce you to new, healthy recipes, and offer tips and tricks for making smarter purchasing decisions at the grocery store.
Each installment of Kidneys in the Kitchen focuses on a different aspect of meal-planning and nutrition. But whether we're talking about snacks, seasonal produce, or well-balanced holiday feast, we'll always be focusing on helping you learn how to prepare healthy, delicious dishes.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel to catch every episode.
For more information please contact Foundation Dietitian Melissa Prest at email@example.com or (312) 321-1500.
NKFI kidney health resources
The information shared on this website has been reviewed by staff at the New York City headquarters of the National Kidney Foundation. Please note: material contained here are intended solely for reference. This material does not constitute medical advice; it is intended for informational purposes only. If you feel you need professional medical care, please consult a physician for specific treatment recommendations.