As kidney function declines, the kidneys must work very hard to rid the body of protein waste and minerals.

When a person is diagnosed with kidney disease, the main nutrients limited in the kidney-friendly diet include protein, phosphorus, potassium and sodium.

Fluids are generally restricted as well, with recommended amounts prescribed by a physician or dietitian.

Keep in mind, it is very important to seek the advice of your physician and registered dietitian to develop the best plan to ensure your kidneys stay healthy while meeting your nutritional needs.

Here are a few tips to help adjust to a kidney (or clinically known as renal) diet.

Fluid Intake

Choose tap or plain bottled water, mineral water or flavored sparkling water. Specialty waters may be enhanced with sodium, potassium or phosphate additives.

A great idea is to make your own tea or homemade lemonade for a change of pace. Bottled or canned beverages can be loaded with phosphates.

Power Protein Ideas

Choose fresh poultry and pork as many pre-cooked products such as nuggets and strips contain greater amounts of sodium, phosphate and potassium additives.

Meatless meals or dishes which use less meat are ideal to reduce protein intake and kidney stress.

Egg whites and high omega-3 fish are also great sources of protein. Regardless of your recommended protein level, plan at least half from high-quality sources such as these to receive all the essential amino acids.

Egg whites are low in phosphorus and fish such as salmon, trout and tuna are thought to reduce inflammation associated with kidney and heart disease.

When consuming cheese, select natural cheese. Limit the amount consumed to 1-2 ounces per day (or as recommended) to decrease the intake of sodium and phosphorus.


Eat antioxidant-rich apples, berries, cherries, red grapes, cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, onions and red bell peppers to help decrease chronic inflammation associated with kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Trim the fat

Replace unhealthy fats such as shortening, animal fats and hydrogenated margarine with healthy fats, such as olive oil.

Carey Stites is a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and a Registered Dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition. Carey is currently the Registered Dietitian working with Wellstone in Harker Heights. Contact her at

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