10 Foods to Avoid with Kidney Disease and Diabetes

Aditi Shenai

April 15, 2024

Kidneys are bean-shaped organs containing blood vessels, which help balance minerals in the body, remove waste, and filter the blood. They help regulate blood pressure and make hormones that keep the body healthy. When the kidneys are damaged, they cannot perform this process properly. That causes waste to build up in your body and leads to other health problems. Many factors can lead to kidney diseases, but diabetes is the most common factor.

Kidney damage due to diabetes takes years to develop and can easily be prevented by controlling your blood sugar levels. The easiest way is to avoid foods that make the damage worse. The more you can keep diabetes under control, the lower your risk of kidney disease.

A study reports that people who maintain the target level of glucose levels have reduced their risk of developing microalbuminuria (a sign of kidney disease) by one-third.

Diabetes and Kidney Disease: The Connection

Diabetes and kidney diseases have a strong link. Also, diabetes mellitus is a growing epidemic and is one of the potential factors that increase the likelihood of developing kidney disease. As per a study, the condition, known as Diabetic Nephropathy, affects 20-40% of people with diabetes. 

Diabetes is a condition in which the body cannot make or use insulin on its own, resulting in increased blood sugar levels. In addition, when we consume foods or drinks, the digestive process produces waste products.

The kidney’s tiny blood vessels (nephrons) are responsible for removing these waste products. However, diabetics can damage these blood vessels and impair kidney function, which allows waste to accumulate in the body, affecting optimal electrolyte levels.

Role of Diet in Diabetic Nephropathy

Research shows that proper diet and nutrition play a critical role in managing Diabetic Nephropathy. Planning a balanced diet rich in vegetables and fruits and maintaining a healthy weight will help you achieve good kidney health. In addition, it reduces the amount of waste and fluid needed to be processed. 

If the kidneys don’t function normally, you need to incorporate an excellent nutritious diet with specific dietary restrictions to sustain kidney health. The diet for the early stages of kidney disease differs from those with the late stages. Consult a dietitian if you have Diabetic Nephropathy, who will help you make a personalised plan after analysing your health condition.

Healthy Renal Diet plan for Kidney Disease and Diabetes

If you have kidney disease, you may face restrictions when creating your daily diet. However, kidney-friendly foods will help boost your kidney function, maintain your blood sugar levels, and even help prevent the condition’s progression. According to a study, a proper renal diet includes not more than 2000 mg of sodium and potassium a day.

Research has proved that a renal diet should emphasise the consumption of low amounts of sodium, phosphorus, and potassium. It is also crucial to intake high-quality protein. Here are some essential minerals to monitor in your renal diet.


Sodium is a mineral and one of the three significant electrolytes which help in blood pressure regulation and proper functioning of the nervous system. When people with kidney disease consume too much sodium, they experience high blood pressure, swollen ankles, and difficulty breathing.


Potassium plays a crucial part in everybody’s functions, especially the kidney. However, when consumed in excess, it will cause the potassium to build up in the blood, causing Hyperkalemia. The condition eventually affects the cardiovascular system, including heart attack or abnormal heart rhythm.


Phosphorus is another mineral that aids in the healthy development and maintenance of bones. However, when people with CKD consume food with high phosphorus, it will deteriorate the calcium content in bones, making them weak and affecting the blood vessels, eyes, lungs, and heart.


Proteins do not directly affect the kidneys. However, when you consume protein, the waste products need to be filtered out by the nephrons. Damaged kidneys fail to remove these wastes, which eventually accumulate in the blood.

10 Foods and Beverages to Avoid with Diabetes and Kidney Disease

A study has found that almost 1 in 5 people with diabetes require treatment for Diabetic Nephropathy. Despite these worrying results, we can do many preventive measures to reduce the complications – the primary aspect is managing your diet.

Eating healthy with diabetes and kidney disease is quite a challenge, as these conditions have dietary limitations. However, we have listed the common foods and drinks to avoid when you have kidney disease and diabetes. By avoiding these foods, you can lower the risk of further complications.

1. Dark-coloured Sodas

According to a study, dark-coloured sodas have a high concentration of phosphorus to increase the flavour and shelf life of the drink that the human body can easily absorb. Also, 200 ml of these sodas have around 100 mg of phosphorus, which you cannot add to your renal diet.

