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Live long with Kidney disease; Know what food can CKD patients eat!

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

Lucknow: People put on strict diet plan due to medical conditions often face problem when it comes to eat right. They fail to understand what they are allowed to eat or what has been removed from their diet plan by their doctor. Patients with kidney disease face a lot of difficulty as they are told to cut down on potassium, phosphorus, sodium, protein, fluids, fat and sugar and starch, hence, striking out a large number of food items from their diet plan.

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To stay healthy and and live long, kidney patients need to have a kidney-friendly meal plan especially when they have chronic kidney disease (CKD). Today we, at PardaPhash will give you a basic guide that can help you to monitor your diet plan with kidney related problems but we also recommend you to consult your doctor or a renal dietitian, who understand your nutrient requirement as per your  condition.

First of all, you need to understand that with declining renal function, our kidneys fail to filter blood properly, which in turn results in build-up of waste products and certain minerals that could further harm our kidney or could contribute to other serious ailments or damage other organs. So, you need to take your diet seriously and always look for the ingredient or nutritional value of the food.

NO to BPA, GMOs and Canned foods

BPA: First thing first, avoid giving kidney patients anything from plastic packaging, or aluminum foils as they are lined with bisphenol A (BPA). BPA is eliminated by the kidney, and has been linked with high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. With reduced kidney function it can disrupt blood levels. To avoid BPA from getting into your body use glass jars or shelf safe cartons which don’t have BPA.

GMO: Try to avoid giving kidney patients Genetically modified (GMO) grains instead opt out for organic foods that don’t have the pesticides that standard foods may have.

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Canned Food: Due to the amount of preservatives and sodium found in canned goods, it’s often recommended that people with kidney disease should avoid it all together, as their kidney won’t be able to wash out the harmful preservatives from the body and high sodium can further damage it by altering blood pressure levels.

Restrict fluids intake

We all grew up listening water is good for our kidney and we should drink plenty of water, but when you have kidney disease, you may need to restrict the intake of this miraculous nectar on earth. Damaged kidneys can not get rid of extra fluid, thus causing high blood pressure, swelling and even heart failure. Extra fluid can also build up around your lungs, making it hard to breathe.

Depending on your stage of kidney disease, your doctor may tell you to limit fluid intake. If are consulting a doctor regarding your condition he might have told you on how much you can drink and might have advised you to cut back on some foods that contain a lot of water. Limiting your sodium can help you here as it help cut down on thirst. If you feel thirsty just take small sips to help quench your thirst, also watch your diet as you might be getting fluids from there too. Milk, tea, coffee, etc. all should be taken into account when counting your fluid intake.

Sodium needs to be minimum

Sodium is found in our house salt/ sodium chloride. We use salt to enhance the taste of our food, however, it does more than making our food tastier. Salt is the main source of sodium and chloride ions and is essential for nerve and muscle function in humans. It also regulates fluids in the our body and plays a crucial role to control our blood pressure and volume. However, sodium could have adverse effects on patients with kidney conditions. As kidney patients are advised to restrict their fluid intake, sodium could make them thirsty, which can lead to swelling and raise in their blood pressure. It can also damage their kidneys further and their heart work harder.

Take salt off from your table and limit sodium in your meal plan:

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  • Only added permitted quantity of salt in your food, as advised by your renal doctor. Try cooking with fresh herbs, lemon juice or other salt-free spices.
  • Avoid canned and processed foods as they contain excessed salt.
  • Don’t binge on pre-packed snacks instead make one by yourself monitoring all the permitted foods and their quantity.
  • Avoid pickles, condiments like soy sauce, BBQ sauce and ketchup.
  • Never ever go for Sodium LITE or low sodium salt or other substitutes for salt as are high in potassium, which can cause heart problems.

Limit Potassium in diet

Potassium is a mineral which is found in almost all foods you eat. It helps your muscles work, and keep your heartbeat regular but too much potassium can be fatal, resulting in heart attack. Potassium levels are maintained by your kidneys but when they are not working well, your potassium level can reach a dangerous level. Having too much or too little potassium can cause muscle cramps, problems with the way your heart beats and muscle weakness. With high level of Potassium in your diet, you may feel some weakness, numbness and tingling, but if it reaches dangerous levels, it can cause an irregular heartbeat or a heart attack.

