What Kind of Diet Should You Follow if You Have Nephrotic syndrome?

Nephrotic Syndrome

Nephrotic syndrome is a kind of kidney disorder caused by the damage of blood vessels responsible for filtering out waste and excess water from the body. It is a condition that causes the body to pass excess protein in your urine. It’s a kidney disorder that can affect both adults and children. However, the kidney damage caused by nephrotic syndrome can be treated with proper diet and timely medical attention.

What is Nephrotic Syndrome?

Nephrotic syndrome is characterized by :

  • Proteinuria – Presence of high levels of protein in the urine
  • Hypoalbuminemia – Low protein levels in the blood due to passing out of the same through urine.
  • Edema – Causes your legs, feet or ankles to swell. Lack of protein content in the blood causes fluid to leak out into the tissues causing them to expand.
  • High Cholesterol Levels – Low protein content in the blood stimulates the body to produce excess amounts of certain body fats.

Symptoms of Nephrotic Syndrome

  • Foamy urine.
  • Swelling of your feet, legs, ankles, and sometimes even hands and face.
  • High blood pressure or cholesterol.
  • Fatigue.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Feeling full at all times.

How Diet Affects Nephrotic Syndrome

Diet plays an important role in treating nephrotic syndrome. Ask your dietitian to make a proper diet chart for you with low sodium content.

A low-sodium diet can prevent fluid retention in your body. Your dietitian will decide how much salt you should consume. You should limit sodium intake to 400 milligrams per meal. You should check the sodium content of any food before consuming it.

You should eat more fresh vegetables cooked in coconut or olive oil. Homemade food is preferred because restaurant food may be high in sodium content.

Keep track of the protein you consume every day. You are recommended to consume 1 gm per kilogram of your body weight’s protein in one day. Excessive protein intake is harmful in kidney disorder.


Without timely treatment and proper diet, nephrotic syndrome can lead to the following complications:

  • Blood clots because of loss of protein.
  • High blood pressure
  • High triglycerides and cholesterol
  • Meningitis and pneumonia because of the loss of infection-fighting proteins called immunoglobulins.
  • Kidney damage because of renal insufficiency.
  • Loss of excessive protein can lead to malnutrition.

Risk Factors

Some factors that are known to increase the risk of nephrotic syndrome are as follows:

● An underlying medical condition that can damage the kidneys.

● If you are suffering from certain conditions like lupus, amyloidosis, and diabetes, your chances of having nephrotic syndrome may increase.

● If you take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and medicines to fight infections regularly, you are at a greater risk.

Infections such as Hepatitis B and C, Malaria, HIV, and untreated strep infection in children  raises the chance of contracting the nephrotic syndrome.

If you are experiencing any symptoms mentioned above, do consult a doctor.


● A urinalysis can reveal abnormalities in your urine, such as large amounts of protein.

● A blood test can show low levels of the protein albumin and often decreased levels of blood protein overall.

● Kidney biopsy


The medicines used to treat nephrotic syndrome are the following:

  • Diuretics (water pills) like Spironolactone and Furosemide.
  • Anticoagulants (blood thinners) like Warfarin and Heparin.
  • Statins (cholesterol-reducing medications) like Atorvastatin.
  • Immune system suppressants like Corticosteroids.
  • Blood pressure medicines to control loss of protein.


Nephrotic syndrome can worsen with a sodium-rich and protein-rich diet. You must maintain a proper diet that can prevent swelling. To control swelling, you need to reduce your fluid intake per day.

Low cholesterol and a low-fat diet can help you manage high cholesterol and triglycerides. Although nephrotic syndrome leads to loss of protein, do not consume excessive protein.

Diet Tips for Nephrotic Syndrome

Foods to eat on a nephrotic syndrome diet:

A nephrotic diet should be low on sodium content and protein. A high protein diet can cause renal insufficiency. The following food items are recommended.   

  • Vegetables and fruits.
  • Freshly cut lean meat. Do not eat processed meat as the sodium content is high.
  • Milk and yogurt.
  • Plain bread, rice, and cereals.
  • Unsalted snacks.
  • Whole grains
  • Tofu
  • Butter or margarine
  • Dried beans

Foods to avoid on a nephrotic syndrome diet

  • High-sodium meats like ham, bacon, bologna, sausage, and hot dogs.
  • Canned meats and other food items high in sodium content.
  • Salted bread.
  • Processed cheese.
  • Salted potato chips and other snacks.
  • Pickled vegetables.
  • Seasonings with high sodium content like soy sauce and bouillon cubes.
  • Dried pasta and rice mixes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How Is Nephrotic Syndrome Diagnosed?

There are various methods for diagnosis which includes –

  • Urinalysis which determines the protein content in the urine.
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate estimates the kidney functions by comparing the urine protein levels with the blood creatinine levels.
  • CT Scan or Renal Ultrasound to have a deeper analysis of the kidneys.
  • Kidney Biopsy is effective in examining a small portion of the kidney under the microscope.

2. Which Is The Best Treatment For Nephrotic Syndrome?

A kidney specialist will be better able to monitor your kidney’s functioning and suggest the best possible treatment if you are diagnosed to have nephrotic syndrome.

3. Is Nephrotic Syndrome Curable?

Recovering from nephrotic syndrome can vary from patient to patient. It depends on what’s causing it or as well as your overall health. However, other conditions can eventually lead to kidney failure, even after treatment. If kidney failure happens, dialysis and possibly a kidney transplant will be required.

4. What Triggers Nephrotic Syndrome?

Certain medical conditions and diseases such as lupus, diabetes, reflux nephropathy, and amyloidosis increase this syndrome’s risk. Also, infections such as Hepatitis B and C, malaria and HIV can trigger such problems.

5. What Food Should Be Avoided During Nephrotic Syndrome?

If you have nephrotic syndrome, you should avoid processed or high-sodium items like salted potato chips, salted bread, popcorn, pickles etc. Protein and fats should also be regulated.