How can food help the kidneys?

With over 2000 Australians admitted into hospital every day with kidney disease, it’s a health problem worth paying attention to. Healthy eating patterns are associated with lower rates of death in people with Kidney disease (Kelly, 2016) as well as a delay in the progression of chronic kidney disease (Wai, 2016)

A renal diet is one of the more complex diet plans around merely because specific nutrient requirements vary depending on the stage of chronic kidney disease. Recently, it has been suggested that certain similar eating patterns to the Australian Healthy Eating Guidelines could be the best for optimizing kidney health in those with a kidney disease. For those with more complicated side effects, careful consideration of protein, phosphorous, sodium, potassium, fluid and total energy intake is needed. Be it early or end-stage kidney disease without the use of dialysis, working with an Accredited practising dietitian with experience in renal disease is essential. With the appropriate diet changes, progression towards end stage kidney failure and dialysis can be delayed.

So, here’s a brief rundown of what you can do to protect your kidneys:

Renal, Kidney and chronic disease Dietitian

Diet and the kidneys

A healthy diet, which has the right types and amount of fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy, and protein sources is important.

Large observational studies (international and Australian-based) have shown that people with kidney disease who eat this way live longer

Similar international studies have shown that people who eat this way are less likely to ever get a kidney issue

Some examples include the DASH diet, the Mediterranean diet, and eating to National Dietary Guidelines

Dietary counseling has been shown to help kidney function (as measured by eGFR) – although there is a lot of variation between studies and different populations.

Salt and added sugars

Blood pressure and uncontrolled blood sugar are the main drivers of kidney function decline – do you have high blood pressure or high blood sugar?

A low salt diet is proven to reduce blood pressure, protein in the urine and blood fluid volume in people with kidney disease

A personalised nutrition plan paired with healthy exercise is the best way to achieve optimal blood sugar control

Protein Intake

Maintaining a normal (not too high, not too low) is important for reducing your risk of kidney function decline. Think of proteins as large balls which are not meant to fit through the tiny holes in the kidney – too much protein can cause this to happen and accelerate kidney function decline

It is very hard to reduce protein intake to a ‘normal’ level for many people. You may not even be aware of foods that have protein in them, or whether certain types of proteins are better than others.

Evidence suggests that getting protein intake right probably reduces the number of people with advanced kidney failure and who progress to dialysis

Fibre Intake

Low fibre intake is very common in kidney patients, who might be restricting wholegrains or carbohydrates. This is not always recommended. Fibre is incredibly important for maintaining a health gut (which controls nasty chemicals from unhealthy bacteria in your gut) and reduces inflammation

Fibre also helps control blood pressure and blood sugar levels

Some observational studies have shown people who consume more fibre live longer than people who do not

Protein-energy wasting

Protein-energy wasting (losing muscle and eating less than normal)

Improves anthropometry, serum albumin, body composition, quality of life, and nutritional intake

Kidney stones

There are many factors that can increase the risk of a kidney stone. There are also many different types of kidney stones and the type of dietary intervention varies accordingly.


Increasing fluid intake

Reducing soft drinks

Reducing large volumes of animal protein and associated phosphate

Higher fibre




pH levels

Uric acid


An individually tailored nutrition approach is the most effective at preventing reoccurring kidney stones.

Potassium and Phosphate

The kidney is responsible for regulating these electrolytes and sometimes your doctor may ask you to restrict these if your blood levels are too high.

It is very important that this is done with the oversight of a specialist dietitian, who can ensure making these changes doesn’t have the knock-on effect of causing other health issues

To get more help get the most out of your kidney and delay the progression of kidney disease, book an appointment with renal dietitian Jaimon Kelly.

Jaimon Kelly, Accredited Practising Renal Dietitian

Conditions I can help with:

  • IgA Nephropathy
  • Diabetic Nephropathy
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Haemodialysis
  • Peritoneal dialysis
  • Kidney transplant (pre and post)
  • Nephrolithiasis (kidney stones)
  • Single functioning kidneys
  • Renal carcinoma

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If you or someone you know could benefit from an expert’s advice get in touch with My Nutrition Clinic today.




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