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Fluids intake with one kidney

Posts: 4
Joined: Jun 2011

After kidney removal, the surgeon recommended to me the following dietary changes:
1. Moderate sodium/salt intake
2. Moderate protein intake
3. Drink 3 liters of water per day

I've easily adjusted to the sodium and protein moderation, but it's the 3 liters of water that's the challenge. In the past I didn't come close to three liters, which maybe contributed to my kidney problem in the first place. Making it easier to down three liters, I've been using some sugar-free powder drink mixes, which taste pretty good. (ice tea, lemonade, etc) I'm probably drinking about 1 liter fresh water and 2 liters of these drink mixes each day.

Has anyone's physician or dietician commented on the healthiness of these sugar-free powder drink mixes? Can any of the man-made artificiality in these mixes have long term adversity to folks with a solitary kidney? The product label I'm reading shows six colorings, two sugar substitutes, and other difficult to pronounce ingredients. I've scheduled an appointment with a registered dietician, but not for another four weeks. Any insight would be appreciated.


ejneary's picture
Posts: 64
Joined: Mar 2010

My Nephrologist indicated that I should be aware of things that are toxic to the kidney such as NO NSAIDS!!! Other than that, I have transitioned away from soda. I haven't had a coke in a LONG time and I used to drink these every day. I now opt for tea (Unsweetened) and add lemon or orange or whatever to it. I do drink the crystal light tea as the flavor is good but like you said, it has stuff in it that is not all natural.

I don't think I worry so much about food colorings as it is everywhere. I worry more about sugar and phosphoric acid than anything else. Pretty much all dark sodas I have given up. I now do the Hansens natural soda once in a while but never really had much guidance from either the nephrologist or the dietician regarding what to stay away from as far as liquids.

I am scheduled to attend a cancer support class on eating so I will ask the question and give feedback here. I know, we are all hyper aware of all of this now and the answers are not easy to find. You end up in the heated arguements of diet versus diet and there isn't much definitive on cancer, diet and the single kidney. Sounds like a bad movie title.

rae_rae's picture
Posts: 300
Joined: Oct 2010

I was never told to avoid anything, not even NSAIDS. I found out here I shouldn't be taking them (four months post op, and let me tell you I had taken a lot in those four months). I am curious as I have read a few other posts stating no colas- why? I am a salt-a-holic and crave protein more than anything so it's hard for me to cut back on either. I do drink more water than anything else (personal choice) and choose not to drink or limit it to just one if I do drink (again personal choice). I will be interested to hear what and why when it comes to nutrition and having one kidney.

ejneary's picture
Posts: 64
Joined: Mar 2010

There is some evidence that high levels of phosphoric acid can damage kidneys. Two sodas per day can be the trigger. I was a pepsi-a-holic for many years and that might have been the trigger for me. I have been drinking colas since I was a kid and even got to 4-5 a day in college. In recent years, I have cut way back but the damage might have already been done.

Additionally, I found that the only thing that really helped muscle pain was ibuprofen so I used that too whenever I did strenuous work such as in the backyard or under the car (Which is my hobby)...

Protein is a tough thing to give up but if you really examine the limits (1KG/KG/day), you will see that you can still enjoy a reasonable amount of protein in your diet without going crazy. Yeah, that huge steak might be out but cut it in half and eat light in protein throughout the day to get to that steak reward for dinner. Makes it more fulfilling...

As far as salt, I too was a salt fiend but found, rather quickly, that if you just stop salting things (Pepper is good too), your taste for salt quickly gets modified. I actually had a fast food burger with fries and they salted the fries. I almost couldn't eat them because they were overwhelmed with salt and it tasted bad!!! I would have chowed them down previously.

As time goes by, the new way of eating does get easier and you find yourself automatically calculating the protein and sodium in your head as you eat. It is difficult with sodium since EVERYTHING has a ton in it. You have to be careful.


donna_lee's picture
Posts: 923
Joined: Feb 2009

I may not be the most experienced voice in the batch, but 3 liters does seem like a lot. Were you under hydrating prior to surgery, and the Dr. was hoping you might come to a happy medium?
I've only had 1 kidney since 2006, and I think the suggestion was have adequate fluid intake. Water, coffee & 1 refill, fruit juice sometimes. There is water in most vegetables and fruits that also count toward daily fluids. Even before the cancer dx, I only had maybe one soda or carbonated drink a week, so there was no great sacrifice to limit drinking soda.
I keep a mug of water on my desk at work.
My guide is to hydrate throughout the day, and if I feel thirsty, to drink a glass of water. And of course, in hotter weather or when working in the yard, I let my body be my guide.

If you feel the need to share info with your Dr., tell him you seem to get enough fluid without drinking a measured 3 liters, and see if he responds.

Good wishes and healthy body to you.

Rosie5511's picture
Posts: 8
Joined: Sep 2013

I have been living with only one Kidney for 2 years now and I am learning what to eat and not eat and how much liquids I should have.  I find that when I dont drink enough water I just dont feel good, my skin is itchy and dry, when I do drink plenty of water 2 to 3 liters I feel great.  My skin feels soft I have a clear mind and can concentrate pretty easily, and not to mention my bathroom duties are just excellent, no constipation. I am not tempted to drink cola or juice and I loved COKE.  I take a 2 liter bottle of water and place it on my desk, I drink it during the day as I work.  At home I have bottled water on the kitchen counter and on my night table, I make sure I have water available to drink at all times.  When I go out I carry in my purse a bottle of water.  My GFR results have improved dramatically each an every time I get tested and I atribute it to water and diet.  It is now a habit in my life it is part of my everyday. 

Footstomper's picture
Posts: 1238
Joined: Dec 2014

I was feeling a bit ropey until I read your post. Then I upped my water intake to 3 Imperial pints. Instantly felt a lot better

Posts: 337
Joined: Nov 2014


My doctor is pretty easy-going with the limitations, probably because I am younger.  I specifically asked him about the limitations at my first follow-up and here's (paraphrasing) what he told me:

Water: As much as you can stand; up to a gallon.  "If you're not peeing every few hours, you're not drinking enough."  Haha.  

NSAIDs: I can take them, but they start to worry if I'm taking the maximum dosage for a long period of time.  Taking one here and there isn't really a problem, but obviously you want to stick to acetaminophen as much as possible.  NSAIDs are metabolized by the kidneys and as such do put some extra strain on them/it.  But as he told me, "What else are you gonna take?"

Diet: He has been interestingly vague on this.  He basically told me to "eat healthy."  It's almost as if he's Bones from a Star Trek: "Dammit, Jim, I'm a DOCTOR, not a dietician..."  One can find no shortage of healthy diets online, but the general rules of eating a balanced and healthy diet applies to EVERYBODY, and that's what he's really talking about.  Just stick with that, MODERATION, and you will be ok.  

As far as the powder mixes, I'm not really sure.  I'm with you; I think I'm doing good with the eating but I still like my iced teas, juices... too much sugar.  My wife just read an article last night of a guy who went into kidney failure because he drank over a gallon of iced black tea A DAY and apparently black tea has something in it that can cause kidney stones.  

We very, very..... VERY much want to AVOID kidney stones with one kidney.  VERY!

- Jay 

Ree_Maryland's picture
Posts: 158
Joined: May 2014

My Kindey Dr told me to stay away from ASPERTAMINE (msp)    and drink lots of water and watch the sodium and protein intake. hope all goes well .Dr told me to take caltrate with vitim d in it . also only tynol but not to often if i have pain. no over the counter drugs either,

I do have a cup of coffe with cream once a day 

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