What is the renal diet?
In short, the renal diet is a specialized diet that people with kidney or renal problems are either recommended to follow, or required to follow in order to keep your kidneys healthy and functioning.
However, the renal diet is more than just a diet. It is a commitment to change your entire life style and eating habits.
As I write this article, I can’t help but to empathize with you, the reader. How devastating it would be if you have just come home from a visit to the doctor and he or she has told you to go on the renal diet because of a concern of your kidneys. Or maybe you’ve lived with kidney problems for weeks, months or even years. In either case, the intent of this article is to explain exactly what a renal diet is and the crucial role it plays in staying as healthy as possible while living with kidney disease.
Kidney disease, is a serious condition. If your kidneys don’t preform their required functions, you become severely ill. However, maintaining a proper diet can help dramatically.
Staying away from particular foods can help, yet many people are accustomed to these certain foods and find it difficult to quit eating them. A complete change in diet is hard. For anyone. What makes this diet different than, lets say, a diet used to lose weight for example, is that a failure to follow it can be extremely dangerous. Poor food choices can inherently cause even more damage to your kidneys, which in turn leads to total renal failure and premature death.
All is not lost, however. Although kidney disease can be viewed as a major, life changing set back, following and sticking-to a renal diet can make your kidney disease manageable. With proper care and a proper diet, you can make a difference, hopefully allowing you to live as healthy and as normal as possible.
Here are some tips, recommendations and foods you should eat (and stay away from) while you are on a renal diet:
- If you have kidney damage, you should keep your blood pressure below 130/80. One of the best ways to control your pressure is to limit salt ingestion to under a quarter of a teaspoon a day.
- You also have to limit your fluid intake as extra salt and fluid in your body increases the amount of fluid in your blood vessels and raises the blood pressure.
- Diseased kidneys are unable to remove fluids and waste from your body and you will get very ill. Keep track of how much fluid you consume in a day. Fill a measured container with water or whatever fluid you want so you will know how much you drank. You may suck on ice cubes and eat a Popsicle, but keep track of that too.
- Your physician may tell you to exercise at least thirty minutes a day in order to lower your blood pressure and lose weight, however recent research suggests that the benefits of physical activity might not apply to patients with chronic kidney disease.
- Most of our consumed salt comes from processed and restaurant foods. Other countries such as the United Kingdom have implemented a salt reduction campaign. In the United States, in my opinion, food processors and restaurant owners must do the same. Watch out for processed foods and food you order in restaurants.
- Choosing the renal diet, means you must balance your food intake and your electrolyte levels, especially those of calcium, phosphorus, sodium and potassium.
- Your diet should consist of mostly fruits, vegetables and grains. But, you must choose the right ones. Fruits and vegetables are high in potassium so pick apples, peaches, watermelon, grapes, cherries, berries, pineapple, plums and tangerines. Limit oranges and orange juice, nectarines, raisins or other dried fruit, bananas, kiwis, cantaloupe, honeydew and prunes as they are high in potassium.
- For vegetables eat the cruciferous ones: cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, as well as eggplant, green and wax beans, lettuce, peppers, onions, zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, celery, watercress, and lettuce. Avoid avocado, cooked spinach, asparagus, potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkin, winter squash and tomato products.
- Do not use salt substitutes as they contain potassium. Damaged kidneys are unable to rid your body of excess potassium. Too much potassium will cause dangerous heart rhythms, weakness, muscle fatigue and paralysis. True hyperkalemia (too high potassium) is a potentially life-threatening disorder.
- I say true hyperkalemia, as the method of drawing blood may rupture the red blood cells and they will release their potassium into the blood serum elevating the potassium reading while the potassium level in the body is normal.
- Ask your dietitian and doctor to help you with choices for the renal diet. Avoid excess alcohol consumption, caffeine and cigarette smoking.
- Sodium is a necessary mineral for controlling muscle contractions and controlling blood pressure. Healthy kidneys can rid the body of excess sodium, unhealthy kidneys allow fluid accumulation. Your eyes, hands, feet and ankles might swell.
- Really limit your consumption of table salt, bouillon cubes, potato chips, canned vegetable, processed foods, salted nuts, bacon, cheese, and cold cuts.
- Choose low fat dairy products. Calcium and phosphorous levels in your blood will be closely monitored. High phosphorous levels may cause low calcium and your body will draw the needed calcium from your bones and they will become brittle and easily broken.
- Foods high in phosphorus include, cola drinks, beer, ice cream, cheese, nuts and peanut butter. You may have sherbet, nondairy whipped toppings, non-cola soda and hard candy.
- Americans are used to a high meat and dairy fat diet. You must switch to a grain-based vegetarian diet to hold down weight, protein and phosphorus levels. Beans are a wonderful substitute for meat and poultry. Vegetables and grains also provide protein.
- Fats are allowed in the renal diet. The good ones, that is. Use olive oil, canola oil or safflower oil to lower your risk of heart problems.
- Although not proven, following a variant of the renal diet may also help prevent a person from getting kidney disease if it runs in the family, as a recent medical investigation has linked genetics as a cause of renal afflictions.
Remember to enlist the aid of your doctor, nurse and dietitian to help with the renal diet. Some dietitians are kidney disease specialized.
You can see that this diet is a carefully balanced regime of the right foods and electrolytes. Read more about a specialized renal diet tailored for people with kidney problems. Copyright secured by Digiprove © 2011-2013