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Diet in Kidney Failure – Dietary recommendations in renal patients – Diet for renal patients- dietary advice for kidney failure patients - diet in renal failure, Role of Diet in kidney failure


The kidneys are very important organ in the body. Their action is closely related to the Nervous system and Reproductive organs. They are as important to the water metabolism as the colon is to food. Just as wrong eating habits damage the stomach on G.I.Tract, improper intake of the liquids damage the kidneys and the urinary tract.

The kidneys are weakened by drinking either too much or too little water, by alcohol, by excessive sexual activity, by antibiotics and by not heeding the urge to urination. Fear and fright damage the kidneys on a psychological level. They are delicate in sensitive or traumatized children, or in anyone who has suffered stress to the adrenals.

Kidney damage due to Diabetes 

Uncontrolled diabetes is usually the major reason behind Kidney Failure. This is a condition called Diabetic Nephropathy. In this condition, the kidney is excreting more proteins, the Urea, Creatinine levels are high, the potassium levels are high and there is a risk of electrolyte imbalance. The toxins level is raised and therefore regular dialysis is required. Dialysis is nothing but filter the whole blood through machine.

There are many other reasons due to which the toxins accumulate and lodge themselves in the kidneys and urinary tract, particularly when the kidneys are not filtering the blood properly. Symptoms include lower back pain, sciatic pain, difficult or painful urination, urinary tract infections, swollen prostate or kidney stones.

One should follow proper diet to avoid further complications arising from the kidney disease. One should mainly lower the sodium, fluids and protein intake.

One should remember that Diabetes and Hypertension are the major cause of kidney disease. So, one should maintain normal glucose levels and normal blood pressure to maintain proper function of the kidneys.

Impaired Kidneys cannot easily remove salt, potassium and water, that’s why they should be consumed in limited quantities. It is not a threat; these are steps to eat the right amount of nutrients to remain healthy.

Lower sodium intake

Avoid intake of salt in your food. It can raise the blood pressure, risk of heart failure and pulmonary edema and so sodium intake should necessarily be lowered. Have a very low salt diet. Avoid processed foods or canned foods, pickles, cheese etc that are high in salt content. Also avoid potato chips, pizza and any kind of packaged food. It is always preferable to have homemade food. 

Lower potassium intake

Some people with kidney disease need to lower their potassium intake. It is found naturally in many fruits and vegetables. In poor function of the kidneys, it fails to remove the excess potassium from the blood. A high level in potassium can cause muscle weakness and affect the Heart rhythm. Foods rich in potassium are salt substitutes, bananas and apricots. However salt substitutes are not advisable, because it will further aggravate the disease.

Foods rich in potassium are

Wheat germ, Sunflower seed, Almond, Raisin, Parsley, Lettuce, Radish, Cabbage, Dandelion root, Bananas, Water melon, Citrus fruits, Mushrooms, Greens, Spinach, Cucumber, Dried figs, Apricots, Dates, Wheat bran, Soybean, Avocado, Garlic, Tomato, Peas, Beans, Celery root

Alfalfa seeds, raw (1 cup)

33 g

Apple (1)

138 g

Apricot, raw (1)

35 g

Asparagus , cooked, boiled (4 spears)

60 g

Banana (1)

118 g

Beans, baked (1 cup)

254 g

Cabbage, raw (1 cup)

70 g

Celery (1 stalk )

40 g

Cheese (1 tbsp)

14.5 g

Cucumber, peeled, raw(1 cup)

119 g

Dates (5)

41.5 g

Dandelion, boiled (1 cup)

105 g

Garlic, 1 clove

3 g

Lettuce, 1 leaf

10 g

Parsley , 10 sprigs

10 g

Radish (1)

4.5 g

Raisins (1 cup)

145 g

Peas , boiled (1 cup)

160 g

Spinach, raw (1 cup)

30 g

Soy beans, cooked ( 1 cup)

172 g

Tomatoes (1)

123 g

Watermelon (1 cup)

152 g

Wheat flour (1 cup)

120 g

Lower liquid intake

Do not have water or fluid content more than 1.5 Liters per day. 
Replace it with vegetables that has high water content like snake gourd, radish, spinach etc. even they come under fluid intake. But they are nutritious. Instead of merely drinking water, this can be taken. Also one can have tender coconut water (if they are not diabetic) and even buttermilk. All this should come under one and half litre per day. Have warm water instead of plain water.

Limit protein intake

Protein is very essential to sustain energy levels in the body. A healthy kidney separates protein from the wastes and excretes the wastes from the blood. While an impaired kidney also excretes the protein and causes protein loss. That’s why Doctors suggest limiting protein intake to avoid much pressure on the kidneys. Also complete elimination is not advisable. Hence limited protein intake can balance the functions of the kidneys. Choose high quality protein like chicken, lean meat, fish, eggs etc. have 160 to 190 Gms of protein per day. The quantity depends upon level of blood urea and creatinine. Usually 40-50 gm of protein intake is recommended per day.

