As kids, we were often made to understand the importance of having a balanced diet. But, somehow pizza is more delicious than bottle gourd right? How ironic! Well, as kids no matter how much junk we ate, it somehow never had ill effects until unless the food item in itself was contaminated. This also applies to any healthy adult. But unfortunately, this cannot be applied to kidney disease patients. Why?
Well let’s start from the basics. Kidneys are two bean-shaped organs which are mainly responsible for processing all the waste material that is generated in an individual.
Now, try and imagine what would happen if both your kidneys stop working? The last resort is often going for dialysis. But let us first understand what happens to a human body when the kidneys stop working before moving on to the specific diet that kidney patients should stick to.
After we consume food, the body further breaks it down & converts it to provide energy as well as self repair itself. Via this process, the two main and the most prevalent waste materials known as Urea and Creatinine along with others are produced to be thrown out. It is the job of our kidneys to remove all this waste material with them functioning as highly effective filters while returning vitamins, amino acids, glucose, hormones, and other important components to the circulation.The kidneys are flooded with blood, which is filtered by highly specialized blood arteries. The filtered fluid is then regulated by a complicated sequence of urine-disposing tubes known as tubules.
The three P’s- What to avoid and what to indulge in?
If you have problems with your kidneys, you may have been advised to change your diet so that it contains less potassium, phosphorus and protein. All of these can be found in every healthy individual as each have their own advantages. However in a kidney failure patient, these 3 minerals will for sure have an adverse effect. Even though we see that protein is made inside our body, phosphorus and potassium enter an individual through the food they consume. For a chronic kidney disease patient, because the kidneys are not filtering the excess waste, it becomes important to manually keep the levels of these minerals in a moderate level.
Often, the very first thing any doctor advises a kidney failure patient to follow is a strict diet, so that the kidneys are not put under unwanted pressure and stress. This is one of the most important steps for any kidney patient who wants to make sure that the level of kidney functioning does not decrease.
It is actually essential for healthy growth and the body uses it to build muscles and even repair them whenever needed. This is the very reason that bodybuilders consume items like meat, chicken, fish, eggs, milk as they are extremely rich in protein. After the body digests the protein, it produces urea as a waste product and because this urea cannot be effectively filtered by the kidneys, it ends up getting accumulated in the body itself.
With fewer filters working in your kidneys, it becomes extremely difficult to flush out the extra protein as with being produced in the body naturally, there is an excess intake; making the levels shoot up. Therefore it becomes essential for a kidney patient to regulate the protein intake depending upon the stage he or she is suffering from.
|Dairy ( Milk, Cheese, Cream, Eggs)||Greek Yogurt|
|Fruit juices||Mint Tea|
A mineral by nature, it can be found in almost all the food items we consume in a day. With being an electrolyte, it plays an essential part in muscle movement throughout the body. Do not make the mistake of underestimating the importance of muscle movement as your heart is completely made of muscles. Under a scenario where an imbalance of this mineral is caused in the body, it can lead to a heart attack in the worst case scenario. As the same protein logic applies here as well, whenever the kidneys are on a low functioning, it becomes difficult for them to filter out the extra potassium in the body which then accumulates causing irregular heartbeat.
|Sweet Potato||Cream Cheese|
|Green Leafy Vegetables ( Spinach, Brussels Sprouts)||Cauliflower|
A mineral present in your bones and teeth which works closely with calcium to keep the structure of bones robust. While over 85 percent of phosphorus is contained in the bones, some of it may also be found in tissues, where it helps the body store and utilize energy as needed. Keeping in mind the same logic, in a kidney failure patient, it becomes difficult for the waste to get filtered out.
An increase in the level of phosphorus is extremely harmful as it tends to replace the calcium in the bones making them susceptible to breaking even at the slightest of injury. Therefore it is a common sight to see kidney patients consuming phosphorus binders as well as calcium and vitamin D supplements to keep their bones healthy.
|Cheese spreading||Rice Cereals|
A few more suggestions for kidney disease patients to keep in mind in terms of food items.
With a kidney failure patient, somehow everything turns around and comes to what they eat. Because at different stages the functioning of the kidney is different, it becomes essential for any doctor to monitor every food item that is put in the body. Even the smallest of items like Salt is regulated very closely as it increases the levels of Sodium in a kidney failure patient. Being an electrolyte, it is the responsibility of sodium to maintain the water levels in an individual while also making sure that the blood pressure doesn’t fluctuate.
Whenever the kidneys start to lose their functioning, the sodium levels automatically rise as it becomes difficult for a kidney patient to filter out the excess sodium that they might be consuming. Therefore items like Salt seasonings, processed foods (canned, fast foods, TV Dinners) as well as cured food items (Olives, pickles,bacon) should be strictly avoided by an individual who is suffering from kidney disease. Also do not get fooled by reading salt free labels as most of the time, such products contain high amounts of potassium which is equally harmful for a kidney disease patient. Instead switch to unsalted popcorn, processed cheese slices, fresh roast beef, fresh seasoning as well as salt free soup bases.
Another thing that a kidney patient needs to be very careful with are spices in their meals and fluids with their meals. With the kidneys not functioning properly, indulging in spicy foods can lead to health complications. An individual should not consume red & green chillies, hot spices, mango powder, black pepper as they can lead to digestion issues as well as raise the level of acid formation in the body. Instead kidney patients can switch to turmeric, Cumin, rock salt as well as Asafoetida.
As for fluids in a kidney patient, it depends on numerous variables like the climate that the patient is living in as well as his or her skin type. It becomes essential for a kidney patient to limit the amount of fluid intake because of the poor kidney functioning as excess fluid intake could lead to shortness of breath as well as swelling. Therefore it is advisable not to intake more than 100ml of liquid at one go. Also a lot of fruits and vegetables normally contain water and therefore a kidney patient should be careful in that aspect as well.
For a kidney patient, living a healthy lifestyle becomes the most important part of his or her daily life. Maintaining their weight, having the right amount of calories, taking care of blood pressure as well as sugar levels regularly are all ways in which the kidneys are kept safe from all the damaging factors. But more than this, the recovery completely depends on how true the patient is towards keeping up with the diet as well as his or her life choices. At SRIAAS, we always tell our patients that the road to recovery starts from within. It becomes highly essential to regulate whatever you put inside your body to maintain the kidney functioning as well as to save the remaining functions of the kidney.