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Food in Chronic Kidney Disease

It is very important to learn about nutrition and food in chronic kidney disease. It is even more important to know the best healthy choices, what not to eat, and learn more details about salt (sodium), potassium, phosphorus, fluids, and protein. This knowledge and better awareness will help slow the progression of your chronic kidney disease, help keep you out of the hospital, and help improve your outcomes. For more helpful information about what to expect along your journey with chronic kidney disease, visit our page: “5 Helpful Things to know if you have Failing Kidneys”

It’s very important to learn to eat healthy, balanced meals and eat well to help prevent the risk of diabetes and hypertension which are the leading causes of chronic kidney disease (CKD). good habits last a lifetime and it is therefore you’re very important to eat well with your family and teach your children to eat well to help protect their future from chronic kidney disease. At the end of this page, there is a very short video by Dr. Mike Evans that digresses from food in chronic kidney disease but leaves a very important foundation for your family moving forward to help ensure that your children are less likely to suffer from chronic kidney disease in the future. Please take a few minutes to watch it after you have finished reading below.

Food in Chronic Kidney Disease
Food is Important to Your Kidneys

Slow the Progression of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) at All Stages: The Importance of Food in Chronic Kidney Disease.

Salt: Sodium

There is one simple step that can help to slow the progression or rate of worsening of chronic kidney disease at any stage 1 through 5, regardless of the cause of the CKD and it highlights the importance of food in chronic kidney disease. That one thing is salt or more specifically its component sodium that is literally found in every food in chronic kidney disease and every food in the world period!

I promise you this is bite of information is short and sweet: Limit the salt intake! Decreasing your salt intake will slow the rate of worsening of kidney disease! It is one simple intervention that will do a world of good to your body and your life so that you can be well and enjoy the things you love. Aim for a daily sodium intake of no more than 2000 to 2300 milligrams per day. That is, a total of no more than one teaspoon of table salt.

There are rather creative ways to make your food tasty that involves use of condiments and other seasonings and the use of seasoning mixes. For example, 1/4 teaspoon of table salt contains approximately 500 milligrams of sodium but 1/4 teaspoon of your favorite seasoning mix may contain only 270 milligrams of sodium for example Lawry’s garlic salt with parsley.

The good news is that your taste buds will readjust after approximately 10 to 14 days so you literally won’t notice the difference with your food after a while. Your kidneys will thank you.

Salt and Kidney Health Poster
Your Taste Buds will forgive you and your kidneys will love you!

Food in chronic kidney disease: Slow the progression of Advanced Chronic Kidney Disease and Help Prevent The Complications of Chronic Kidney Disease!

In advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD), your kidneys are not capable of performing their functions normally. Therefore it is very important to know the the make-up of your food in chronic kidney disease and crucial to learn about salt (or sodium), potassium, phosphorus and water.

When you have failing kidneys, your body becomes more sensitive to sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and water because your kidneys are not able to balance nor eliminate these from your body as the normally would. Sodium, potassium, and phosphorus are present in foods in varying quantities depending on the food you eat. Therefore, if you consume foods that have very high amounts and your kidneys cannot get rid of the high amounts (because the kidneys are failing), then they will remain in your body and cause harmful effects. You must therefore be very careful in reading food labels and adjusting your portion sizes to ensure that you do not exceed the amount recommended by your doctor.

It is very important to speak with your doctor about the amounts that you are allowed to eat.

Sample Case of Food in Chronic Kidney Disease

For example, in a person with chronic kidney disease stage five (5), the managing nephrologist (kidney doctor) may give dietary instructions you to limit intake as follows:

  • Sodium: 2000mg or 2g per day
  • Potassium 2000mg or 2g per day
  • Phosphorus 1000mg or 1 g per day
  • Fluid: 2000ml or 2 Liters per day
  • Protein: 0.8g per kg per day: For example if you weigh 80kg (176 pounds): your maximum protein intake should be 64 grams for the day


Sodium: 2000 milligrams per day which is about one teaspoon of salt in total for the entire day, but this does not mean added salt it means total salt. Therefore, if you had two slices of Turkey bacon for breakfast that already accounts for 750 milligrams of sodium depending on the brand. Therefore, to comply with the dietary instructions, you need to limit what you have for the remainder of that 24 hour. Visit our page on food choices in advanced chronic kidney disease, what to expect, Add additional resources.


Potassium: 2000 milligrams per day. You must be very judicious and careful with this one. For example, the typical nutrition fact label caters to the normal population that has normal kidneys and so it might tell you that a particular food has 10% of the recommended daily allowance. Do not be misled by this: Please note that 10% for a normal person is 500 milligrams (which means the person with normal kidneys is allowed 5000 milligrams per day, not 2000 milligrams). that 10% on the nutrition label does not equal 10% for you if you have failing kidneys as your threshold is lower.