Milk (half L)

18 g

Yogurt (1 cup)

7 g

Meat (200 g)

50 g

Beans baked (1 cup)

254 g

Egg (1)

8 g

Soya milk (200ml)

6 g

Fish (100 g )

21 g

Cheese (100 g )

25 g

Roast chicken (100 g )

25 g

Roast beef (100 g )

25 g

Cabbage cooked (1 cup)

150 g

Cabbage raw (1 cup)

70 g

Ripe tomatoes (1 cup)

180 g

Lower cholesterol intake

Intake of high fat substances or fried food items may increase the levels of cholesterol. Even if it is home-made it is not advisable to have high fat food. Increase in cholesterol level in blood can cause kidney damage or failure. Use vegetable oils like safflower oil, olive oil for cooking which are the safest and healthiest choices.

Avoid smoking

Smoking can complicate the disease further. It has been found that it causes heart attacks and sometimes even death of a person suffering from Chronic Kidney Disease.

Limit phosphorous intake

Avoid intake of dairy products such as cheese, butter, ice creams etc. Avoid beverages like cola, alcohol etc. avoid nuts, peas and beans. Foods that are high in phosphorous are milk, cheese, nuts and cola drinks. Too much of phosphorous will remove calcium from bones and affect the bones and may lead to osteoporosis.

Diabetic nephropathy

Diabetes mellitus affects the structure and function of the Kidney in many ways. The term diabetic nephropathy encompasses all the lesions occurring in the kidneys of patients with diabetes mellitus. These lesions include glomerulo-sclerosis, arterionephro-sclerosis, chronic interstitial nephritis, papillary necrosis and various tubular lesions.

Diabetic nephropathy is associated with a variety of clinical syndromes including mild asymptomatic proteinuria, nephritic syndrome, progressive renal failure and hypertension. Glomerulo lesions are particularly common and account for the majority of the abnormal clinical findings related to the kidney.

The principal clinical manifestation of diabetic glomerular disease is proteinuria. Initially only small amounts of albumin are excreted, particularly following exercise (microalbuminuria). This amount of albumin excretion is undetectable by routine screening methods. Under ordinary circumstances, microalbuminuria develops within 10 to 15 years of the onset of hyperglycemia and usually progresses within 3 to 7 years to overt proteinuria and clinical diabetic nephropathy.

With good control of hyperglycemia and elevated blood pressure, the development of microalbuminuria can be prevented or reversed. Patients with non-insulin-dependant diabetes mellitus also may develop clinical nephropathy. Precise regulation of blood sugar (by meticulous attention to diet, exercise, and insulin dosage) may be effective in reducing the development of nephropathy. During the micro-albuminuric phase, tight metabolic control slows the rate of increase in albumin excretion, as does lowering the arterial blood pressure and dietary protein restriction. Once the nephropathy has reached the stage of overt proteinuria, aggressive management of hypertension will slow the rate of loss of renal function, but strict control of blood sugar does not seem to retard the rate of progression once overt nephropathy (proteinuria > 500mg/d) has emerged.

Patient with ESRF (End stage renal failure) due to diabetic nephropathy are not ideal candidates for long term dialysis because of concomitant multiple organ dysfunction secondary to arterio-vascular disease.

An early sign of kidney damage is when your kidneys leak small amounts of a protein called micro albumin into the urine.

With severe damage; the kidney excretes more amount of protein called proteinuria. More wastes build up in the blood. This damage gets worse until the kidneys fail.

Prevention of Kidney disease in diabetes

  • Keep your blood sugar and blood pressure under control. Also maintain normal cholesterol levels. Check it every 3 to 6 months.
  • Exercise or have a brisk walk regularly. For diabetic patients, it is more advisable to walk in the evening around 45 minutes.
  • Always have a healthy and balanced diet. Have low salt diet. Avoid eating outside, because the ones prepared outside, sometimes add soda to cook soon or it may be unhygienic and the oil used may not be suitable for you. So, always prefer home-made food. 
  • Have a low-salt, low-protein, low-fat and high fruit and vegetable diet.
  • Have at least two to three cups of boiled or steamed vegetables per day.
  • Eat fiber rich foods like whole grain bread and cereals. Eat frequent small meals.
  • Avoid processed foods like sauces, pickles etc.
  • Check the labels for added salt. Drink warm and filtered water.
  • Avoid food made by using baking powder like cakes, biscuits etc.
  • Avoid legumes, milk and dairy products, mainly cheese. Use skimmed milk in the place of whole cream milk.  Limit the intake of fish and meat.
  • Have your kidneys tested at least once in a year.
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol.
  • Avoid junk foods and high fat intake.
  • Avoid suppression of natural urges.
  • Maintain proper weight according to your age and height. low-fat diet and regular exercise also will lower your risk of heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease
  • Avoid drugs such as NSAID’s (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).


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