Kidney and bladder health

15 June 2010

Renal nutrition: fluid intake

Fluid and water recommendations for chronic renal failure patients, provided by the Nutrition Information Centre of the University of Stellenbosch (NICUS).

The information explosion in the science of nutrition very often creates the impression that available information is contradictory. Consequently, it is no longer easy to distinguish between fact, misinformation and fiction. The Nutrition Information Centre of the University of Stellenbosch (NICUS) was established to act as a reliable and independent source of nutrition information.

Maintaining fluid balance in the body is one of the primary functions of the healthy kidneys. During kidney failure excretion of fluid is impaired, resulting in disturbances in the body’s fluid balance and the development of fluid overload. This can become a burden to especially the heart which has to work harder and the lungs, causing shortness of breath. It can also cause a sudden increase in body weight and swelling, all signs that your fluid intake is too much for your kidneys.

  • Sweetened cool drinks, such as carbonated cool drink drinks should be limited to avoid excess fluid and energy intake. Dark drinks such as cola and beer may contain large amounts of phosphate and should be  restricted by patients with kidney failure.
  • Fruit and vegetable juices (100% juices) and sports drinks should be limited to avoid excess energy intake as well as excess electrolytes such as potassium and sodium.
  • Diet- or artificially-sweetened cool drinks could replace sweetened drinks in a varied diet to avoid excess energy intake, especially for overweight and obese patients (see previous comment on dark cool drinks).
  • Coffee and tea may be enjoyed in moderation and in accordance with the daily fluid limits. Preferably, these should be with fat free or low fat milk (from the total daily milk allowance) and no sugar in the case of overweight and obese patients.
  • Milk or soy beverages (enriched with calcium): milk is high in phosphate and adults with chronic renal failure should generally limit their intake of fat free and low fat milk to 1 portion or ½ cup per day (in consultation with the dietitian and depending on the stage of renal failure). 


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