So only eat food items that are suggested by your renal dietitian and learn how to safely eat small amounts of your foods that are high in potassium. First, limit foods that are high in potassium, second leach your veggies, lentils, fruits before using.

Always leach your food

Always leach your food as it pulls Potassium out of your food. It is important to remember that leaching will not pull all of the potassium out of the vegetable, fruits and lentils but could still limit the amount of Potassium in high-potassium food items. Ask your renal dietitian about the amount of leached vegetables that you can safely have in your diet.

How to leach

  • First peel and slice the fruits, vegetable then rinse them in warm water for a few seconds.
  • Now soak the batch for 45 to 2 hours in warm water.
  • Use ten times the amount of water to the amount of vegetables.
  • If soaking longer, change the water every four hours.
  • Rinse under warm water again for a few seconds.

The size of serving is also very important. A large amount of a low potassium food can turn into a high- potassium food, if you keep your serving portion large.

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Have a glance on recommended safe level of potassium in blood:

If Potassium level is between 3.5-5.0———————You are in the SAFE zone.
If Potassium level is between 5.1-6.0———————You are in the CAUTION zone.
If If Potassium level is higher than 6.0——————-You are in the DANGER zone.

Please use this as a guide to help you understand your condition and diet, to get the right advise consult a renal doctor, who can help you with your queries. Your doctor may also tell you to take a special medicine called ‘potassium binder’ to help your body get rid of extra potassium.

Lower-potassium foods for kidney patients (small portions and leached)

  • Apples, cranberries, orange, pineapples, papaya, guava (seedless) and strawberries
  • Cauliflower, onions, peppers, summer squash, lettuce, Pumpkin
  • Pita, tortillas and white breads
  • milk, eggs, chicken, fish, white rice

High-Potassium foods to be avoided by Kidney patients

  • Avocados, bananas, melons, oranges, prunes and raisins
  • Artichokes, winter squash, plantains, spinach, potatoes and tomatoes
  • Bran products and granola
  • Beans (baked, black, pinto, etc.), brown or wild rice

Check Phosphorus levels

Phosphorus is a mineral that is present in almost all foods. It works with calcium and vitamin D to keep bones healthy. Level of phosphorus is maintained by kidneys but when our kidneys are not working well, phosphorus can build up in your blood and can lead to weak bones that break easily.

People with kidney disease are often advised to limit phosphorus in their diet by their dietitian.

Depending on stage of kidney disease, doctors may also prescribe a medicine called a phosphate binder, which help keep phosphorus from building up in your blood. Though a phosphate binder can be helpful, but kidney patients still need to monitor their phosphorus intake.

Healthy food choices for kidney patients to limit phosphorus buildup in their blood.

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Eat these lower-phosphorous foods

  • Italian, French or sourdough bread
  • Corn or rice cereals and cream of wheat
  • Unsalted popcorn
  • Some light-colored sodas and lemonade

Rather than these higher-phosphorous foods

  • Whole-grain bread
  • Bran cereals and oatmeal
  • Nuts and sunflower seeds
  • Dark-colored colas

Watch over Protein intake

Protein is needed for our muscle buildup and our body needs it to grow, heal and stay healthy. Having too little protein can cause your skin, hair and nails to be weak, however, having too much protein can also be a problem. The amount of protein you should have depends on your body size, activity level and health concerns.

Some doctors recommend that people with kidney disease limit protein or change their source of protein. This is because a diet very high in protein can make the kidneys work harder and may cause more damage. Always, ask your doctor or dietitian how much protein you should have and what the best sources of protein are for you.

Below is the table about which foods are low or high in protein.

Lower-protein foods:

  • Bread
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Pasta and rice

Higher-protein foods:

  • Red meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Eggs

Cut down on fat, calories and carbs


Fat taken in moderate amounts could be healthy for us as it give us energy and helps us to use some of the vitamins in our food. However, too much fat can lead to weight gain and heart disease. Healthier fat or “good” fat is called unsaturated fat. Examples of unsaturated fat include:

  • Olive oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Corn oil

Whereas, saturated fat, also known as “bad” fat, can raise your cholesterol level and raise your risk for heart disease. Examples of saturated fats include:

  • Butter
  • Lard
  • Shortening
  • Meats

You should also avoid nother type of fat, trans fat, which makes your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol higher and your “good” (HDL) cholesterol lower. When this happens, you are more likely to get heart disease, which can cause kidney damage.

