Where a kidney disease diet is concerned, it may seem like life is out to get you. What were formerly your favorite foods and beverages will now be fond memories. Adapting to a whole new lifestyle, including diet changes for kidney disease, is a necessity you’ll learn to cope with.
For all kidney patients in general, the basic notions of low sodium, low phosphorus, low protein are well-known. A much greater need for fluid intake (preferably water) will also be crucial to flush out toxins. There are, however, eating plans for kidney disease that can be pro-active rather than taking the “Thou-shalt-not” attitude.
1. Omega-3 fatty acids–this anti-inflammatory nutrient can do a lot for reducing the pain and infections associated with kidney problems. For those with stones, the inflammation is greater, thus the risk of infection and pain. Omega-3 can help protect your cardiovascular system as well; considering the correlation between heart disease and kidney disease, eating cold-water fish such as mackeral, tuna and salmon is a wise protective measure.
2. Vitamin D–in addition to the normal amounts of Vitamin D needed by the general population, kidney disease patients need more of this vital nutrient. When the kidneys no longer adequately work, they are unable to participate in the process of converting the nutrient into a form used to strengthen bones. In a recent study, Vitamin D was found to help reduce proteinuria (protein in the urine). Eating cold-water fish, as above, while keeping an eye on protein intake, is beneficial, as are mushrooms and fortified skim milk.
3. Switch to non-animal protein sources (vegan)–certain animal proteins such as red meat, organs, eggs and dairy products (other than fat-free) are going to cause problems for the kidney disease patient. Soy protein is safer and can be used to substitute for dairy products as well as meat.
4. Juice or tea–for those who need to give up carbonated drinks (cola, especially) due to high levels of phosphoric acid and sodium, take solace in juices and teas. This is not only a great way to get more fluids going through the kidneys, but has the added benefit of other nutrients everyone needs. Sunflower leaves, as a tea, have been traditionally used by the Cherokee people for treating kidney inflammation. Pomegranate, well-known as a diuretic, is hyped for its anti-oxidant properties. Caution: avoid commercial tomato juice blends, which also have added sodium.
5. Carbohydrates–although diabetic kidney patients will already be on a low, complex carb regimen, this will now apply to the non-diabetics as well. A diet high in carbohydrates, especially refined, will play havoc with your kidneys as well as your pancreas. Complex carbohydrates will give you the nutrition you require but will be more easily processed by the body.
For a good example, pumpkin seeds, a source of complex carbohydrate loved by many as a snack, also have long been known among Native North Americans as helpful with kidney disorders. Warning: avoid the salted variety.
These are the basics changes needed in nutrition for kidney disease. Some examples are specific food items that are known to be helpful with kidney conditions. They may not be commonly known for their medicinal properties outside of the Native North American culture but this knowledge has been handed down in our families for generations.