Should people with CKD avoid dairy?

Published on 
January 30, 2023
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Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a progressive condition that affects the kidneys' ability to filter waste and excess fluids from the body. As the disease progresses, the kidneys' function deteriorates, and the body is not able to eliminate waste as effectively as it used to (CKD stages 4 and 5). People with CKD should pay close attention to their diet to ensure that they're not consuming foods that can help keep their kidneys healthy.

One food group that people with CKD think they should avoid is dairy. This could be because dairy products are high in phosphorous, a mineral that is essential for healthy bones and teeth but can be less good for people with CKD. The kidneys play a crucial role in regulating phosphorous levels in the body. As the kidneys' function deteriorates (usually stages 4-5), they are not able to eliminate excess phosphorous, which can lead to high levels of phosphorous in the blood. High phosphorous levels can cause a number of health problems, such as bone disease and heart disease, in people with CKD.

Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, are high in phosphorus and should be carefully controlled if blood phosphate levels are above the normal range. In addition, dairy products are also high in potassium, a mineral that can build up in the blood of people with CKD and cause heart problems. You only need to limit dairy if you have high potassium and phosphate blood levels.  In other situations we do not recommend avoiding dairy products unless you personally want to.  If you swap dairy for plant based alternatives be sure to have those fortified with calcium especially if you are stages CKD 1-4.

It is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a renal dietitian or a nephrologist, to understand whats best to consumed in a CKD-friendly diet.

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Author - Ruth Kander

Ruth Kander is a highly experienced dietitian with 26 years of service in both the NHS and private practice. She holds registrations with the British Dietetic Association and the Health and Care Professions Council. Ruth graduated from King’s College London in 1995 with an honours degree in Nutrition and a post-graduate diploma in Dietetics. Specializing in kidney medicine for the past 23 years, she currently works as a specialist kidney dietitian at a large London teaching hospital. Ruth has also been involved in several community projects, including healthy eating in schools and clinical governance in care homes. An accomplished lecturer, she has received awards for her education programs and patient care. Passionate about helping people with chronic kidney disease to be healthy and feel well, she is dedicated to providing support and guidance to help individuals make the best food choices for themselves.