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Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD): What You Need to Know

Mohan Qi, MS, RD
December 29, 2020
March 6, 2023

Have you or someone you love been diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)? Are you concerned about CKD management? Do you feel overwhelmed with all the diet restrictions? Read this article to get some basic idea about CKD management and nutrition tips.

Importance of the Kidneys

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located below the rib cage, one on each side. Kidneys remove wastes, control the fluid, minerals and electrolytes balance in the body, and make hormones that help control blood pressure, make red blood cells and keep bones strong and healthy.

What is Chronic Kidney Disease?

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a chronic disease where the kidneys gradually lose their function, leading to a buildup of toxic wastes, fluids and electrolytes or minerals in the body. The most common causes of CKD are poorly controlled diabetes and hypertension.

The goal for CKD management is to slow down the progression of kidney function loss. Based on current research, we don’t know of any way to reverse the functional decline of the kidneys. Uncontrolled CKD can progress to end-stage kidney disease (ESRD) and patients may need dialysis or kidney transplant at that time. During the management of CKD, nutrition plays an important role. When you are at different stages of CKD, the dietary recommendations would be different.

CKD Stages

GFR Levels

Diet Restriction

Stage 1 

Normal or high GFR (GFR > 90 mL/min)

General low-sodium, low-fat healthy diet

Stage 2

Mild CKD 

(GFR = 60-89 mL/min)

Stage 3

Moderate CKD 

(GFR = 30-59 mL/min)

  • Low-sodium, low-fat healthy diet
  • Control the amount of protein you eat from your diet
  • Choose foods that are low in potassium and phosphorus
  • Fluid restriction may be needed

Stage 4

Severe CKD 

(GFR = 15-29 mL/min)

Stage 5

End stage CKD 

(GFR <15 mL/min)

Note: If you are worried about your kidneys, please talk to your doctor to get labs done more often. Functional tests are often included in routine comprehensive metabolic panel blood tests.

Eating the right amount of protein, sodium, potassium and phosphorus can help control the dangerous fluid and electrolytes buildup in the body.

General Tips for People with CKD

  • Have moderate protein intake
  • Reduce sodium intake by choosing more fresh and homemade foods
  • Choose low potassium and low phosphorus foods more often
  • Have adequate fluid intake
  • Get labs done regularly as ordered by your doctor
  • Monitor blood pressure 
  • Have adequate carbohydrates portion 
  • Keep a healthy lifestyle
  • Try to lose weight if you are overweight
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes on at least 5 days of a week
  • Cut down on alcohol consumption
  • Stop smoking if you are

Here are some links to kidney-friendly recipes:

Always talk to your healthcare providers first about the recommended diet plan that is suitable for your condition. 

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