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What Can and Shouldn’t I Drink?

How much fluid and types of fluid you intake is very important for the chronic kidney disease patient to monitor.  Some patients may have been asked by their physician to monitor and/or restrict the amount of fluids they take in.

Your fluid intake should be monitored by examining your individual fluid status. If you are retaining fluid, cut back on your intake and vice versa.

1. People with healthy kidneys should drink 8-10 eight-ounce glasses (64 ounces) of water everyday
2. Patients on dialysis and/or patients going through a “sick period,” may exhibit signs of dehydration. Signs of dehydration include: headaches, heartburn, joint and back pain, kidney stones, constipation, fatigue and dizziness.
3. Patients on diuretics may be more susceptible to dehydration.
4. Drinking water lowers risk of urinary tract and bladder infections, which can be common in kidney disease patients.
5. Signs of fluid overload include swollen fingers and ankles, high blood pressure, bloating and difficulty breathing.

Is alcohol or soda bad for the kidneys?
Not always. In moderation, alcohol and soda are not bad for the kidneys.  But, both affect the kidneys indirectly. Alcoholic beverages and sodas are high in calories, and too much of them are not good for anyone with diabetes. Diabetes is the number one cause of kidney failure.

Also, while alcohol affects the liver more directly, it can raise blood pressure. And cause dehydration. High blood pressure may damage the kidneys. High blood pressure is the number two cause of kidney failure.

Alcohol also can be dangerous to drink when you are on some kinds of medicine. Make sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist about how alcohol can affect your medicines.

A new study linked drinking two or more sugary drinks each day with an increased risk for high blood pressure.

Is cranberry juice good for the kidneys?
Cranberry juice may help prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs). The juice makes it hard for germs (bacteria) to grow in your bladder. If you are prone to UTI’s and/or kidney infections, including 100% cranberry juice in your daily intake might be a good idea.

What about energy drinks?
Energy drinks should be used with caution. They are soft drinks whose producers advertise that they boost energy. Most contain a source of caffeine as their major ingredient. Chronic kidney disease patients should monitor the amount of caffeine that they include in their diets and limit it to less than 200-mg/ day. Refer to the list below for caffeine intake in common beverages and food items.

Food Item (Caffeine Content)
Brewed Coffee (100mg)
Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Kisses (5mg)
M&M’s Milk Chocolate (16mg)
Mountain Dew (56mg)
Snapple Iced Tea (38mg)
Starbucks Coffee Frappuccino (166mg)

How much water should I drink?
You may not need to drink eight glasses of water every day to stay healthy, as once thought. But, water is still a better choice than drinks that have caffeine like soda, coffee or tea. These drinks can actually make you thirstier. Avoiding extra sugary juices and fruit punches is also a good idea, especially if you have diabetes. Drinking plenty of water may also help prevent kidney stones. Always make sure to stay within your physician’s fluid intake recommendations and watch for fluid overload.


  1. Judy Chambers says:

    Was disappointed that this seemed to be more about diabetes than PKD.

    1. Kelly Welsh says:

      Hi Judy! I am sorry that you feel the information in this article may not have been pertinent to the PKD patient. As quite a few patients with kidney disease in general, and those with PKD, may also be struggling with diabetes as well, i felt it was important to include. Even those of us, without diabetes, but with PKD, can benefit from some of the diabetic recommendations. We do know that PKD patients might have some insulin-resistant tendencies….so watching our sugary-beverage intake can certainly be helpful for us. Please keep an eye out for further PKD specific nutrition stories, but also keep in mind that i do try to keep it generalized for the entire kidney-disease population, as well.
      Thanks Judy!

    2. Raul Martinez says:

      Diaretics are avoided in my diet. That means no coffee, and all varieties of tea. Then what’s left for myself, who was drinking coffee all his life, like my father and Grandfather?

  2. Sandee D says:

    Very helpful! Thanks.

  3. Heather O. says:

    It would be helpful if there was a quantitative amount included with the mg of caffeine in each drinks. For example, when you say there are 38 mg of caffeine in Snapple Iced Tea, are you talking about 8oz or 12oz of tea? Brewed coffee–is that 12 oz, or 4 oz, or 6 oz? Without the quantitative amounts, the list is, sorry, kinda useless.

    1. Kelly Welsh says:

      Good question Heather…you are absolutely correct.

      Here is the list:

      Food Item (Caffeine Content)
      Brewed Coffee (100mg)- 8 oz.
      Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Kisses (5mg)- 8 pieces
      M&M’s Milk Chocolate (16mg)- 1/4 cup
      Mountain Dew (56mg)- 12 oz.
      Snapple Iced Tea (38mg) 12 oz.
      Starbucks Coffee Frappuccino (166mg) 12 oz.

