Friday, August 7, 2009

Kidney Diet: An Overview

Nutrition is very important especially when you are dealing with particular health issues. This is the case for a person with kidney disease. Often, when kidney dysfunction is detected, you will be asked to see a dietitian or nutritionist who will prescribe a kidney diet in order to help preserve the remaining kidney function as well as prevent further deterioration to the kidney's health.

One thing I noticed is that not all kidney diets are created equal. Depending on how much kidney function a person has, the kidney diet, also known as the renal diet, will be structured differently.

During the early stages of kidney disease, the goal will be to lessen the stress on damaged organ. The first items doctors will limit will be sodium (salt) and protein.

Protein consumption, which is mostly from meat, chicken, fish and pork, will be decrease to lessen the amount of work the kidney has to do. Lowering sodium intake, on the other hand, is often necessary to keep blood pressure levels at proper levels. For diabetics, sweets and carbohydrates will also have to be controlled.

If the kidney dysfunction is in the later stages, potassium, phosphorus, calcium and fluid intake will likely be monitored also, as the kidney, in its weakened state, isn't able to regulate these levels well anymore.

The diet changes once again when you begin dialysis. I remember this being one of the most difficult things I ever had to adjust to. Due to the numerous restrictions, I often had to refer to my diet cheat sheet that listed the nutritional values of different foods.

i did in-center hemodialysis three times a week, so my diet was a bit stricter than those who did home dialysis (which is done daily) since the artificial kidney was not at work during non-dialysis days. I remember protein was limited to 5 servings a day (a serving is about the size of a match box), while being told to limit fluids to 1 liter a day. One thing that took some getting used to was removing salt totally from what I ate.

Monitoring potassium and phosphorus intake were probably the hardest part of diet preparation.

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