Foods to avoid with kidney disease

by Ahsan Sohail
Foods to avoid with kidney disease

What foods to avoid with kidney disease? The person with chronic renal failure should follow a personalized diet according to the criteria recommended by the nephrologist to preserve residual renal function, prevent complications, and delay the start of dialysis.

Recent regulations from the National Institute of Health, translated from those of the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE), state that a slowdown in CRI (chronic renal insufficiency) with a low-protein diet is possible.

The reduction of glomerular filtrate (index representing the purifying capacity of the kidney) is associated with alterations in the elimination of various metabolic products by the kidneys (molecules such as urea, organic and inorganic acids, etc.) and of micronutrients introduced with the ‘power (phosphorus, sodium, potassium, etc.).

At an intermediate stage of CRI, metabolic acidosis, hyperparathyroidism, hyperkalemia, and hypophosphorous appear, which are associated with hypertension, dyslipidemia, proteinuria, and alterations in calcium-phosphorus metabolism.

As a result of clinical and metabolic complications, there is an increased cardiovascular risk. From this, it is clear that you must take nutrition into high consideration in the overall therapeutic strategy.

Therapeutic diet treatment.

The diet therapeutic treatment must avoid an excessive load of proteins and, at the same time, ensure an adequate nutritional intake. It is possible through a low protein diet and a balanced intake of water, sodium, potassium and phosphorus, acid radicals, and an adequate protein intake.

The nephrologist, the nutritionist, and the dietician with skills in nephrological dietetics are the specialists to refer to implement a dietary intervention. It will first establish the patient’s eating habits and then prepare a food plan as adapted as possible to the tastes, the needs of work, and the relationship life of the same.

Dietary restrictions, especially those of the hyperproteic type, must be applied gradually and progressively, taking into account the stage of the disease. As is known, chronic kidney disease has different degrees of severity.

Therefore, the diet must be personalized and correlated to the different levels of renal insufficiency, formulated in a way to guarantee the supply of the necessary nutritional substances and avoid a decrease in body weight. If managed by a properly trained professional, a diet with a very low protein intake in the advanced stages of the disease and protracted overtime does not cause malnutrition or other metabolic complications.

There is no scientific evidence regarding when it is more appropriate to start a nutritional diet therapy during CRI. Still, given the metabolic alterations and cardiovascular risk factors that occur at even intermediate stages of the disease, the same constitutes a fundamental part of conservative treatment.

Nutrition to avoid chronic kidney disease.

In the case of chronic kidney disease, no specific diet is indicated for the disease. Your doctor will advise you on dietary recommendations based on how kidney function changes during illness. Your doctor will assess whether you are getting enough nutrients and calories from your food based on blood tests. As chronic kidney disease progresses, certain substances (such as potassium) may accumulate in the body.

In the case of chronic kidney disease, it is essential to eat well and to observe the amount of food and its diversity. All this will help the kidneys to better cope with their function. Monitoring your diet with your healthcare provider and changing it appropriately will help protect your kidneys and prevent the development of chronic kidney disease.

Determine your healthy weight range and try to keep your weight within it. You can calculate the healthy weight interval using the body mass index (BMI) formula (a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the person’s height squared in meters). It is better to discuss additionally with your doctor how valid the obtained values ​​are for you.

1.  Body mass index:

  • Up to 19 – insufficient body weight
  • 19-24.9 – normal weight
  • 25-29.9 – overweight
  • More than 30 – obesity

If you are excessively losing weight, your doctor may recommend special nutritional supplements. If the body weight is too heavy, it puts a lot of stress on the kidneys. In this case, you must confer with your doctor about precisely how you can slowly reduce weight without it being unsafe for your health.

If your body weight is increasing too quickly, be sure to inform your doctor about it. A sudden increase in body weight accompanied by swelling, breathing problems, and an increase in blood pressure might indicate that too much fluid is accumulating in your body.

2.  Sodium.

Sodium is a mineral that assists in regulating the exchange of fluid between blood and tissues in the body, the function of the nervous system, and maintains an acid-base balance. Excess sodium affects the volume of fluid in the body and can cause an increase in blood pressure along with swelling in the legs. In the case of chronic kidney disease, dietary sodium should be limited.

Sodium is found in extraordinary amounts of salt as well as in foods that have added salt. Most of the salt is present in ready-made sauces (such as soy sauce), in prepared foods (canned soups, canned food, dry soups, broths), in seasonings (garlic or onion salt), in processed foods (for example, ham, bacon, sausages, smoked fish), salty snacks, salted nuts, potato chips, and biscuits, and the majority of instant foods.