2. Dairy Products

The human body can easily absorb a healthy diet due to essential minerals and vitamins, especially for bone health. However, the increased level of phosphorus and potassium in them will lead to more kidney damage and the build-up of protein waste in the blood.

A study has found that consuming too many dairy products will accumulate calcium in bones in people with renal disease, making them weak and prone to fractures. Instead of dairy products, you can opt for almond milk with low potassium, phosphorus, and protein while on a renal diet.

3. Processed Meats

Meats are processed to extend their shelf period, which would tend to expire after a certain period, by undergoing salted, dried, or canned. They are not only linked with kidney disease but also with other chronic conditions due to the preservative content. According to a study, processed meats use a vast amount of sodium and protein to improve taste and preserve flavour. So never include it in your renal diet.

4. Avocados

Avocados are known for being superfoods but those with kidney disease need to avoid them. A study has found that avocado contains high potassium content, around 700 mg – a mineral that kidney disease patients should not take. So it is advisable to limit potassium intake and avoid avocados in all forms in your overall diet.

5. Oranges

Oranges are considered a great source of Vitamin C; nonetheless, they are also rich in potassium content. A study found that an average size orange has around 340 grams of potassium which is not suitable to include in the renal diet. However, you can opt for grapes, apples, and cranberries as a good substitute for oranges.

6. Canned Foods

Like processed meals, canned foods, including soups, vegetables, and beans, are added with salt content to preserve and increase their shelf-life. Despite the convenience and low cost, these canned foods have high amounts of sodium, which can complicate the health of your kidneys. If you need to purchase them, look for the labelled ones with no salt added.

7. Whole Wheat Bread

Eating whole wheat bread is generally a healthy option for most due to its high fibre content, but not for individuals with kidney disease. A study has reported that 1 ounce of whole wheat bread contains 57 grams of phosphorous and 69 mg of potassium. So it is because the more bread you eat, the higher your potassium and phosphorous level. 

White bread has only 28 mg of potassium and phosphorous content and is a good substitute for wheat bread. Therefore, if you are a bread lover, check out the label and get the one with lower sodium content.

8. Potatoes

Potatoes are rich in potassium. A study shows that a medium-sized potato has 610 mg of potassium which will not fit the renal diet. However, soaking or leaching these potassium-rich vegetables can eventually reduce the potassium level.

Though removing the potassium altogether is impossible, soaking potatoes in water for at least 4 hours before cooking or double-cooking will help you keep the level in check.

9. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are high-potassium foods that are usually used in various dishes and often used to prepare sauces. Both tomatoes and tomato sauce need to be avoided when you have kidney disease.

You can use red pepper sauce as a substitute for tomatoes, which tends to be lower in potassium. 

10. Pickles and Relish

Pickles and relish are similar to processed meats that you should limit in the renal diet. While preparing pickles, a large amount of salt increases the sodium content.

A study says one pickle spear has 300 mg of sodium while a sweet pickle relish has 244 mg of sodium. 

The Bottom Line

Diabetic Nephropathy is a condition caused by diabetes that affects the kidneys. You can prevent Following a healthy and smart eating plan is essential, limiting certain foods. A kidney-friendly diet is not about eliminating numerous food items from your diet; instead, it is about finding the proper nutrients – proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.

A study says that nutrition in the right amount is key to living a healthy life, whether you have diabetes and kidney disease or not. An overdose of nutrition with Diabetic Nephropathy is critically dangerous as undernourishment. Hence, eating a healthy and balanced diet manages the condition and makes it possible to lead an everyday life. Every person’s condition and body are unique, emphasising the importance of consulting a renal dietitian before creating your diet plan. An ideal plan must suit your specific needs and promote your health.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What should a diabetic with kidney disease eat?

A. If you have diabetes and kidney disease, you need to build a diet plan properly. It should keep your sugar level under control and maintain the function of your kidneys. Besides avoiding certain foods, you need to include some healthy fruits and vegetables along with other protein sources (lean meats, egg whites).

Q. What foods should not be eaten if you have kidney disease?

A. Dietary restrictions may differ based on the stage and cause of the kidney diseases. However, avoiding certain foods in your diet will help you manage your kidney function. For example, a study suggested avoiding foods with high sodium and phosphorus content, including dairy products, sodas, and potatoes. More nutrients will make the kidneys work harder, eventually causing the chronic kidney disease to get worse than before. 

