Understanding the Basics of the Renal Diet

The renal diet is important. Upon receiving a diagnosis for chronic kidney disease, you must immediately change your diet to protect your remaining kidney function. You can start following a specialized diet to keep your kidneys from suffering ongoing damage from harmful dietary substances. Continued deterioration of your kidneys could cause full renal failure, resulting in the need for dialysis and organ transplant.

A quality renal diet plan reduces stress on your kidneys to allow them to continue their function of properly filtering and removing waste products from your blood stream. When in good health, your kidneys also produce vital hormones that promote bone and cardiovascular health. Alter your diet in the following ways to protect your kidneys and slow the progression of this disease.

Limited Substances

Removing substances that your kidneys struggle to process can reduce stress on these organs and promote healing over time. Potassium, phosphorus, protein and sodium are the four most important substances to limit while following a renal diet.


Declining kidney function allows potassium from food to build up in your bloodstream. High levels of potassium throw off the electrolytes that keep your cardiovascular system in good health. You have to eliminate high-potassium foods, such as bananas, avocados and potatoes, from your rental diet to protect your kidneys and heart from failing.


Your kidneys naturally regulate the amount of phosphorus traveling through your blood to your bones. When your kidneys start to fail, phosphorus builds up and leaches calcium from your bones, which can lead to fractures. The extracted calcium deposits accumulates in the adjacent organs, causing damage in sensitive structures, such as your eyes and lungs. Most of your phosphorus comes from meat, cheese, milk and canned fish, so limit these foods and replace them with fresh produce when you can.


Beyond phosphorus, meat contains an immense amount of protein that can also tax your ailing kidneys. The amount of protein you should consume directly correlates with your current stage of renal failure. Your doctor will likely give you a figure that can help you plan your protein intake. Watch out for plant sources of protein as well, such as beans, nuts and seeds.


You should dramatically decrease your sodium intake to keep your body from retaining fluids. If you keep consuming sodium at a normal rate, this substance will usually build up in your kidneys, causing additional damage to your renal system. Decreasing your salt intake can also help keep your water intake at the suggested level.

Hydration Levels

When your kidney function is compromised, the organs’ ability to process and remove excess fluid decreases. As a result, you may need to lower the amount of water you drink daily to about 3 liters, depending on your size and condition, to prevent your body from accumulating excess fluid. If you consume too much water or other liquids, you might notice swelling and difficulty breathing. Your blood pressure could also shoot into the high range within a short period of time. Make sure to account for all of the fluid you consume throughout the day, including milk, broth and ice cubes.

A machine for dispensing big bottles of bottled water. With both a hot and cold dispenser.Paying very close attention to hydration levels is important

Creating a Renal Diet Meal Plan

To easily stick to your renal diet, track your food intake ahead of time using a website or app. Dietary tracking programs calculate the vitamins, minerals and sodium in your food, so you can make sure you are consuming the right mix of nutrients for optimal kidney health. The tracking programs also usually have a place to track your water intake to ensure your hydration remains at an ideal level. Your doctor can look at your rental diet plan to verify that you are meeting the appropriate nutrient metrics for your current health status.

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› Renal Diet
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