Hydronephrosis & Nutrition

Kidney disorders may occur for a variety of reasons. Hydronephrosis is a type of swelling in one or both kidneys that occurs as the result of another condition, making it a symptom of a disorder or disease, rather than a specific illness. Certain dietary changes may help protect the health of your kidneys and promote optimal kidney function. Talk to your doctor before making any major changes to your diet.


Conditions that block the drainage of urine from your kidneys can cause a backup of fluid that makes your kidneys swell. Conditions commonly associated with this symptom include bladder outlet obstruction, posterior ureteral valves and vesicoureteric reflux. Hydronephrosis may be present at birth or may occur as a result of kidney stones or other conditions that block the flow of urine 2. Hydronephrosis may cause renal insufficiency or kidney damage 2. Making certain dietary changes may help reduce the risk of complications from this disorder.

Renal Diet

Calorie balancing is an important factor in providing adequate energy and preventing the breakdown of body tissues. Healthy carbohydrates, such as:

  • canola oil
  • olive oil
  • can help protect the health of your arteries

The amount of protein you consume depends on whether you require kidney dialysis. Your doctor may recommend a low-protein diet prior to dialysis and a high-protein diet after you start dialysis. Nutritious sources of protein include fish, eggs, pork and poultry. Advanced kidney failure may increase your need for extra iron 1. Kidney beans and beef provide rich sources of dietary iron 1.

Foods to Avoid

Chronic kidney disease may require you to limit your intake of fluids, especially if you take dialysis. A renal diet usually limits the amount of phosphorus in your diet 1. People with poorly functioning kidneys tend to experience elevated levels of phosphorus, a condition known as hyperphosphatemia. Limiting the amount of phosphorus in your diet to 1,000 milligrams may help reduce the risk of this complication 1. Foods that are high in protein generally contain a large amount of phosphorus 1. Substituting cream cheese and cottage cheese for hard cheeses, as well as drinking rice milk instead of regular milk, can help lower your consumption of phosphorus.


Notify your doctor if you notice a change in your normal urinary habits or experience frequent urinary tract infections, especially if you have been diagnosed with hydronephrosis or other renal conditions. Although good nutrition can help support the health of your kidneys, dietary changes won’t take the place of proper medical care.