Currently no specific diet has been proven to make your polycystic kidneys better or keep them from getting worse. It is, however, ideal to eat a balanced and healthy diet to maintain optimal body conditions. A healthy body is able to fight infection better, and bounce back faster. Accumulation of waste products filtered by your kidneys will build up in your blood as kidney function declines. At the more advanced stages of kidney failure (i.e., GFR <30–40 percent), significant accumulation of these waste products in your blood can cause symptoms of kidney failure.
Essentials for a balanced and healthy diet
Given the current obesity epidemic that is prevalent in all developed countries, the following provides a simple conceptual framework for a balanced and healthy diet:
Tips for a healthy diet:
- High fiber: Include fresh vegetables and nuts, whole grains, legumes, fruits.
- Carbohydrates: Minimize intake of bread and pasta. About 50% of daily calories should come from carbs. Try to avoid “Fast carbs” (sugar) and include “slow carbs” (pasta).
- Protein: Include red meats in moderation.
- Fat: Moderate intake may actually decrease hunger drive (use olive oil in salad dressing to increase fat intake) Healthy types of fatty acids include cold water fish (halibut, salmon, flounder, cod), walnuts, flax seed (these are high in phosphorus, remember diet may need to be adjusted once you reach Pro
- Processed foods: Avoid processed food and sugary drinks with fructose syrup.
- Portion size: Decrease food portion size if you are overweight.
If you have moderate to advanced kidney failure, further modification of the above will be required and consultation with your doctor and a dietitian experienced with kidney disease is recommended.
- form strong bones and teeth
- maintain a normal pH balance
- get oxygen to tissues
- create energy by changing protein, fat and carbohydrate into energy
- develop connective tissues and organs
- move muscles
- produce hormones
- use B vitamins
- Healthy individuals need 800-1200 mg /day (a balanced, nutritious diet provides plenty of phosphorus)
- When kidney function declines, it becomes difficult for the body to balance phosphorus. As kidney function declines, kidney disease patients may need to adjust phosphorus intake to 800 mg/day. Your nephrologist will watch phosphorus levels in your labs and will advise you how to manage phosphorus.
- It may become necessary to take phosphorus binders to manage phosphorus levels.
Studies in high blood pressure patients without PKD have shown that the so-called DASH diet (Dietary Approach to Stopping Hypertension), which consists of lots of fruits and vegetables combined with low-fat dairy, may lower blood pressure. A diet based on these guidelines could also seem appropriate for you. Look in the resources section at the back of the book for web resources on the DASH diet. Talk to your doctor before significantly altering your diet.
Example of a Renal Diet # 1
- Breakfast: One serving of egg substitute, scrambled with fresh chopped onion and red and green bell peppers. Pair with one slice of white toast with one or two teaspoons of cream cheese and a small bowl (about a ½ cup) of fresh strawberries.
- Snack: One apple, medium in size.
- Lunch: Cabbage rolls-use two or three large, crisp, cabbage leaves to roll up shredded baked chicken, chopped apple, onions, a little bit of mayonnaise, and a sprinkle of honey mustard vinaigrette (made by whisking together apple cider vinegar, yellow mustard, and honey). Serve with a serving of unsalted pretzels.
- Snack: One serving of baby carrots, with homemade, low sodium hummus or ranch dressing.
- Dinner: Low sodium turkey and vegetable chili, topped with a small dollop of low fat sour cream. Serve with five unsalted crackers.
- Dessert: Small slice of angel food cake with fresh strawberries and low fat, non-dairy whipped cream
Example of a renal diet #2
- Breakfast: One English muffin with one teaspoon of cream cheese and one teaspoon of sugar free fruit preserve. Side with ½ cup of yellow grits and a small bowl of mixed berries.
- Snack: One small bunch of grapes.
- Lunch: ½ cup Cauliflower and ¼ cup chopped red bell pepper, sautéed in 1 tbsp olive oil with garlic and chopped onion. Toss with ½ cup of cooked noodles. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.
- Snack: ½ cup peach slices with ¼ cup cottage cheese.
- Dinner: Two chicken tacos, topped with a small amount of natural shredded cheese, chopped onions, and shredded cabbage. Serve with ½ cup of rice, seasoned with cilantro and lime juice.
- Dessert: One medium apple, sliced and baked with cinnamon.
The PKD Foundation does not offer medical advice. The information shared on this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We strongly recommend that your care and treatment decisions be made in consultation with your healthcare professional team.