Q. Are eggs bad for kidneys?

A. Proteins are called the building blocks of our body. Egg whites are considered a kidney-friendly source of high-quality protein since they contain all essential amino acids. According to a study, egg whites could be a better choice in the renal diet when consumed in moderation. However, egg yolks contain a rich concentration of phosphorous and choline, the precursor for the trimethylamine N-oxide which can induce harmful effects in chronic kidney diseases. You can either get fresh or pasteurised egg white; make omelettes, sandwiches, or salad to add extra protein to your healthy meal.

Q. What can kidney disease patients eat?

A. A study has recommended that patients with kidney disease consume a balanced diet. It should be rich in fruits, vegetables, wholegrain cereals, nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, lean meats, poultry, eggs, and low-fat-containing dairy products. In addition, you can reduce your intake of foods high in salt, sugar and fat.

Q. What are the 10 best foods for kidney disease?

A. Depending on the stage of the kidney disease, the particular diet plan for people can vary. 

Below are the top 10 best foods to boost kidney function and prevent further kidney damage.

  • Cauliflower
  • Blueberries
  • Egg whites
  • Garlic
  • Cabbage
  • Radish
  • Turnips
  • Pineapple
  • Lettuce
  • Olive Oil

Q. Can you reverse kidney damage from diabetes?

A. Diabetic kidney disease is caused due to the uncontrolled blood sugar level, resulting in potential kidney damage. Even though it is not possible in every case to reverse the kidney damage, specific tips can help prevent the onset of the condition. For example, a recent study has found that mild kidney damage caused by diabetes is reversible with the implications of following an active lifestyle and healthy diet plan.

Q. What should you not drink for your kidneys?

A. According to a recent study, drinking carbonated sodas and certain energy drinks regularly can affect your kidney and increase the risk of chronic kidney disease. In addition, the substances found in these drinks can cause kidney stones. Consuming alcohol also affects the ability of the kidney to filter the blood. Instead, you can choose beverages with low sugar and phosphorous content and drink more water to maintain your kidney health.

Q. Can kidneys repair themselves?

A. It is generally believed that damaged kidneys cannot repair unless the condition is diagnosed and treated at the earliest. You cannot reverse damage caused by chronic kidney disease. At the same time, you can change the acute condition with promoted treatment, regular monitoring, diet modifications, and proper medications. Contrary to long-standing beliefs in medical history, a recent study reported that kidney cells regenerate and rejuvenate themselves.

Q. Is chocolate bad for kidneys?

A. A study has found that consuming cocoa, which is present in chocolate, will increase the sugar level in the body and might indirectly affect kidney function. Nonetheless, it also has high potassium and other minerals concentration that will proactively damage the kidneys if an individual is in an advanced stage.

 Q. Is peanut butter bad for kidneys?

A. According to a study, peanuts contain oxalates, a mineral that can induce the development of kidney stones. Therefore, even though peanuts are heart-healthy and rich in protein, people with kidney disease should not consume them. It is due to their high potassium and phosphorus content.

Serving two tablespoons of Peanut butter has many healthy nutrients, including 190 calories, 7 grams of protein, 180 g of potassium, and 100 mg of Phosphorus. However, suppose it is crunchy peanut butter. In that case, it will have 240 mg of potassium and 107 mg of Phosphorus, which can further damage your kidneys.

Q. What can I eat for breakfast with kidney disease?

A. Planning for breakfast is quite a challenging task for a person with chronic kidney disease. You should restrict the number of nutrients, including potassium, sodium, phosphorus, protein, and fluid, and have high-energy meals to meet your body’s daily demands. 

When consumed in moderation, it is safe to opt for egg whites, apple, guava, pear, grapes, green peas, and pineapple for your breakfast.

Q. How can I repair my kidneys naturally?

A. If you have chronic kidney disease, you should take utmost care of what you eat or drink since they can cause potential damage to the organ. Following some natural remedies and a balanced diet can help you repair your kidneys and stay healthy. However, complete repair of your kidneys once kidney disease has started isn’t really possible.

About the Author

M.Sc in: Dietetics and Applied Nutrition from Manipal University. Worked: All over India and have been involved in helping set up nutrition departments in start ups. Interested in lifestyle based nutrition. Mantra: A healthy lifestyle isn't a choice to be made or discarded, it's a way of life!

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