Some tips for reducing salt intake:

  • Always buy fresh food and cook it yourself, at home.
  • Choose foods with less salt. Do not use more than one pinch of salt when cooking food.
  • Avoid adding salt to meals.
  • Use fresh or dried herbs and spices, lemon juice, and aromatic vinegar when adding seasonings.
  • Do not use salt substitutes unless recommended by your doctor. Most salt alternatives are high in potassium.
  • Try not to eat fast food and ready-made foods, as they contain a lot of hidden salt.
  • Read labels carefully to choose foods with less salt.

3.  Protein.

Protein is essential for normal muscle and tissue function, wound healing, and infection. Proteins can be of both vegetable and animal origin. Both types of protein are necessary for daily activities. Sources of animal protein include, for example, eggs, fish, chicken, red meat, dairy products, and cheese. Sources of plant proteins are vegetables and grains, legumes, and nuts.

In the case of chronic kidney disease, consuming too much or too little protein can worsen your health. A balanced protein intake will help you reduce both the burden on the kidneys and the content of metabolic end products in the blood, thus slowing the progression of the disease.

At the same time, protein foods cannot be entirely excluded from the diet, as a protein-free diet can ground weakness, exhaustion, and malnutrition. Your doctor will help you define how much protein your food should contain based on your kidney function.

If your diet has a limited protein content due to chronic kidney disease, it can significantly reduce the source of calories.

In this case, you must receive the missing calories from other sources which do not contain protein. For example, you can increase your carbohydrate consumption or add vegetable fats to your diet.

Some tips for a smart protein intake:

  • You need to know how much protein you can consume in one day.
  • Research which foods contain protein and choose the most suitable for you.
  • Try to eat a small amount of protein at a time.

4.  Potassium.

Potassium is an essential mineral that helps muscles, nerves, and the heart function properly. Too high or too low amounts of potassium in the blood can be dangerous to the body. Usually, the kidneys remove the excess potassium from the body. As chronic kidney disease progresses, blood potassium levels begin to rise because the kidneys can no longer remove excess potassium from the body.

The potassium level in the blood is checked regularly with a blood test. Your doctor may propose potassium substitutes if your blood potassium is excessively low.

If the potassium content is too high, medications are necessary to balance the potassium level in the blood. Dietary changes can successfully regulate the potassium content in the body.

If you must limit your intake of foods containing potassium, then:

  • Research which foods contain the most and least potassium and make healthy choices.
  • Read labels carefully to select potassium chloride-free foods.

5.  Phosphorus and Calcium.

It is a mineral that plays a significant part in the functioning of cells, regulating muscle work, the brain and nervous system activity, and forming teeth and bones. We can obtain it primarily from animal products. Healthy kidneys excrete excess phosphate from the body, but in the case of chronic kidney disease in advanced stages, the kidneys may not cope with this task.

Calcium is a mineral that is central for the formation of the whole, healthy bones and teeth, blood clotting, and the functioning of the heart and nerves. Several foods that are decent sources of calcium often contain high amounts of phosphorus.

If the phosphorus content in the blood is too high, then the calcium content decreases, and calcium is washed out of the bones. Calcium begins to mount up in the blood vessels, joints, muscles, and the heart – where it should not normally be.

In order to prevent calcium leaching from the bones and reduce the level of phosphate in the blood, you need to limit the consumption of foods that are high in phosphorus (for example, peas, cereals, beans, dairy products, nuts, seeds, Coca-Cola etc.).

Your doctor may prescribe medications for you called phosphorus binders. You must take these medicines with meals according to the frequency prescribed by the doctor. The drug binds phosphorus in such a way that it cannot enter the bloodstream.

  • Phosphorus is present in some packaged foods. To avoid consuming excess phosphorus, be sure to read the label.

6.  Fluid intake.

Fluid intake is usually not restricted for mild to moderate chronic kidney disease. Talk with your doctor or nurse about how much fluid you should be drinking. If you feel that fluid starts to accumulate in your body and your legs swell, be sure to inform your doctor. In case kidney disease progresses more and more, limiting the daily amount of consuming water may be necessary.

Your doctor might suggest you a limited fluid intake, then:

  • Specify the maximum amount of liquid you can consume per day. Start each day by filling the jug with the permitted amount of water. If you drink tea or coffee during the day, pour a suitable amount of liquid from the jug. If there is no water in the jug, it shows that you have already used the given liquid limit.
  • Always remember that many solid foods also contain liquid. It is also essential to consider the liquid in soups to calculate the consumed liquid.
  • Try to choose healthy drinks. Control the calcium, sugar, and phosphorus content of your drinks.
  • If you sometimes eat canned food, then take into account the liquid from canned food in calculating the daily limit or drain excess liquid from the can before eating.

How to take care of your kidneys?

There are billions of people suffering from kidney diseases, and for millions of them, there is the nightmare of dialysis. Widespread problems can be avoided by following these ten tips:

1)  Mediterranean cuisine.

