Kidney disease diet: Nutritious foods for kidney health
By: Jasmine Marfatia
Published On: November 13, 2018
This article will cover some useful tips to improve your diet if you are suffering from a kidney disease.
The kidneys are responsible for several functions in the body, including filtering out toxins, maintaining electrolyte balance, purifying the blood, regulating blood pressure, stimulating production of red blood cells and white blood cells, and maintaining calcium in the bones. So it’s safe to say that suffering from a kidney disease can greatly interfere with the regular functioning of the body, while also spiraling into other health problems as a result of a damaged kidney.
Some of the most commonly seen symptoms of kidney disease include extreme tiredness, edema or swelling, itchy skin, foamy urine, insomnia, and bad breath. If you experience any of these symptoms over a period of time, it may be a good idea to pay a visit to a doctor who will be able to correctly diagnose the problem and help you get treated for it. Medical treatment for kidney disease may include medications, dialysis, or even a kidney transplant in severe cases. Aside from the physical pain of the disease, the financial implications too can be quite burdening for those who can’t afford the cost of such treatments. For such people, medical crowdfunding is an ideal solution to monetary constraints that may prevent them from getting quality treatment for kidney disease.
Besides getting medical treatment for kidney disease, food and nutrition plays an important role in slowing down the progression of the disease, as well as in managing the symptoms associated to it. However, there are a few types of kidney disease, and each of them have a different nutritional approach towards alleviating it.
In this article, we’ll cover some of the most common kidney conditions, and provide some foods to improve kidney function.
Nephrotic syndrome refers to the damage of nephrons in the kidney, that work as a filtration system, to remove toxins. It is characterized by high cholesterol, high blood lipids, and low blood albumin (due to loss in urine). The diagnosis is to be done by a medical professional, who may ask you to run a GFR test to understand the degree of damage.
Nutritional goals for nephrotic syndrome
The main goal of nutrition therapy for nephrotic syndrome is to manage the symptoms of the disease, slow down the progression of nephron damage, and maintain a healthy nutritional status for the patient. Below are the dietary guidelines to be followed:
Protein intake - Protein is to be maintained at 0.8 gms per kg of body weight. Protein intake is restricted for kidney patients as the kidney is unable to flush of the toxins like creatinine produced from it. It is also important to avoid protein malnutrition, as well as maintain serum albumin level. The protein intake should come from high quality and lean sources. It is best to avoid red meat, organ meat, and shellfish. Lean chicken, fish, eggs, and low fat dairy, are the best options for high biological value proteins.
Calories consumption - Daily calorie intake is to be assumed at 35-50 kcal per kg of body weight (depending on the BMI of the individual). This calorie range in recommended for adults to maintain energy levels. Majority of the calorie intake should come from carbohydrates, as it will provide energy, as well as prevent breakdown of proteins for energy. Good sources of complex carbohydrates include grains like wheat, rice, oats, barley, and millet. Fibrous vegetables, and root vegetables like potatoes with skin. That said, fruits need to be consumed with care, depending on the patients potassium levels. Fruits that have been considered safe (in prescribed quantities) for kidney patients are the GAP3 fruits - guava, apple, papaya, pear, and pineapple.
Fat intake - Since kidney patients typically have high cholesterol and blood lipids, daily fat intake is to be calculated as less than 30% of total calorie intake. Fats must come from good quality sources like nuts, seeds, avocados. Hydrogenated fats like margerie, vanaspati, and other packaged processed foods are to be avoided.
Sodium intake - Daily sodium intake is to be limited to no more that 1-4 gms of salt i.e ½ tsp per day. Low sodium salt will help to prevent edema, swelling, and bloating. Since the taste of food can be compromised due to very less salt used in cooking, you can attempt to cook your food with flavours like lemon, tamarind, amchur, green chillies, and kokum, so make your food tasty. Soak your fruits, vegetables, and pulses in water for 1 hour, then drain the water and use the vegetables and fruits. This process is called leeching, and reduces the sodium and potassium content in the foods.
Fluid intake - Overall fluid intake should be not more than 1-1.5 litre per day. You can keep check by filling a 1 litre bottle every morning, and consuming from it the entire day without refilling. This also include tea, dal, buttermilk, juice and other liquids. Therefore it is preferred that kidney patients avoid tea, coffee and juices. Whole pulse and preferred over thin dals, to manage fluid intake.
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Nephrolithiasis is a condition that we normally call ‘kidney stones’. It is caused by the supersaturation of urine with a mineral that may have crystallized to form a stone. These are usually formed in the renal tubules but get deposited in the ureter and bladder, and can cause severe pain. Nephrolithiasis can be caused by calcium stones, uric acid stones, oxalate stones, struvite stones, or cystine stones.
Nutritional goals for nephrolithiasis
Protein intake is to be considered at 0.8 gms per kg of body weight.
Fluid intake is to be increased to at least 3 litres a day, especially at night to avoid supersaturation of a mineral.
Calcium levels are to be monitored and regulated to avoid bone demineralization.
Foods to eat: Lots of fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates like grains and root vegetables, and fluids.
Foods to avoid: Alcohol, red meat, organ meat, shellfish, tea, coffee, chocolate, cola, spinach, mushrooms, custard apple and chikoo fruit.
Nutrition during dialysis treatment
For patients with chronic kidney disease that has advanced to a stage where dialysis is necessary, the nutritional approach may be a bit different.
Protein intake - Protein intake can be increased to about 1.2 - 1.5 gms per kg of body weight.
Calorie intake - Calories are reduced marginally to about 25-30 kcal per kg body weight because some amount of calories are absorbed from the peritoneal dialysis solution as well. This does not apply for haemodialysis.
Fat intake - Fat intake will continue to remain between 25-30% of daily calories.
Carbohydrates - The remaining calories must come from complex carbohydrates.
Fluid quantity, sodium quantity, and potassium are to be individualized based on the patient medical status.
These nutritional recommendation, and based on general principals, but they are to be individualized based on each patient and his/ her symptoms. You doctor/ nutritionist is the best person to advise you on treatment/ dietary changes to manage a kidney disease.
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