Renal Disease (Kidney Failure)
One of the goals of treating people with impaired kidney function is to reduce the workload placed on the kidneys. A diet high in protein puts a strain on the kidneys by making them work harder. Over time, the increased work load can cause the kidneys to fail sooner. As the kidneys work less effectively, it is difficult for the them to excrete waste products. How much you restrict protein in your diet depends on the advice of your doctor and should be done with help from a nutritionist.
There are two general kinds of proteins in the diet: "high quality" ones contain some or all of the essential amino acids our bodies need to survive; "low quality" proteins do not contain these essential amino acids. If you are on a protein-restricted diet, you should eat as much "high quality" protein as possible. This kind of protein is found in meat, milk (skim and low-fat as well as whole), eggs, poultry and fish. "Low quality" proteins are proteins from plants.
If you do restrict your protein intake, you should make up the difference of your calorie count equally between carbohydrates and fats. To fulfill the balance of your calorie needs with carbohydrates alone, you would have to eat an unusually large volume of food. The carbohydrates you should eat to make up the calorie difference for a reduction in protein are complex carbohydrates: pastas, beans and grains. The added fat in your diet should come from monounsaturated fats (canola oil, olive oil, avocados and peanut oil.)
Part of the function of the kidneys is to regulate how much water your body excretes. If you have high blood pressure or any kidney damage, you should restrict sodium intake. High sodium intake contributes to high blood pressure, which is a major reason for kidneys to fail more quickly. High-sodium foods include table salt, sodas, bacon, lunch meats, pickled or brined foods, olives, hot dogs, salty snack foods like potato chips and catsup. As kidney failure worsens, swelling may occur, and you may need to restrict your water intake.
If your kidney problems progress or you take certain types of medications, potassium retention may also present a problem. Very high potassium levels are extremely dangerous and can cause the heart to stop beating. Some common potassium rich foods include bananas, dried fruits, molasses, beef, pork, sardines, wheat, bran, poultry, soybeans and raw vegetables.
Magnesium levels also need to be monitored in people with impaired kidney function. If your kidneys cannot excrete magnesium normally, you may decrease magnesium consumption by eating fewer nuts, wheat germ, whole grains, legumes, dark green leafy vegetables and chocolate. Avoiding antacids and laxatives with magnesium will also help reduce your intake.
Phosphorous is another mineral retained in the blood with kidney failure. High phosphorous levels can cause problems with the bones and possibly contribute to calcium deposits in the blood vessels. High phosphorous foods include dairy products, meats, fish, whole grains, dried beans, chocolate and carbonated colas.
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