Staying well-hydrated is one of the most important things a person can do to protect their kidneys. But sometimes, plain water can be plain boring. In this article, we will discuss good drinks for kidneys, plus ways to spruce up your water so you can protect your kidney health and stay hydrated throughout the day.
Table of Contents
Daily Fluid Goals
Each person will have their own daily fluid goals to achieve. Your dietitian can give you a target fluid goal to aim for.
In general, aiming for approximately 1 – 2 liters of plain water per day can be a good place to start.
Kidney stone sufferers should drink enough fluids to result in 2 to 3 liters of urine volume per day. This can require a 24-hour urine collection, which can be ordered by your doctor.
It’s important to drink consistently throughout the day when working towards your fluid goal.
Going long bouts without any water or beverages, then drinking a large amount, will not be very helpful to your body.
So to increase fluids throughout the day, it can be helpful to change up the drinks you choose.
Let’s dive into some good drinks for kidney patients – starting with our morning go-to.
Coffee is a part of many people’s morning routines. It can also be one of the good drinks for kidneys in your diet.
Coffee provides antioxidants. Antioxidants are very helpful in the prevention of illness and diseases.
It can help protect against cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and congestive heart failure.
However, there is a “cap” on coffee’s benefits.
Limit total caffeine intake to 400 milligrams per day.
This is approximately 3 to 4 cups of black coffee.
Read more about coffee and kidney disease here.
On a cold or hot day, tea can be an comforting drink.
Additionally, tea is easy to find in convenience stores, fast food restaurants, and grocery store checkouts.
Certain teas are good for kidneys, including
- Black tea
- Green tea
- Chamomile tea
- Ginger tea
- Peppermint tea
- White tea
- Chai tea
- Oolong tea
- Hibiscus tea
Some tea products may add other ingredients. These added ingredients are not always advised or safe for kidney patients.
Teas that promote detox, laxative, or diuretic effects are not beneficial for kidney patients and should be avoided.
Certain herbal teas and remedies can be bad for kidneys. They can cause more kidney damage.
Read the labels and choose teas that are simple – just the tea leaves with no added herbs.
Let’s dive into some of these teas that are considered good drinks for kidney patients.
Peppermint tea is naturally caffeine-free tea.
Digestive issues are common for people with kidney disease. Peppermint tea can help with digestion.
Try enjoying peppermint tea after a meal.
You may also find it’s enjoyable in the evening.
Another tea that helps with digestion is ginger tea. Ginger is used to treat nausea. Nausea is a side effect of many medications and dialysis.
Ginger tea with some lemon may be an enjoyable way to start your morning. It has a bright and energetic flavor. It is caffeine-free as well.
So try sipping on ginger tea when you feel nauseous or after a meal. This can help reduce the ill feeling.
Again, be sure your ginger tea does not have added ingredients that are not good for kidneys.
Read more about ginger and kidney disease here.
Many are interested in hibiscus tea as it may help with blood pressure.
Hibiscus tea can be a good drink option for kidney patients. However, research about hibiscus tea and kidney patients is limited.
Hibiscus tea is low in potassium.
Blood pressure support from hibiscus tea has been researched on healthy participants that do not have kidney disease.
There was an animal study looking at hibiscus tea with CKD in rats that showed promise. However, animal studies do not always translate to human results. More research is needed.
Keeping to moderate amounts of 1-2 cups per day, hibiscus tea can be an enjoyable part of a renal diet for kidney patients.
Green tea can be a great beverage to include in your renal diet. It contains polyphenols, including epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG).
EGCG has been researched for kidney-protective effects.
A caffeine-containing tea, green tea should be consumed in moderation and earlier in the day to prevent sleep disturbances.
An 8-oz cup of green tea contains approximately 45 milligrams of caffeine. However, this can vary widely depending on the leaves and brewing time.
Additionally, adding a small amount of milk to tea has been shown to drastically reduce oxalates consumed.
This is because the calcium from milk will bind to the oxalates.
Be careful with bottled green teas as some have added phosphorus and potassium.
Milk can be a good drink for kidneys. However, it’s important to know what to look for.
There are so many different milk options to choose from these days.
To choose kidney-friendly milk, look for:
- no added sugar
- no added phosphates
- appropriate potassium for your needs
Potassium additives are quite common in milk as well. These may need to be avoided if you are on a low potassium diet.
Read more about the different kidney-friendly milk options here.
Smoothies can be a great source of nutrition and energy for those with kidney disease.
They are incredibly versatile and can be modified to meet anyone’s personal preferences and goals.
To make a kidney-friendly smoothie, try this basic template.
Grab the following ingredients:
- 1 cup milk or liquid of choice
- 1 cup frozen fruit
- A handful of chopped greens (such as kale or spinach)
- 1 tablespoon of nut butter or seeds (like almond butter, chia seeds, or ground flaxseed)
Next, add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth!
There are plenty of kidney-friendly fruits and veggies you can add to a smoothie.
If you need to limit potassium, stick to the lower potassium fruit and veggie options.
Learn more about following a low potassium diet here.
While not as filling as smoothies, juices can still fit into a renal diet.
Juice is made from fruit and vegetable liquids. This means juice will not contain the fiber from the fruits or vegetables.
