Dairy Substitutes for Kidney Issues

Question: I have kidney disease. I have been told to reduce milk in my diet and have had almond milk or such recommended. There are many choices on the stores shelves. What is your best choice or recommendation?


Thank you for your question. Your health care provider has likely suggested reducing milk in your diet due to its high protein and phosphorus content. The kidneys play an essential role in eliminating waste products from food and the breakdown of body tissue (cell turnover) as well as remove extra water from your body through the production of urine. The kidneys are responsible for the production of some hormones.

Too much of a good thing.  Phosphorus is a mineral which helps keep your bones strong and healthy. When your body is unable to eliminate excess phosphorus you can experience itchy skin, painful joints and loss of calcium from your bones – something your health care provider wants to help you avoid. Moderate to high levels of phosphorus are found in foods like milk, cheese and yogurt, and protein-rich foods like poultry, meat and fish. You need adequate protein and phosphorus, but not too much.  Here is where the help of a Registered Dietitian is key.

One size does not fit all.  Please don’t go at this alone.  There is help.  Please ask your health care provider to refer you to a Registered Dietitian that specializes in kidney disease (called a renal dietitian) that can review your health history, provide dietary recommendations and create a delicious and nutritious meal plan that suits your individual needs.  As many people who have kidney disease also have diabetes and/or heart disease, becomes even more important to follow the right diet to help preserve the kidney function you have.

To answer your question… unenriched rice milk is a good alternative.  Check labels to be sure! Brands like Rice Dream (Classic), Natur-a Rice (Vanilla), Almond Breeze (Vanilla), Silk True Almond (Vanilla and Chocolate) – of course, the unsweetened varieties are going to be best, especially if you are watching your sugar intake.  If you are super adventurous, you can even buy a rice milk maker!  Stay away from soy milk and coconut milk as they have higher levels of phosphorus than their rice and almond counterparts.

We at Pomme wish you all the best.  Again, thank you for your question.

Health science changes quickly.  The information contained in this material should not be misconstrued as medical advice.  Always consult with your doctor or trusted health provider to determine what is best for you.