Best Drinks for CKD

What are the best drinks for CKD? You may even be wondering why are we concerned about drinks fluids or drinks with CKD.

Well the kidneys play a role in removing extra fluid from our body. And if your kidneys are not working properly, extra fluid can build up around the body, like in the ankles, eyes, hands or lungs. This causes the heart to have to work harder and can increase our blood pressure and cause heart failure. Drinking too little or too much is not good with CKD.

So let’s look at some of the best drinks for CKD.

What are fluids?

Because the kidney play a role in fluid regulation, making sure we are drinking the right amount is important. But before we can talk about how much we should be drinking. We need to understand what a fluid is.

So what exactly is a fluid?

Fluid is a liquid or any food that turns into a liquid at room temperature. Some examples of fluids are:

  • Water, milk, juice, tea, coffee, alcohol, soup, sauces, gravies and pop are all fluids. 
  • Ice cubes, jello or gelatin desserts, ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet, popsicles are also fluids as they melt into liquid at room temperature.
  • Fruits and vegetables naturally contain water. If consumed in moderation, fruits and vegetables should not contribute large volumes of water to your daily total intake of fluids.

How much should I drink with CKD?

In early stages of kidney disease, it is important to drink enough, and fluids are not generally restricted. A good target is to try to get to around 8 glasses per day to help keep the kidneys working well. But normal thirst should guide or fluid intake. What this means is do not push the fluids, but rather drink when you are thirsty. Your doctor or dietitian may give you a different fluid target depending on your activity level and health conditions.

As kidney disease progresses to later stages – like stage 3, 4 or 5 – you may need to limit the amount of fluid you consume to prevent edema or fluid retention in your body. Some signs of fluid retention include swelling in feet/ankles and difficulty breathing. It is important to seek medical attention if you experience any of these. 

What if I need a fluid restriction?

When you are on dialysis, you may find your kidneys are not able to make your normal amount of urine. At this time, you will need to control the amount of fluid you drink. The amount you can have will be based on the amount of urine you make.

The weight you gain between each dialysis treatment is called water weight. You should try not to gain more than 2.0 to 2.5 kilograms of water weight between each dialysis treatment.

You may also be asked to follow a fluid restriction if you have excessive swelling in your body. It is important to follow your doctor or dietitian’s recommendations for a fluid restriction.

Keeping track of your fluids can help manage your fluid intake. Here are some tips:

  • Measure the volume of your favourite cup or bottle and use this to keep track of how much you’ve been drinking
  • Try drinking from a small cup
  • Spread your fluids out throughout the day over your meals and snacks
  • Drink only when thirsty
  • If possible take your medications at mealtimes when you have fluids or use applesauce
  • Use sugar free hard candies or lemon wedges to help manage dry mouth. The sour taste helps to quench your thirst.
  • Brush your teeth often to keep your mouth moist
  • Control your blood sugars, high blood sugars can make you thirsty
  • Limit sodium, too much salt can make you thirsty

How do you measure fluids?

Here are some common measurements of fluid:

1 oz = 30 mL
½ cup = 4 oz = 125 mL
1 cup = 8 oz = 250 mL
1 Litre = 4 cups = 32 oz = 1000 mL

Best Drinks for CKD

Here are my top drink choices for CKD:

  • Water is the beverage of choice. You can flavour water with lemon, lime or fresh fruit or herbs to improve the taste. Carbonated water is also a great option if you like something bubbly. Try PC Blue Menu Sparkling Water, Bubly, La Croix, Perrier are all great options.
  • Tea and coffee can be consumed with CKD, it is important to limit to only a few cups per day because too much coffee or tea can increase blood pressure. But something else to note is that some teas may interact with medications or the kidneys filtration. Generally teas like black, mint, rooibos, ginger or green tea are safe. Remember that what you add to your coffee and tea is also important. Aim to avoid phosphate additivies and sugar sources.
  • Milk or other non-dairy beverages can be including in a kidney-friendly diet. Check out this post to help you choose the best milk for CKD
  • Smoothies are a great way of adding in some flavour and nutrients to our diet. If you’re looking for some great kidney-friendly smoothies, check out this post.  Choose low potassium fruit and veggies if needed.

With CKD, there are some drinks we want to limit:

  1. Limiting sugar sweetened beverages like pop or juice is important, because they can these cause high blood sugars and high cholesterol and inflammation in the body. Controlling blood sugar and cholesterol helps to preserve kidney function.
  2. Alcohol is another thing we want to limit. When it comes to drinking alcohol, moderation is the key because it can impair our judgment, increase our blood pressure, and lead to progression of kidney disease. It is important to speak with your doctor before drinking alcohol as it may interact with some medications. 

Does today’s article speak to you?

Staying hydrated with CKD is important, and there are lots of tasty drinks that are good for the kidneys.

If you are looking for support for staying hydrated or managing your fluid intake connect with Emily here.

Want to learn more about Emily? Learn more here.

Published by Emily Campbell, RD CDE MScFN

Emily Campbell, RD CDE MScFN is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She specializes in renal nutrition helping those with chronic kidney disease. Emily holds a Master's degree in Foods and Nutrition and is a co-chair of the Southern Ontario Canadian Association of Nephrology Dietitians.

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