Chronic Kidney Disease: Role of Diet for a Reduction in the Severity of the Disease

Nutrients. 2021 Sep 19;13(9):3277. doi: 10.3390/nu13093277.


Chronic kidney disease affects ~37 million adults in the US, and it is often undiagnosed due to a lack of apparent symptoms in early stages. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) interferes with the body's physiological and biological mechanisms, such as fluid electrolyte and pH balance, blood pressure regulation, excretion of toxins and waste, vitamin D metabolism, and hormonal regulation. Many CKD patients are at risk of hyperkalemia, hyperphosphatemia, chronic metabolic acidosis, bone deterioration, blood pressure abnormalities, and edema. These risks may be minimized, and the disease's progression may be slowed through careful monitoring of protein, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and calcium, relieving symptoms experienced by CKD patients. In this review, the current Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative (KDOQI) recommendations are highlighted, reflecting the 2020 update, including explanations for the pathophysiology behind the recommendations. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, the Mediterranean diet, and the whole foods plant-based diet are currently being examined for their potential role in delaying CKD progression. Biological explanations for why the whole foods plant-based diet may benefit CKD patients compared to diets that include animal products are examined. Strong evidence continues to support the importance of diet meeting the daily requirement in the prevention and progression of kidney disease, and medical nutrition therapy with a registered dietitian is a critical aspect in medical intervention for CKD.

Keywords: chronic kidney disease; diabetes; diet; inflammation; medical nutrition therapy; nutrition; plant-based foods; proteinuria.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diet / methods
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / diet therapy*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / pathology
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / prevention & control
  • Severity of Illness Index