What Should I Eat If I Have Kidney Disease?
If you suffer from kidney disease, you need to watch what you eat. If you aren’t careful, you could weaken or damage your kidneys. Conversely, adopting a healthy diet can slow down the progression of your kidney disease. A kidney-healthy lifestyle has two basic elements: a healthy diet and a proper balance of minerals.
A Healthy Diet
Everyone should eat well, regardless of their health situation. However, a proper diet is essential for people who suffer from kidney disease. Remember these key points:
1. Calories: Your body needs energy from food and drink to function properly. This energy is measured in calories. However, “more is better,” doesn’t apply to your energy intake. Ask your physician to recommend a daily calorie maximum for your height, weight, and fitness level. Count your calories each day and keep reaching for this goal!
2. Protein: Protein is essential to good health. However, consuming too much protein can put unnecessary strain on your kidneys. To avoid further damage to your kidneys, moderate your consumption of meat, poultry, eggs, and fish. Fruits and vegetables also have protein, but not as much as animal products.
3. Carbohydrates: Your easily converts carbohydrates to energy. However, not all sources of carbohydrates are healthy. Fruits and vegetables are good sources of carbohydrates, but not sugary snacks, sweets, and beverages. Also, watch out for carbohydrates with high levels potassium and phosphorus.
4. Fats: Fats have a bad reputation, but you actually need them to stay healthy. Of course, consuming too many fats contributes to obesity and heart disease. Avoid saturated fats from butter or meat, especially in large quantities. However, unsaturated fats (such as olive oil) can actually reduce your cholesterol levels.
A proper balance of these minerals can help you avoid kidney damage:
1. Salt: Consume a moderate amount of salt. Salt helps maintain your body’s fluid balance, which is especially important if you suffer from kidney disease.
2. Potassium: This mineral is found in many foods. Potassium is good for your muscles – including your heart. However, too much or too little potassium can cause irregular heart rhythms, muscle cramps, and muscle weakness.
3. Phosphorus and Calcium: Both of these minerals are necessary for strong bones and teeth. However, people with kidney disease often have too much phosphorus in their bodies. Monitor your levels of these minerals – especially phosphorus. Also, ask your doctor if you should take calcium supplements or not.
4. Iron: People with kidney disease often lack iron. Ask your physician about taking iron supplements and consuming iron-rich foods. Iron levels are especially important for those with advanced kidney disease, especially during dialysis.
Aside from maintaining a healthy diet and balancing your mineral levels, you must address a few other concerns:
Hypertension: High blood pressure is always a concern when you have kidney disease. Remember this factor when choosing what to eat.
Diabetes: if your kidney disease is a result of diabetes, you must manage your blood sugar at all times. Watch what you eat very closely – and be sure to take the medications you need.
See Your Dietitian
Knowing what to eat is just a small part of staying healthy. Find a kidney-friendly (“renal”) dietitian who specializes in the unique needs of people with kidney disease. A renal dietitian will create a specific diet plan for you – based on your age, weight, medical history, and other needs. This essential advice can help you prevent the progression of your kidney disease.