How do I Choose the Best Renal Failure Diet?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 February 2020
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To choose the right renal failure diet, it is important for you to first speak with your doctor or care provider to ensure that you are considering a safe and helpful choice. Once you have determined that you could benefit from a particular diet, you should begin looking for the one most likely to help your situation. Although there are several dietary options for kidney patients, most them have some basic guidelines in common. These include avoiding sodium and fluids, as well as eating more fresh foods.

Most renal failure diet plans restrict the intake of sodium in the body. That is because sodium causes the body to retain fluids and swell. Normally, the kidneys can process and get rid of this extra fluid within a day or two. Someone with renal, or kidney, failure is not able to rid the body of the extra fluid. This causes the arms and legs to swell, and eventually causes cells, tissues, and organs in the body to retain water. Once fluid retention reaches the other organs in the body, failure of other systems can take place.


The amount of sodium you can have will depend on your renal failure diet. If you are in the end stages of renal failure, it's best that you eat as many fresh foods as possible while avoiding those that are high in salts. Foods to avoid include cured meats, cheeses, and most processed and canned foods. Those will early stage renal failure can generally enjoy a high sodium food on occasion.

You should also avoid drinking too many fluids per day. Although water can help rid the body of excess sodium in those with normally functioning kidneys, someone with renal failure already has too many fluids in the body to process. Remember, also, that any food that become a liquid at room temperature is considered a liquid. Therefore, avoid gelatin and ice cream.

Potassium should also be avoided by all kidney patients. This is generally not easy to do because potassium has no taste and is not often mentioned on nutrition labels. To be safe, avoid high potassium foods like nuts, avocados, dried foods, winter squash, and oranges. Foods that are generally considered safe include applesauce, berries, cucumbers, summer squash, and green beans.

The remainder of diet guidelines may vary based on whether or not you are currently on dialysis. For example, those who are not currently using dialysis for end stage renal disease should avoid protein and eat mainly fruits and vegetables. Patients who are on dialysis, however, should eat a protein filled diet. Your physician will give you exact guidance on the amount of protein you need to per day.

Choosing the right renal failure diet should be done only with a doctor's guidance. The foods you will need to eat and the ones to avoid may be dictated by the stage of renal failure you have. Generally, sticking to fresh foods is best to maintain overall health for as long as possible. Diet may be used in combination with medication to properly control renal failure.


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Post 2

I would discuss your husband's diet with a licensed nutritionist. Although many would argue, most doctors do not know much about proper dietary options aside from things which are considered dangerous by the FDA.

For instance, a doctor once told me to drink Crystal Lite while pregnant even though these drinks are high in artificial sweeteners. The FDA claims these have not be proven harmful during pregnancy, although there is evidence to the contrary, and even if there is no evidence yet, why risk it?

A dietitian or a nutritionist is the person to ask for help in terms of dietary options because they are trained specifically in that area. You may be able to find one who specializes in

renal disease, or at least one who is familiar with dietary restrictions and options for those with kidney failure.

Also, although I am not a doctor I recommend getting a second opinion in the K issue if you feel your doctor has made a mistake. This article was meant as a general guideline and does not necessarily reflect the needs of an individual, but doctors do make mistakes and it's always better to be safe than sorry. Good luck to you.

Post 1

My husband has one kidney and it is failing. His most recent potassium level is 6.3 and seems to be climbing. The doctors were saying low protein diet. Now it's low K. We know that ESRD is imminent but I find that I get mixed messages on which foods he can and cannot eat. His favorite winter meals include stews, soups and especially beans (chili or ham and beans). The doctor said to go ahead and eat beans. What I am finding is that her statement was wrong. They are high in potassium. Which is it? Help.

Also, where can I get a complete list of foods low in K. This nutrient is 'never' listed on the list of ingredients in food packages.

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