Kidney Diet Tips

Save your kidneys with a DASH Diet

A big question after diagnosis of kidney disease is “What can I eat to save my kidneys?” If you are in early stages 1 or stage 2 chronic kidney disease (CKD), or if you have normal kidney function but are at high risk for kidney disease, today’s kidney diet tips may save your kidneys and prevent or delay the need for dialysis in the future.

The 2012 June issue of Renal and Urology News contains an article by Alison Steiber, PhD, RD, LD titled “DASH-style Diet Effective in Preventing, Delaying CKD Progression”.  DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, so as you may guess part of the focus is to reduce sodium intake, which is recommended for anyone with high blood pressure or kidney disease.

The DASH diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, and low fat dairy products. Emphasis is on lean proteins such as fish and poultry, whole grain products, legumes and nuts. The DASH diet is reduced in red meats, sweets, added sugars and sugar-containing beverages.

Composition-wise, the DASH diet is high in calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, protein and fiber. Calcium, potassium and magnesium in the diet play a role in reducing blood pressure.

Steiber explores several DASH diet studies and makes observations for those with CKD:

  • The DASH diet and variations of the DASH diet are proven to result in significant reductions in blood pressure.
  • High potassium and phosphorus content of the DASH diet usually is not an issue in early stages of CKD, as these restrictions may not be prescribed until stage 3 or stage 4 CKD. (Dialysis patients are not advised to follow a DASH diet due to high potassium and phosphorus content.)
  •  ACE inhibitors prescribed for blood pressure control may cause more potassium retention, so routine monitoring is important.
  • A vegetarian DASH-style diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts but lower in protein may reduce protein (albumin) in the urine (measured as albumin excretion rate) in patients with proteinuria.
  • The DASH diet is associated with lower risk of kidney stone development.

High blood pressure, protein in the urine, and kidney stones are damaging to the kidneys and can speed the progression of kidney failure. For early stage CKD consider a DASH or vegetarian DASH-style diet to reduce blood pressure, reduce protein in the urine, prevent kidney stones and save your kidneys.

For more information on the DASH diet check out “Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure with Dash”  or go to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to read more about DASH.

Consult your doctor or dietitian for advice on the best diet for your individual needs.


Sara Colman, RDN, CDCES

Sara Colman, RDN, CDCES

Sara is a renal dietitian with over 30 years experience working with people with diabetes and kidney disease. She is co-author of the popular kidney cookbook "Cooking for David: A Culinary Dialysis Cookbook". Sara is the Manager of Kidney Care Nutrition for DaVita. She analyzes recipes and creates content, resources and tools for the kidney community. In her spare time Sara loves to spend time with her young grandson, including fun times together in her kitchen.