Friday, August 7, 2009

Kidney Diet: What You Can Do

As we've discussed previously, the kidney performs many tasks that keep us in tip-top condition. When kidney disease strikes, the ability of out kidneys to do these functions diminishes. In order to lighten the load on the kidneys, we have to make adjustments to what we eat and how much we eat.

Here are some general steps I was told follow in order to help ease the burden on my kidney when I went on dialysis. I noticed that, though difficult to get used to in the beginning, you get used to it after a while. The one good thing about following these guidelines was they allowed me to feel better overall and enabled me to go about doing what I did before getting sick, like working, playing sports and going out without missing a step.


1. Learn to READ LABELS; very important, even after transplant; you want to avoid sodium and monosodium glutamate (MSG) or limit the amount you have.

2. Avoid processed, brined, or cured products.

3. Don't add salt to food, be it in cooking or at the table. Use other means of seasoning like herbs and spices.

WHY? High amounts of sodium cause blood pressure which harms our hearts and kidneys.
1. You will be referred to a dietitian or nutritionist to guide you on the different food groups and amount of each you are to have per meal.

2. Your dietary regimen will differ from other kidney patients because each person responds differently to kidney disease and its treatment; don't compare with others.

3. Your diet will probably adjusted to get a daily allowance of 0.6-0.75 grams of protein per kilogram of weight, at least until dialysis, when you'll probably be asked to eat more protein.

4. Learn about the different types of protein. I've always been reminded to prefer fish and chicken over pork, and try to limit red meat as much as possible.

WHY? Too much protein will overwork the kidney and increase its rate of deterioration.
1. As a guide, keep daily potassium intake to between 1500-2500 mg. You may be
asked to follow a lower daily limit if your kidneys aren't able to clear potassium well.

2. Know which foods are high in potassium; certain fruits like oranges and bananas are high in potassium

3. Choose low potassium foods like cabbage, lettuce, apples and pears.

WHY? High levels of potassium can cause heart attack or irregular heart beat.
1. Keep phosphorus intake to between 800-1200 mg daily.

2. Avoid colas, beer and soft drinks; drinks with high phosphate content.

3. Know how much dairy you are allowed. These products, like milk and cheese, are high in phosphorus.

4. Avoid nuts, seeds, beans, peas and bran.
WHY? Your kidneys cannot remove phosphorus well. High phosphorus levels cause bones to be weak by pulling calcium out of our bones.
1. I was told to limit fluids to 1 liter a day. You may be asked to limit fluid intake to between a liter and 1.4 liters depending on your center and how much urine your are producing.

2. Remember, soups and foods that are liquid at room temperature, like ice cream and gelatin, count as part of total fluid intake.
WHY? Your kidneys aren't able to completely get rid of the excess fluids in your body. Too much fluids will cause swelling and bloating of different parts of your body, not to mention increase the risk of high blood pressure.
By now you've probably noticed that most of it has something to do with limiting intake. This, to a point is true, however, it is very important that there is balance and not to overdo things. For example, if you limit protein too much you get weak, lose weight which will likely lead to more serious problems like susceptibility to infection.

Make sure that you eat enough so that you won't lose weight and have enough energy, which is just as important as limiting the items we just mentioned.

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