The normal human body comprises two kidneys, on either side of the spine, just below the rib cage. Kidneys are bean-shaped organs responsible for removing waste products from the body and extra fluid from the blood. The waste products are residues or remains of food and drink we've consumed, after they have been metabolized for energy. In the case of a kidney disease, the body is unable to get rid of waste materials from the body. Since the kidneys are no longer able to discard the body wastes, the right thing to do is prevent the build up of these wastes in the human body. People with a kidney disease need to modify their diet, in order to reduce the chances of further kidney damage. However, the needs of each patient will vary, depending on their size, weight and extent of the disease. It is recommended to consult a renal dietitian before you follow a particular diet plan.
Maintaining a special diet helps reduce the load on the kidneys and also assists in the slowing down of further kidney damage. This diet will depend on the extent of kidney failure or the stage of kidney disease. Generally, the diet recommended for people with kidney a disease includes food items, that are controlled in their protein, potassium, phosphorus and sodium levels. Further, patients also require the right amount of calories to remain healthy. The goal of a special diet is to ensure that people with a kidney disease remain healthy. Fluid restriction is required for some patients, not for all and diabetic patients need to have a diet low on carbohydrates.
The human body requires protein for the building up of muscle tissues, tissue repairs and overall body growth. The body uses protein from food, to carry out all these functions and discards the extra proteins in the form of waste material called urea. However, when the kidney fails to function normally, they are not able to get rid of this urea normally. Therefore, in order to reduce the load on the kidneys, it is essential to limit or control protein intake. Protein is found in two kinds of food. Food products in which they are found in large quantities (from animal sources) include eggs, milk, cheese, meat, seafood and other dairy products. The second type comprises food products that contain protein in smaller amounts (from plant sources) such as cereals, bread, vegetables, fruits and other starches and grains. Eating the right amount of protein is essential for a healthy body; too much or too little can cause problems, therefore it is best to pay heed to the dietitian's advice.
High blood pressure, kidney disease, and salt are interrelated, therefore, reducing the sodium intake is essential for people with a kidney disease. One must make it a habit to read labels on food packages. Avoid purchasing food items that list salt (sodium) or monosodium glutamate (MSG). Further, do not consume processed cheese, canned food, food pickled in brine such as olives, pickles or sauerkraut. Ham, bacon, luncheon meats and all sorts of other smoked food items must be avoided, as they are high in sodium. Also avoid flavoring meals with salt, instead use herbs, lemon, tamarind and other spices to do so.
Potassium is a mineral commonly found in most of the food products we eat. It is necessary for movement of the muscles and health of the nervous system. The level of potassium in the blood is controlled by the kidneys. Potassium levels in the body can build up, leading to a condition called hyperkalemia, which is dangerous for the heart. Hence, it is necessary to limit the intake of potassium rich food items.
High phosphorus levels in the blood result in loss of calcium from the body. This leads to weak and brittle bones, that can snap easily. By consuming food items that are low in phosphorus, the amount of calcium lost can be controlled. The doctor may even prescribe medicines called phosphorus binders or phosphate binders, that keep the phosphorus level in the blood from rising. Phosphorus is found in large quantities in dairy food products such as cheese, milk, puddings, ice cream and so on. They are also found in large amounts in nuts, peanut butter, kidney beans, split beans, etc. Beverages such as soft drinks, cocoa and beer are also high in phosphorus. Therefore, one must avoid the intake of all these products and must use non-dairy creams and various recommended milk substitutes, instead of milk and milk cream.
Calories provide the body with the required amounts of energy to function properly. Since the amount of protein intake is restricted, one can balance the calorie part by consuming increased amounts of unsaturated fats such as oils of soybean, sunflower, corn or cottonseed. Consumption of candy, jelly beans, gum drops, marshmallows, etc. are also food products that can provide the body with the necessary calories. However, this does not apply to those who are diabetic. They have to consult their dietitian regarding their calorie intake.
People with a kidney disease must limit their fluid intake. Not more than 1.4 liters of fluid should be consumed in a day. Also food items that are liquid at room temperature, such as soups, ice creams, etc. must be avoided. Fruits and vegetables high in water content must also be avoided. However, remember to eat your meals at the right time, keeping the above in mind! A specific diet cannot be mentioned here, because depending on your condition, the diet will have to be determined. This means the diet list will vary from one person to another. Consult your dietician for a specific diet plan.