      Thanks Heather!

      1. Shirley says:

        Thank you , I have been trying to figure this out how many ounces are in a mg , it helped until the last two that are both are 12 oz but different mg. Now I’m confused again . But this is the closest I’ve come , thank you

        1. Shirley says:

          Thank you , I have been trying to figure this out how many ounces are in a mg , it helped until the last two that are both are 12 oz but different mg. Now I’m confused again . But this is the closest I’ve come , thank you . I have stage 3 ckd and so confused of all this counting .my number was 47 then went up to 59 , but so afraid ok everything I eat is going to bring my number back down . So trying to figure out the mg to ounces .

          1. Dave says:

            The amount of caffeine is in mg, while the amount of beverage that has that much caffeine is in oz. For example, an 8 oz cup of coffee has about 200 mg of caffeine. Thus, do not drink more than 2 cups of coffee a day and avoid the other items on the list.

            What number are you referring to? (47 and 59?)

      2. A says:

        So snapple ice t is ok in moderation

  4. Jeannette says:

    Hi Kelly, I just found this website today and appreciate all the in put and info. These guide lines will be helpful. My son drinks about a full 12-20oz energy drink most days, I complained so he went to coke, now he gets the physical hi’s and low’s that come with the coke. He complains that he ‘needs to wake up’ and has ‘no energy’9He’s always done this. He’s 17 and has no loss of kidney function yet; the K dr. said to use moderation with the energy drinks. Also his diet is horrible; I try to fix healthy things but he complains and eats more meat, pizza, quesadillas. Any suggestions for getting a picky teen to eat right?

  5. Kelly Welsh says:

    Hi Jeannette!

    Yikes…this is certainly not an easy one! Picky teenagers with the possibility of PKD are a tough subject. In my experience, education is key. Does he know and understand what his future might hold with a possible PKD diagnosis? We do know that the earlier a PKD patient starts practicing good eating habits, the more benefits from diet that we reap in helping to slow down the disease process. My suggestions would be education first on the disease in general. The second thing that I might recommend, is getting him involved in the cooking process. I do this with my 3 much younger children. Each week, they are responsible for each choosing a meal that we will eat. They choose it and help in the preparation process. This seems to at least fire-up their interest in what they are eating and why. The energy drinks/caffeine/soda intake and using them to “wake-up” can really be a vicious circle. Plus, it’s hard to stop the intake of these things without the physical withdrawal symptoms. The good news is that through food, we can get much better control of our highs and lows. Maybe ask your son to try for a week, using food as an upper. Encourage him to eat every 3 hours, while awake. This includes meals and snacks. He should be including a small protein snack every time he eats something. For example: nuts, cheese, peanut butter are all great choices. See how he reacts to this, and if his mood improves. All in all…dietary changes are very hard to make. Slow changes are usually the lasting changes, and when he understands how his diet can affect his health dramatically in the future, he might just start to respond more positively for you!

    Good luck!

  6. Alicia Gomez says:

    Hello Kelly, I want to know if milk is okay to drink. I drink a 4 oz glass of non-fat milk daily, but have read that dairy is not recommended for someone with PKD. If this is true, what can I substitute it for. I have osteoporosis and could use the calcium.

  7. cynthia says:

    hello i was just asking is light pop like 7 up and sprite bad for your kidney and that can put u in the hospital and goes for coffee to .

  8. Dennis Dawal says:

    Hi Kelly,

    I just want to ask is it good for PKD disease to drink juices? for example the level shows 8 Red Fruits Drink, or only Cranberry juice is good to drink? And also what fruits you can suggest best to eat? I will wait for your reply…Thanks


  9. Tristin Lee says:

    I am 75 years old, with stage 3 kidney disease (moderate). My Dr. kept saying not to worry as this happens in older adults. My eating habits are ok, but since I live alone I fudge a lot. What can I do to keep it from advancing to a higher level. I started drinking lots of water, but I get up 3 or 4 times a night to pee. I have noticed my urine is not very yellow. I also am fatigued. I am in good health, I thought, as I have exercised all my life, am a Personal Trainer, teach classes and have done this for over 40 years. What causes this to appear. Their is diabetes in my family but it was onset. What do I do now to prevent it from getting worse.

    1. T. Cross says:

      I am wondering the same thing as Tristin Lee

  10. Nancy ball says:

    Can a stage 3 C k d patient drink ginger ale or anything else other than milk juices.

  11. Renee says:

    Hi, I was wondering if it is ok or beneficial to drink hydration drinks, such as Gatorade or other things that are beneficial for hydration levels. I wonder because these drinks usually contain high levels of sodium and potassium. But we’re also told, as we have PKD to stay hydrated…

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