When you look at the nutrition facts, there are a few key areas that will give you the information you need:


You may also need to adjust how many calories you eat based on your weight goals. Your doctor or dietitian can help you figure out how many calories you should have each day. Work with your dietitian to make a meal plan that helps you get the right amount of calories, and keep in touch for support.

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Carbohydrates or popularly known as carbs, are the easiest kind of energy for your body to use. Healthy sources of carbohydrates include fruits and vegetables. Unhealthy sources of carbohydrates include sugar, honey, hard candies, soft drinks and other sugary drinks.

It is to be note that carbohydrates are high in potassium and phosphorus, which you may need to limit depending on your stage of kidney disease. You may also need to watch your carbohydrates carefully if you have diabetes. Your dietitian can help you learn more about the carbohydrates in your meal plan and how they affect your blood sugar.


Choosing healthy foods is a smart decision but eating too much of anything, even healthy foods, can be a problem. The other part of a healthy diet is portion control, or watching how much you eat.

-Check the nutrition facts label on a food to learn the serving size and how much of each nutrient is in one serving. Many fresh foods, such as fruits and vegetables, do not come with nutrition facts labels. Ask your dietitian for a list of nutrition facts for fresh foods and tips for how to measure the right portions.

-Eat slowly, and chew properly. Stop eating when you are not hungry any more as it takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you are full. If you eat too quickly, you may eat more than you need.

-Avoid eating while doing something else, such as watching TV or driving because when you are distracted you may not realize how much you have eaten.


If your are on a kidney-friendly meal plan, it may become hard for you to get all of the vitamins and minerals you need. To help you get the right amounts of vitamins and minerals, your dietitian may suggest a special supplement made for people with kidney disease.

Your doctor or dietitian might also suggest a special kind of vitamin D, folic acid or iron pill, to help prevent some common side effects of kidney disease, such as bone disease and anemia. Always tell your doctor and dietitian about any vitamins, supplements or over-the-counter medicines you are taking as some of them can cause more damage to your kidneys or cause other health problems.

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Following a kidney-friendly meal plan with diabetes

Diabetic patients need to control their blood sugar to prevent more damage to their kidneys. Your doctor or dietician may ask you to avoid certain foods and fruits that are high in sugar.

High blood glucose or blood sugar, can damage the blood vessels in kidneys. When the blood vessels are damaged, they don’t work as well. Many people with diabetes also develop high blood pressure, which can also damage your kidneys.

How to take care of kidney with diabetes

The best way to slow or prevent diabetes-related kidney disease is to try to reach blood glucose and blood pressure goals. Healthy lifestyle habits and taking medicines as prescribed can help one to achieve these goals and improve overall health.

Here are few examples of foods a person with both diabetes and CKD can eat. But we always recommend you to take advice of your dietitian first

Fruits: berries, grapes, cherries, apples, plums
Veggies: cauliflower, onions, eggplant, turnips
Proteins: lean meats (poultry, fish), eggs, unsalted seafood
Carbs: white bread, bagels, sandwich buns, unsalted crackers, pasta
Drinks: water, clear diet sodas, unsweetened tea

Dialysis and Diabetes

Did you know your blood sugar levels can actually get better with late-stage CKD? Yes it could, possibly because of changes in how your body uses insulin. But when you’re on dialysis, your blood sugar can increase because the fluid used to filter your blood is high in glucose (sugar). However, your need for insulin and other diabetes medicines will be monitored by your doctor.

Other important things that can help you stay fit with CKD problem

-Never let yourself exhausted with work as muscle when sore can level up creatnine in your blood.

-Try to keep yourself warm and well covered in winters as shivering, fever, cold etc can create problem for the kidney patients.

-As your immunity goes down avoid going in crowded places.

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We wish a speedy recovery and a long life for all the kidney patients. We tried our best to provide you all the information so that you can lead a healthy and care free life as all your queries can be satisfied here. For much better guidance consult your doctor or dietician.

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