This is why many people are concerned with the sugars in juice – it can require a lot of fruit to make one glass.
People with diabetes may experience higher blood sugar spikes if drinking juice alone.
Juice is a good drink for kidney patients. Just stick to a 4-ounce daily serving.
Here are some juice options you may be able to enjoy while sticking to a low potassium diet.
Four ounces of fruit juice is equal to one serving of fruit.
|Potassium (mg) in 4 ounces
Be cautious with grapefruit juice
Grapefruit juice should be cleared by your doctor before being added to your diet.
This is because it can interfere with medications, including;
- Atorvastatin (for high cholesterol)
- Nifedipine (for high blood pressure)
- Cyclosporine (for organ transplants)
- Buspirone (for anxiety)
- Budesonide (for Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis)
- Amiodarone (for abnormal heart rhythms)
- Fexofenadine (for allergies)
If you don’t need to limit potassium, adding in some high potassium juices (or smoothies) can be a great way to stay hydrated and add variety to your drinks through the day.
Here are some high potassium juices in 4-ounce servings.
|Potassium (mg) in 4 ounces
|Cherry juice (tart)
If including juice in your day, try sticking to one four-ounce serving daily.
Aim for the other 2-4 servings of fruit to come from whole fruits for the fiber and other nutrients that come with it.
Sparkling water is a great alternative to sodas and sugar-sweetened beverages, which increase the risk of worsening CKD.
Club soda is an example of sparkling water.
It’s simply water that has had carbonation added to it for a bubbly effect.
Look for sparkling water that contains only carbonated water and natural flavors. Some brands may include additives that have potassium, which may not be advised.
Examples of sparkling water brands that are good for kidneys include
- La Croix®
- Good & Gather®
- San Pellegrino®
Be sure to choose sparkling waters that have no added sugar and no added salt.
These are things kidney patients may need to limit, and adding them to beverages will help your kidneys.
Sparkling waters to avoid
Some sparkling waters contain potassium and/or phosphorus additives. Examples include
- Clear American®
- Sparkling Ice®
- Aquafina Flavor Splash®
- Propel Water®
It’s important to read the ingredient list to search for additives.
Potassium and phosphate additives are highly absorbed. Therefore, they can make it difficult to control potassium and phosphorus levels.
Finally, it should be no surprise that plain ol’ water makes for a good kidney drink.
Our bodies and our kidneys need plenty of water to:
- help us with keeping a normal temperature
- provide joint support
- give the kidneys a way to eliminate toxins and wastes
No, you don’t need special alkaline water to get the benefits. There is no evidence that products like alkaline water do anything for our health.
Save your money and invest instead in a good water filter for your sink if water filtration in your home is a concern.
That way, you’ll be using the water you already have available to you at any time.
Don’t forget that there are plenty of ways to add flavor to your water to stay hydrated.
Tips to Increase Water Intake
Drinking plenty of water is key to protecting your kidney function.
Here are some tips to help you drink more water throughout the day.
- Add in a few slices of your favorite fruit with some herbs like basil or mint. Allow to infuse for a couple of hours or overnight before enjoying.
- Pour your self a full pitcher of water overnight to cool in the fridge. When you wake up, you’ll have a visual and physical reminder of the water you should drink throughout the day.
- Set an alarm or reminder on your phone every 1-2 hours to remind yourself to drink water.
- Take a moment in the afternoon to relax with a cup of tea.
- Make a pot of iron water to hydrate and get extra iron.
If you need to limit fluids, be sure to stick to your fluid restriction. Adding in more fluids when it’s not advised can be harmful to your health.
Be careful with grapefruit as it can interact with many medications, including blood pressure and heart medications. Get your doctor’s approval before incorporating grapefruit in any way.
Is coconut water okay for kidney patients?
Many people ask about coconut water and kidney disease. Coconut water is very high in potassium.
An 8-oz serving of coconut water can have 600 milligrams of potassium.
Many coconut water beverages in the market will also contain added sugar, something that should be limited for kidney health.
There are plenty of drinks that are good for the kidneys. Hydrating is an important part of keeping kidneys healthy and filtering. To do this, you may want to have a variety of drinks to keep it from being boring.
Choose water as your primary source of hydration for the day, either flat or sparkling. Just be sure it does not have phosphorus or potassium additives and no added sugar or salt.
Flavor your water to change it up. Try adding fruits like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or apples along with herbs like basil, mint, or rosemary and spices like cinnamon and clove.
Coffee, tea, milk, and juices can also be good drinks for kidney patients so long as their enjoyed in moderation. Stick to no more than 2-3 cups of coffee or tea per day. For juice, limit to 4 ounces per day and enjoy the rest of your fruit servings as whole fruits to get the most of the nutrients in them.
Add in drinks that you truly enjoy. The key is to stay hydrated and feel good with your drink choices.
Jen Hernandez is a registered dietitian and board-certified specialist in renal nutrition. She has nearly a decade of experience with kidney disease patients in all stages - from stage 1 through kidney transplant. Jen writes on the blog of Plant-Powered Kidneys to help reach and teach more kidney patients about how they can enjoy more foods in a plant-based diet while protecting kidney health.