How much water should you drink with kidney disease?

Published on: 04/23/2024

How much water should you drink with kidney disease?

My passion is helping people with CKD maintain kidney function and STAY OFF DIALYSIS.  So one of the first changes I guide my clients in making is to consume the right amount of fluid based on their calculated needs. 

Water intake plays a vital role in your kidney function. Water is essential for life, but the amount you need when you have CKD is determined on an individual basis. It depends on factors such as your stage of CKD, whether you’re retaining fluid, and other health conditions you may have.  But a general rule of thumb for most people is about ½ fluid ounce for every pound of body weight.  For instance, if you weigh 150 lbs, you would need about 75 fluid ounces of water every day.

If you don’t drink enough water, you may be in a chronic state of mild dehydration.  This can become a significant problem when an acute illness comes your way.  If you’re already mildly dehydrated and become sick, you can easily develop severe dehydration which can lead to acute kidney injury (AKI). Sometimes AKI can be resolved, but often it cannot. For people who already have CKD, an episode of AKI can land them in end stage renal disease and on dialysis or in need of a transplant.

You also don’t want to overconsume fluids because that can interfere with your electrolyte balance. I have known people who have spent time in the ER because they were drinking a gallon of water a day. Some people think that if something is good, more is better, and that is often not the case.

Should you only drink water if you have kidney disease?

Filtered water is the very best thing you can drink. But water can get boring, so here are a few ideas to add some variety to your beverage intake if you so desire. 

Herbal Teas: Many herbal teas, like chamomile, ginger, and peppermint, are caffeine-free and low in phosphorus and potassium. They can be a good choice for adding variety to your fluid intake.

Lemon or Lime Water: Adding a slice of lemon or lime to your water can enhance the flavor and help prevent the formation of kidney stones, create an alkaline atmosphere in the body, and make your water rich in antioxidants which help protect against cellular damage.

Cranberry Juice (in moderation): You can consume cranberry juice in limited quantities, and it may help prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs). However, be cautious about the sugar content and the potential impact on your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes.

Homemade Fruit-Infused Water: You can create your own flavored water by infusing it with slices of fruits like strawberries, cucumber, or citrus fruits. This adds flavor without the need for sugary additives. Just be sure to throw out your fruit at the end of the day as it can grow bacteria and make you sick.

Plant-based milk alternatives such as almond milk, oat milk, coconut milk, cashew milk and rice milk can be used to make fruit smoothies and in hot and cold cereal. Be sure to choose those that are low in added sugars and without phosphate additives.

You can consume clear fruit juices like apple or white grape juice in moderation. Just be mindful that they can affect your blood sugar if you have diabetes.

Homemade Smoothies are a great way to get in more vegetables, fruit, and calories if you’re trying to gain or maintain your weight.  You can also make them low calorie if you’re trying to lose weight.

There are so many lifestyle and dietary changes you can make to maintain kidney function and stay off dialysis, but one of the most important is drinking enough fluids. 

Ready for more guidance?

If you are ready to talk about how I can help you gain clarity in what to eat, overcome food fears, and stay off dialysis, schedule a call or reply to this email. I would love to hear from you!

References:

Kellum, J. (2017, March 15). NIH National Library of Medicine. Pubmed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27635668/

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Meet Heather
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Although I’ve been a dietitian for more than 20 years, it’s the past few years that have convinced me to take control of my own health by changing the way I eat. So many chronic illnesses can be corrected or prevented through good nutrition. I am thankful to have the opportunity to walk with people in my community, Beaufort, SC and beyond, through their own journeys as they reclaim their health.

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