As often happens, prevention starts from the table, from good and healthy nutrition. For example, to protect the kidneys, one must not overdo it with the habit of eating pasta (which also serves the activity of the kidneys like all cereals) with excessive seasoning. Don’t overdo it with cheeses, dairy products, and red meat too. On the contrary, you have to abound with fruit and vegetables.

2)  Make way for legumes.

There are legumes among the main allies of the kidneys at the table. Lentils, chickpeas, and beans are precious for guaranteeing kidney function, thanks to the abundance of mineral salts, vitamins, and proteins they contain. The advice of specialists who treat kidney disease is to eat legumes regularly once a week.  

3)  Consider protein-free foods.

Proteins of animal origin, for example, those present in meat, cheese, fish, and eggs, must be assimilated in moderation. It is preferable to include “protein-free” foods in the diet, such as bread, biscuits, flour, and rice specially produced without proteins and are also available in the supermarket.

4)  Limit the salt.

Eating too salty foods such as sausages does not help the kidneys due to the sodium. For this cause, it is advisable to pay attention to the doses used and the foods we eat. The cooking cube and pickled foods, while tasty, are rich in sodium. So, it is good to consume them occasionally.

5)  Pay attention to the waistline.

Obesity is the primary risk aspect for the kidneys. Too elaborate foods are often also high in calories, and their regular consumption can make us put on a few extra pounds. To avoid being overweight, it is necessary to follow a balanced diet that allows you to be normal weight, avoiding the risk of straining the kidneys and putting on extra pounds.

6)  Check regularly.

Even in the case of kidney problems, the proverb “Prevention is better than cure” applies. No special visits are necessary. Simple blood and urine tests are enough, accompanied by those that determine the level of creatinine, a substance produced by muscle metabolism. Normally it is completely disposed of by the kidneys while it is present in massive doses in the blood of those with kidney problems.

7)  Always consume fruit and vegetables.

Following a vegetarian diet can help but is not mandatory. Various types of vegetables and fruits are good for the kidneys. Potatoes, onions, strawberries, blueberries, and celery are essential for their functioning. They provide the body with substances that are useful for naturally cleaning the kidneys and expelling waste substances.

8)  Drink fruit juices and herbal teas.

To prevent kidney problems, the golden rule is to drink water regularly. In addition to water, we can consume natural fruit juices such as blueberry juices, rich in quinine, a substance that favors the expulsion of toxins. Herbal teas with nettle, ginger, and bearberry are also particularly suitable for detoxifying the kidneys.

9)  Don’t take too many medicines.

If not strictly necessary, it is best to avoid taking multiple medications. They increase the work on the kidneys, and in the case of inflammation, they can even be toxic.

10)  Avoid sugary or alcoholic drinks.

Drinking regularly is essential for kidney activity, but you need to be careful when it comes to alcohol or too many sugary drinks. They accelerate the body’s production of calcium, with the risk of kidney stones forming.

Prevention for healthy kidneys: Folk tips.

There is an opinion that eating a large watermelon can clean the kidneys. We do not doubt the diuretic properties of watermelon, but we remind you that whatever process you are using to cleanse the body, make sure to carry it out systematically.

So, if you choose to cleanse the kidneys at home, you need to groom the body three days before the procedure. First, give up smoking, alcohol, spicy, sweet, fatty, and salty. The menu these days should be as light as possible: vegetable salads, boiled fish, porridge in the water, and fruits.

Secondly, you ought to drink plenty of fluids. Drinks contain water, green tea, unsweetened dried fruit compote and freshly squeezed juice.

Third, meals and drinks must be regular. It is superlative to use fractional meals, dividing the daily diet into 5-6 servings. The last meal has to be 3-4 hours before bedtime.

Folk cleaning methods.

After preparation, you can employ one of the proven folk cleaning approaches:

  • Watermelon pulp is eaten from 4 pm to 8 pm. Do not take any other food at this time. After taking a watermelon, you need to take a moderately hot bath. It stimulates the urinary system and promotes the gentle excretion of toxins.
  • Rosehip infusion. Dry fruits (6 tablespoons) are pounded in a blender, placed in a flask, and poured with two glasses of boiling water. The infusion is for 12 hours. In the morning, drink one glass on an empty stomach, and the second – at night, before bedtime. The course is held for 14 days.
  • Lingonberries and cranberries. These berries are natural antibiotics and have a mild diuretic effect. Split three kilograms of fresh berries into servings for a 15-day course. Eat 200 grams daily and get a vitamin boost with clean kidneys. Of course, it is necessary to limit the use of fried, salty, and sweet foods during the course. Create your own boiled fish and chicken menu, including light side dishes, vegetable dishes, and fruit sorbets.

In conclusion, we recall that attention to one’s body is part of the culture of a modern person. Take care of your health, do disease prevention, choose natural products and lead an active lifestyle. Be healthy!

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