These dietary restrictions are part of a kidney diet, designed to help prevent a further decline in your kidney function.

A kidney diet helps to prevent the build-up of waste, excess minerals and fluids in the body which can increase the kidneys’ workload and cause a rapid decline in kidney function. Poor kidney function can also be associated with other health problems, such as high blood pressure, breathing difficulties, heart disease, weak muscles and brittle bones.

Dietary restrictions vary depending on the stage of kidney disease

In the early stages, you may just need to restrict protein and sodium intake. If the disease worsens, your healthcare provider may recommend that you limit foods high in potassium and phosphorus too.

“There isn’t a single eating plan for kidney disease since dietary requirements differ from patient to patient,” says Ms Peggy Tan, Dietician, Tiong Bahru Community Health Centre. “This is true for both patients on dialysis and patients on non-dialysis – each patient has different dietary needs depending on the state of the condition.”

A nutritious diet with sufficient calories and adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, good fats and fluids can help kidney patients maintain a healthy weight, stay active and lead a productive life.

Kidney diet: Limiting fluids, protein, potassium, phosphorus and sodium to prevent toxic build-up


Water and other fluids are essential to the normal functioning of the body, e.g. maintaining blood volume, regulating body temperature, lubricating joints.

Why you need to limit fluids for kidney disease: Too much fluid in your body can raise your blood pressure and cause swelling. It can also affect your lungs.


Protein is an essential building block of the body, helping to build muscle and tissue, make hormones, enzymes and other body chemicals.

Why you need to limit protein for kidney disease: A build-up of protein waste can worsen kidney function.

Examples of high-protein foods:

  • Chicken, fish, beef, pork, eggs, dairy products
  • Beans and legumes, soy, nuts


Potassium is an essential mineral which the body needs for healthy muscles and heartbeat regulation.

Why you need to limit potassium for kidney disease: A build-up of potassium can cause an irregular heartbeat and muscle cramps. In some cases, levels of potassium may fall below normal, which can cause muscle weakness.

Examples of high-potassium foods:

  • Avocados, bananas, melons, oranges, prunes and raisins
  • Artichokes, spinach, potatoes, tomatoes
  • Beans (black, pinto), granola, brown rice


Phosphorus is a mineral that works with calcium to keep bones healthy.

Why you need to limit phosphorus for kidney disease: A build-up of phosphorus can cause weakness in bones.

Examples of high-phosphorus foods:

  • Wholegrain bread, oatmeal, bran cereal
  • Meat, poultry, fish
  • Sunflower seeds


Sodium regulates the body’s water balance and blood volume. It also helps in the functioning of muscles and nerves.

Why you need to limit sodium for kidney disease: Too much sodium can cause swelling, raise your blood pressure, and make your kidneys and heart work harder.

Examples of high-sodium foods:

  • Sauces and salad dressings
  • Cured meats
  • Salted nuts and snacks
  • Instant soups and canned foods
  • Fast foods

Are low-sodium salt substitutes suitable for kidney disease?

No, low sodium salt substitutes are not suitable for kidney disease. The sodium normally found in salt is replaced by potassium, which may also build up in people with reduced kidney function.

“Salt substitutes are safe for people with normal kidney function, but people with chronic kidney disease should avoid them,” says Ms Peggy Tan. “You should consult a dietitian for a suitable eating plan if you have chronic kidney disease.”

Ref: N18