Consuming a balanced diet with plenty of nutrients is important for everyone. However, people with compromised kidney function need to pay special attention to their diets. There are certain foods which are especially beneficial for people with kidney disease. Making the appropriate food choices can reduce the workload on the kidneys and prevent further progression of kidney disease.
Protein is good, but not too much While protein is essential for your body, an excessive amount of it increases the strain on the kidneys. You can try eating foods with lower protein content to help decrease serum creatinine and improve kidney function. Make it a point to substitute high-protein foods such as meat, eggs and milk products with lower-protein options such as grains, vegetables and fruits.
Although most people follow low-carbohydrate diets to lose weight, these compounds provide energy which the body needs to function properly. Those suffering from
kidney diseases need a boost in their energy levels with simple and complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates include whole-grain breads, brown rice and certain
vegetables. Good, simple carbohydrates are found in fruits as well. Avoid products that contain refined sugar, such as cakes, pies, cookies, candies and pastries.
Track your sodium intake Keeping track of your sodium intake is vital for people with kidney dysfunction. People facing kidney problems often face issues such as fluid retention and swelling. Stay away from foods that are high in sodium, including potato chips, cheese, canned vegetables, canned soups, frozen dinners and table salt.
Check your phosphorus intake Phosphorus keeps your teeth, bones, muscles and nerves in good condition. Healthy kidneys help regulate the level of phosphorus in your blood. If you are suffering from kidney problems, you will probably also have high phosphorus levels in your blood. Too much phosphorus decreases the level of calcium in your blood, which can lead to bone disease. Try to include low-phosphorus foods, such as pasta, barley chapatis, rice noodles, white bread and fruits such as cherries, peach, pineapple and strawberries. Avoid high phosphorous foods like nuts, seeds, milk, milk products and dals.
Watch the potassium Kidneys maintain the level of potassium in the body and when kidneys are not functioning properly they can no longer remove excess potassium. Stay away from foods such as bananas, chocolates, tomatoes, dates, beans, mangoes and papayas, as they contain high levels of potassium. Low-potassium alternatives include apples, watermelons, pears, cucumbers, grapes, cherries and strawberries. Potassium is abundant in most foods, so the only way you can reduce it in the diet is by leaching it out from the vegetables. You can do this by cutting the vegetables into very small pieces and soaking them in warm water (the quantity should be 10 times the amount of vegetables to be leached) for at least two hours. Wash them again and cook in water (nearly five times the amount of vegetables to be leached), and throw out that water. This way, the food cooked will be lower in potassium content and suitable for kidney patients.
(Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and the founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre.)