Phosphorus: 1000 milligrams per day. Phosphorus is even more challenging because nutrition fact labels do not list phosphorus and therefore you have to be somewhat of a detective, understand that many processed foods have phosphate containing compounds as food stabilizers, and that you therefore have to rely on other sources of information for phosphorus content. In addition to this, you must trying your best to prepare your own foods at home from fresh ingredients and avoid fast foods, dark colas and avoid processed foods.


If you have failing kidneys, it is also very important to understand that your kidneys will not be able to eliminate the excess fluid you drink. That excess fluid will therefore accumulate in your body as fluid in your lungs called pulmonary edema, a swelling of the legs called peripheral edema and can even cause a swelling of the scrotum in men, swelling around the eyes, swelling of the hands and swelling of the abdomen.

Embedded in the 5 Helpful Things to know if you have failing kidneys, is that, in advanced chronic kidney disease: especially in stage 5, your doctor may need to adjust some of your medications called diuretics to help deal with excessive fluid. However, it is very important to observe the dietary advice of restricting your fluid intake and also restricting your salt intake. Restricting your salt intake is very important regarding fluids because salt attracts fluid/water and therefore causes you to retain more fluid while increasing the blood pressure which is already more difficult to control in advanced CKD. Salt also decreases the effectiveness of the diuretics (or water pills) that help to eliminate the fluid.


Protein is a very special topic regarding failing kidneys. It is very important because the recommended protein intake is very different when your kidneys are failing compared to when they have entirely failed and require dialysis. In chronic kidney disease our goal as nephrologists is to slow the progression of that kidney disease as best as possible. One method used is to limit the intake of protein, especially animal-based protein, to a total of 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight as this helps to reduce hyperfiltration in the kidneys and hence decreases decline in the GFR.

Especially in advanced chronic kidney disease, that is, CKD stages 4 and 5: in addition to slowing the worsening of the kidney disease (by limiting hyperfiltration), the additional benefits of limiting protein and choosing plant-based protein are that:

  • Gram for gram, plant-based protein contains less phosphorus than animal protein
  • Less production of urea (a waste product) and
  • Helps control metabolic acidosis.

Metabolic acidosis is another significant consequence of kidney failure and as you recall from above, high phosphorus intake is also a significant problem in advanced chronic kidney disease.

In conclusion it is therefore recommended that you limit the amount of protein intake to the aforementioned proportions and also limit the type of protein to plant-based as best as possible.

An important note: In end stage renal disease (ESRD) when dialysis is the needed, your body loses more protein and so, for people on dialysis, the recommended protein intake is different and is higher at 1.2 grams per kilogram per day. You must talk to your doctor regarding your unique case, condition, and requirements.

It is therefore recommended that you limit the amount of protein intake to the aforementioned proportions and also limit the type of protein because plant-based proteins help to protect your kidneys from worsening more than animal-based protein and also plant based proteins tend to generate less harmful waste.

Food in Chronic Kidney Disease
A Vegetarian Diet can Help Slow The Progression of CKD

Food in Chronic Kidney Disease: Help Secure Your Children’s Future: Help Prevent CKD By Teaching Them To eat Well Now!

Start healthy habits to eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Limit processed foods, salty foods. Microwave dinners, and fast foods. Know, your fruits and veggies with respect to medicinal properties and other unique properties. For example, consuming large amounts of star fruit can result in kidney stones- a very important topic regarding food in chronic kidney disease.

Dr. Mike Evans Teaches this well! Check out his very helpful video and subscribe to his channel for more engaging tips on learning how to live better, healthier lives.

Our kidney art and posters, including the ones on this “Food in Chronic Kidney Disease” page are all produced in collaboration with Happy Ingenuity Solutions with the goal of increasing awareness of kidney disease, protecting kidneys, and increasing access to helpful information that promotes good health. You can share digital copies for free and if you want to purchase the related wall art, posters and other related accessories, you will help fund our cause to fight kidney disease through education and increasing awareness. Click here to buy our kidney art, other kidney health posters and other beautiful kidney art!

The content on this webpage and this website is for information to help you understand kidney disease in a way that increases your awareness and helps empower you to make healthy choices. The information on this page is not medical advice and does not replace your doctor’s or medical provider’s expertise nor opinion. You must discuss all aspects of your treatment with your medical provider and follow their advice as your doctor and healthcare team possess the necessary details of your unique condition. 

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