CKD – Before Dialysis

The most important thing you can do to keep your kidneys healthy is keep your blood pressure and blood sugars under control. Uncontrolled diabetes and high blood pressure (Hypertension) can make your kidneys get worse faster. In order to take care of these things, try to keep to a healthy weight and continue to work with your doctors and dietitians to manage diet and medications.

In general, a heart-healthy diet is good for your kidneys:

Sodium: It is important to limit sodium to 2000mg per day or less to help with blood pressure and fluid control.
Increase fiber intake: 25-40g per day. Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains.
Limit intake of saturated and trans fats

  • High fat dairy products (cheese, butter, yogurt, milk, half and half, cream, ice cream)
  • Animal fats (red meat, skins on meat, sausages, brats, hot dogs)
  • Anything "hydrogenated" or "partially-hydrogenated," (stick margarine, shortening)
  • Baked goods and desserts (especially donuts, pie crusts, frostings)
  • Deep-fried foods 

Increase intake of unsaturated fats (mono, poly, omega-3)

  • Salmon, mackerel, herring, or sardines
  • Olive oil or canola oil
  • If OK potassium and phosphorus levels: Avocados, nuts, nut butters

Exercise regularly: Aim for 20-30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week

Limiting protein intake may help keep your kidney function from worsening. Excess protein intake can put stress on your kidneys and make their function decline faster. However, you do need protein for essential bodily functions. You should keep to a moderate to low daily protein intake.

Height Grams protein/day Servings/day
5-2 or shorter 45-55 6
5-3 to 5-7 50-65 7
5-8 to 5-11 60-75 8
6-0 to 6-4 70-85 9

Each of these is equal to one serving or ounce, or 7 grams of protein:

  • 1 oz. beef, lamb, pork, poultry or fish
  • 2 Tbsp. Peanut butter 
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup cooked dried beans, peas or lentils 
  • ¼ cup egg substitute
  • 4 oz. tofu
  • 1 oz. or 5 medium shrimp
  • 1 oz natural cheese (Swiss, Cheddar, etc.)
  • ¼ cup meat, fish, lobster or clams
  • ¼ cup cottage cheese 

Animal proteins tend to be a little harder on the kidneys than plant-based proteins. If your potassium and phosphorus levels are ok, consider adding more vegetarian protein sources (like beans, legumes, nuts and soy) and cutting down on the amount of meat and dairy you eat.

Depending on your kidney function and medications, you may need to limit potassium or phosphorus intake. Your doctor will tell you if your lab values are high and if you need to be limiting these nutrients.