Kidney health and hydration

Kidney health and hydration

By Anthony Hartcher, BHSc (Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine) Student

Kidney disease affects 1 in 10 Australians and is reported by the World Health Organisation to be the ‘most neglected chronic disease’. Kidney disease affects one in ten Australians. In 2015 there were 1.2 million deaths related to kidney failure worldwide, up 32% from 2005.

So, what is driving this growing global health epidemic? Some of the main contributing factors of Kidney disease are an unhealthy lifestyle choices such as; smoking, alcohol, poor diet, lack of hydration and exercise.

What our kidneys do for us

Responsible for filtering metabolic waste products such as urea from our blood; regulating our blood pressure; activation of vitamin D; and stimulate the production of new blood cells.  Our kidneys are considered a vital organ we cannot live without them, so let’s look after them.

How we can support our kidneys

For kidney health, the number one and easy to manage priority is to stay hydrated. Health experts recommended consuming 35ml of water per kg of body weight daily. As an example, a person who weighs 70kg should consume 2,500 ml*.

Working alongside water to support hydration is your electrolyte balance. Electrolytes are minerals that support hydration status, movement of water into and out of our cells and assist with the regulation of blood pressure. Our main electrolytes are sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium.

The western diet is generally higher in sodium so it is generally recommended to focus more on the later three minerals. Plant-based sources of electrolytes, as listed below, have the added benefit of added fibre and other plant-based nutrients into your diet.

Top 3 plant sources of each key electrolyte, Whitbread & House (2019)

  Fruit Vegetable Grain/nut/seed
Magnesium Passionfruit Spinach Buckwheat
Calcium Grapefruit juice Spinach Sesame seeds (Tahini)
Potassium Avocado Tomato puree Coconut water                                                                                                                                               

Other supportive factors for healthy kidneys are

  • Reducing alcohol consumption to a maximum of 8 standard drinks per week
  • Reduce the consumption of processed foods and high GI foods eg. lollies, refined sugars
  • Regular exercise, aim for a total of 140 minutes per week or approximately 20mins per day

Implementing protective factors daily such as; staying hydrated, regular exercise, increasing consumption of plant-based foods, reducing alcohol and sugar intake reduces risks associated with Kidney disease.

* This range is a general health guide to hydration. Hydration needs will vary depending upon your individual rate of perspiration, age, temperature/humidity, medications, recreational drug use, amount of exercise and electrolyte status. An indicative measure of hydration status is the colour of your urine. A well-hydrated colour is a pale yellow / clear colour. If you are concerned about your hydration status, please consult your registered health care provider.


Derbyshire, E. (2015). Hydration and Kidney HealthHydration and Kidney Health.

Luyckx, V. A., Tonelli, M., & Stanifer, J. W. (2018). The global burden of kidney disease and the sustainable development goals. Bulletin of the World Health Organization96(6), 414–422C.

Whitbread, D., & House, P. (2019). Retrieved February 26, 2019, from

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