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Top 8 Dietary and Lifestyle Changes for Polycystic Kidney Disease

1 Drink Enough Water

  • The amount of water you should drink per day depends on the stage of your kidney disease. A typical goal for CKD stages 1-3 is 3 liters of water per day. Check with your doctor if you are in later stage as your water intake may need to be limited.
  • Get some good hydration bottles that you can carry around with you everywhere. 
  • Drink clean water, NOT sodas or fruit juices or anything with sugar. Some teas and coffee may be OK.

2 Limit Sugar Intake

  • Kidney cysts LOVE sugar. Limit added sugar in: Sodas, juices, candies, pastries, deserts, anything with high fructose corn syrup. Read the food labels.
  • Replace sugar with natural sweeteners such as stevia, monk fruit. Don’t use artificial sweeteners.
  • Limit foods with natural sugar: high-glycemic fruits, fruit juices, honey, syrups.

3 Limit Sodium

  • Choose whole foods instead of highly processed foods with added sodium. Read the food labels.
  • When eating out, choose dishes low in sodium. Cook at home without added salt.
  • Your daily sodium goal depends on your stage of kidney disease and other factors. Ask your doctor. A typical limit is 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day with a more ideal limit of 1,500 mg per day or less.

4 Focus on Plants

  • Most animal foods are acid-forming in the body, make the kidneys work harder, lead to acidic urine and increased risk of damaging crystals and kidney stones.  
  • Swap some animal foods for plant foods to help reduce this burden. You don’t have to become a vegan. Moderate amounts of animal foods are OK and will give you important nutrients that are difficult to obtain from plants.

5 Consider Low-Carb Foods and Ketosis

  • Kidney cysts LOVE sugar, and high-carb diets likely worsen the progression of PKD.
  • Lower your levels of blood sugar and insulin, and your risk of obesity and diabetes by considering the following diet and lifestyle changes:
    • Time-restricted eating: eat only during an 8-hour window every day (e.g., 11 am to 7pm).
    • Switch to a very low carbohydrate, high fat, moderate protein “ketogenic diet”. Fiber is OK! Even though fiber is counted as “carbohydrate” on food labels, it is OK to eat as much fiber as you’d like.

6 Avoid Processed Foods with Phosphate Additives

  • Phosphates are common food additives in processed foods. Similar to oxalate, phosphate can form damaging crystals in kidneys and lead to kidney stones, and likely worsen PKD.
  • Avoid foods with phosphate additives. Read the ingredient lists of food labels. Avoid anything containing “PHOS” in their name (such as Dicalcium phosphate, Monosodium phosphate, Phosphoric acid and many more).

7 Reduce Oxalate

  • Oxalate is a toxin and waste product excreted by the kidneys. Oxalate can form damaging crystals in kidneys, lead to kidney stones, and likely worsen PKD. Some plant foods are very high in oxalate.
  • Use this table of oxalate contents of food to know what you’re eating: SantaBarbaraNutrients.com/oxalate
  • Replace high-oxalate foods with low-oxalate alternatives. Stay below 100 mg of daily oxalate intake if possible.

8 Consider taking KetoCitra®

  • This medical food supports all of the steps listed above. Ask your healthcare professional if KetoCitra is right for you
    • Provides the ketone BHB to support ketosis.
    • Helps your kidneys to be more resilient against harmful crystals by providing citrate, calcium and magnesium, and helping to normalize urine pH.
    • Contains potassium which may help with managing blood pressure.