What care should you take if you have kidney failure

Kidney failure occurs when the kidneys lose their ability to remove waste and balance fluids.

Here we review when this condition occurs, what its causes and symptoms are, how to treat it, and what to do to prevent it.

What is kidney failure?

Kidney failure is temporary or permanent damage to the kidneys that makes it difficult or impossible to remove waste and balance fluids in the body.

Different diseases and conditions can favor the development of kidney failure:

  • Being hospitalized, especially in intensive care.
  • Be of age.
  • Suffer direct damage to the kidneys.
  • Have diabetes, liver or kidney disease, heart failure, high blood pressure, or cancer.

The main symptoms of kidney failure include:

  • Soft spot.
  • Disorientation
  • Decreased volume of urine excreted.
  • Chest pain.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Fatigue.
  • Nausea.
  • Fluid retention (which results in swelling of the legs, ankles or feet).
  • Irregular heart rhythm.
  • In adverse cases, seizures or coma may occur.

Diet for kidney failure

A healthy diet is essential to keep the levels of electrolytes, fluids and minerals in balance, prevent tissue breakdown and facilitate kidney function.

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When organizing a diet, you must determine how to obtain energy from the main nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.


Carbohydrates are divided into two large groups: simple and complex. The former are often called “bad” because they are quickly absorbed and provide immediate energy, while the latter are considered “good” because they take time to be absorbed.

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However, many nutritionists explain that this categorization is not correct, since both are necessary for a balanced diet.


We tend to attribute negative connotations to fats, but in reality they are a great source of energy and help the body absorb vitamins.

A good way to take advantage of its benefits and avoid its consequences is to opt for healthy variants, such as extra virgin olive oil, canola, safflower or coconut.


They can be obtained from animal or vegetable sources, although the former are of higher quality thanks to their rich level of essential amino acids.

Watch out: Excess protein has been linked to the progression of kidney disease, so it is advised to reduce daily consumption to 100 g.

Consult a nutritionist to put together your diet and get that energy from other nutrients, such as carbohydrates or fats.

Minerals to watch out for

  • Potassium: This mineral is usually recognized as beneficial, since it acts as a vasodilator. However, in excess it can affect the heart rhythm and worsen the condition of patients with kidney failure. Moderate your potassium intake by decreasing your intake of foods such as bananas, spinach, or avocados.
  • Sodium: Salt is a great enemy for people with kidney failure, as it can cause fluid retention. Limit its use when cooking and pay close attention to the labels of the products you buy to know their sodium content.
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What to eat and what to avoid

In addition to limiting your protein intake, find out about the nutritional facts of the foods you eat by consulting their labels.

Processed, refined, fried or sugary foods can have detrimental effects on your health, especially if you have kidney failure.

  • incorporates: fruits, such as berries, plums, apples, pears, pineapple, watermelon, or grapes, lean meat, and vegetables, such as celery, eggplant, broccoli, squash, lettuce, bell peppers, or carrots.
  • avoid or limit: sugary or energy drinks, high-sodium products, sugary cereals, processed meat, such as sausage or bacon, canned, jerky, dried, canned, and meat-based preparations or sauces, fruits such as oranges or kiwis, and vegetables , such as asparagus, potatoes, or tomatoes and their sauces.


Although in the initial phases of renal failure it is not necessary to carry out an exhaustive control of the liquid that we incorporate, if the disease worsens it will be necessary to monitor it. This can accumulate in the body, and, for example, make it difficult to breathe.

Professionals recommend using smaller glasses or cups to control fluid intake, and to take into account the fruits and vegetables rich in water that we consume.


If you suffer from kidney failure, it is necessary to consult a health professional or nutritionist to make a diagnosis and determine which foods are best for you to obtain essential nutrients.

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Remember, there is no universal diet for kidney failure, since each organism is different and is influenced by different factors.

other tips

A good way to live with kidney failure is by taking the following care:

  • medical checkups: monitor your kidney problems and consult your doctor if you have any worrying symptoms. It is also important to monitor other conditions that can promote or worsen kidney failure, such as diabetes or hypertension.
  • Beware of over-the-counter pain relievers: In excess, these drugs can cause kidney damage, or aggravate pre-existing kidney disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure.
  • Healthy life style: In addition to taking care of your diet, a better way to cope with kidney failure is to incorporate other healthy habits that help keep the body strong, such as exercising daily, sleeping correctly at regular times, and keeping stress away or under control.
  • To remind:

    Until there is meaningful scientific evidence from human trials, people interested in using herbal therapies and supplements should be very careful.

    Do not abandon or modify your medications or treatments, talk to your doctor first about the potential effects of alternative or complementary therapies.

    Remember, the medicinal properties of herbs and supplements can also interact with prescription drugs, other herbs and supplements, and even alter your diet.

    Sources consulted: US National Library of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, US Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

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