The treatment approach towards Chronic Kidney Diseaseincludes dietary restrictions to help delay kidney damage. The technical name for such diet modifications is “Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT)”, or more commonly, a Renal Diet Plan or a Kidney-friendly Diet plan.
So what entails a Kidney-friendly Diet Plan?
“Medical Nutrition Therapy” (MNT) or Renal Diet when started early on, has been clinically proven to effectively delay disease progression & add symptom-free years before our kidneys finally start to fail.
In chronic kidney disease, filtration zones in nephrons within our kidneys get severely damaged following constant local injury either by our immune system (non-diabetic CKD) or high blood sugar (CKD with Diabetes) or the sheer force with which blood gushes to these filters when kidney disease follows uncontrolled blood pressure. Other causes such as Polycystic Kidney Disease (stems out from kidney tissue itself) and conditions that block the urine “outflow pipe” could damage nephrons via other internal mechanisms.
As organ damage progresses, kidneys gradually lose their capacity to segregate “blood wastes” from “useful blood proteins and nutrients”. As a result, blood levels of all these parameters go haywire!
Sodium is a major mineral mainly present in our bloodstream (outside the cells). It is a major component of table salt. Among other functions, Sodium helps maintain our Blood Pressure. CKD causes an increase in blood Sodium levels beyond permissible levels which in turn undesirably increases our BP and promotes further kidney damage. This calls for a reduction in our daily Sodium intake once kidney disease or any of it’s risk factors (such as high blood pressure) sets in.
Potassium is also a major mineral in our human body chiefly present inside each cell. Normally, it helps keep our heart rhythm. It also keeps our Blood Pressure in check by “balancing out” the BP-raising effects of Sodium in our body.
Chronic Kidney Disease causes an increase in our blood potassium levels as well. So by logic, it should balance out the increase in BP by Sodium again, as it normally does, right? Only, unfortunately, it doesn’t. Potassium does help reduce blood pressure in normal health, but if the levels propel beyond permissible limits (fancy word: Hyper-kalemia), our heart rhythm goes literally crazy! And it’s extremely dangerous both in itself, as well as in terms of kidney disease progression. So Potassium intake needs scrutiny in CKD.
Phosphorus is another mineral prevalent in our body, chiefly constituting our bones and teeth. Simply put, it is special.
In CKD, the blood levels initially reduce in early stages due to its rampant urinary loss & lack of “re-absorption” back to our bloodstream. However, intriguingly, phosphorus levels shoot-up once kidneys enter End-Stage Renal Disease (failure).
So why is that bad? Well, you see, Mother Nature taught our body organs to be content with what’s necessary and shun “greed”. So if blood phosphorus levels shoot-up beyond necessary levels, it won’t go and continue to strengthen our bones & teeth. Rather, the excess amount naturally ends-up forming large kidney stones! Imagine, your unwell kidneys already suffering through because of a separate disease and having to bear the literally crushing burden of stones? Not nice, right? Thus, controlling dietary phosphorus intake is an absolute necessity once your blood reports prove that your CKD has advanced sufficiently and blood phosphorus levels start rising.
CHOLESTEROL & FATS
Chronic Kidney Disease (and kidney failure) disturbs Liver function, weakens Muscles and all other apparatus where dietary Cholesterol and Fat could be normally diverted for more constructive use. In such a scenario, these “excess” nutrients (fats & cholesterol) end-up clogging our blood vessels, increase blood pressure and promote heart disease by the time our kidneys fail.
Normally, your medical consultant would put you on medication to control the above consequences. However, there is only so much that drugs can help us with. If we continue to “abuse” our body with high cholesterol & fatty diets, that would only make it difficult for the meds to help us and the heart disease will set-in much faster. All this would only add to further kidney damage.
Besides, reducing overall fat content in our diet would also help with weight management that is crucial in CKD. That’s because, greater the “fat content” in our body, more the number of blood vessels. That translates as a blood overload that our already weak CKD-scarred kidneys would need to try and filter. In a nutshell, unwell Kidneys only end-up failing faster!
Hence, reducing CHOLESTEROL & FAT intake in a renal diet is a must.
Now, up until now, as per our discussion, the intake of specific minerals (Sodium, Potassium, Phosphorus ) & Fats needs to be reduced due to the kidney’s ability to flush them out and their damaging consequences.
BUT PROTEIN IS DIFFERENT!
Instead of retention in the blood, there is severe protein loss in urine during CKD & kidney failure. Why is it advised to reduce protein consumption then? Sounds counter-productive right?
It is here that you’ve got to remember an important bit. The protein that we lose in Urine is not dietary protein. Those are Plasma proteins that float in our bloodstream and carry out a number of crucial functions in the body essential for our survival. On the other hand, Dietary Protein (from our food) is digested into small amino acids which after serving useful roles in our body are converted into a toxic waste product called UREA in the liver.
In normal health, Urea is constantly removed by our kidneys to keep our bodies spick and span. In CKD, unwell kidneys are unable to remove Urea as effectively as they otherwise should. This in-turn reflects as high blood urea levels in our blood reports, especially in advanced stages of Chronic Kidney Disease.
If you have a high protein diet, it would again unnecessarily burden your “unwell” kidneys with more waste to remove, and a greater workload. So remember to stick to a low-protein diet when following a Kidney-friendly Diet Plan.
Here’s presenting a summary of Nutrient Allowances in a Non-Diabetic Renal Diet for your reference.
Scroll along to learn more about a hassle-free implementation of the Kidney-friendly Diet plan in your daily lives.
What business does someone trained as a physician-scientist have, talking about “Tools necessary for a Kidney-friendly kitchen”, you may ask?
Well, it’s my own decade-long Experience navigating life as a Kidney Warrior (currently post-kidney transplant) and the frustrating lack of organized information on this matter in the medical literature or public domain, that has motivated me to help fellow members in the Kidney Community in this regard.
As soon as you are diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease, dietary modifications take the centre-stage along with necessary medicines for your root cause & stage of kidney disease. Team ATK has constantly stressed the importance of consulting a Registered Renal Dietitian to help you prepare a Renal Diet Plan tailored to your individual health status.
However, going by personal experience, applying all of the above advice in your daily lives also needs some smart toolsin your kitchen to make it truly kidney-friendly and turn you into a more efficient Kidney Warrior.
Being a Kidney Patient is difficult. It is not just the health challenges it poses on a day-to-day basis. It is also the “restrictions” that are suddenly “imposed” on us even with something as basic as “what we EAT”! Admittedly, the Renal Diet appears all the more challenging when it is a festive season!
But, focusing on what we CAN eat with kidney disease in tow, instead of what we CANNOT opens a whole new horizon of food options & possible food combinations which may go unnoticed otherwise.
Protein is a superstar of sorts in the Nutrient Circles, be it in sickness or in health. But do you completely understand all that you must, when it comes to this “celebrated nutrient” in the context of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)?
The treatment approach towards Chronic Kidney Disease includes dietary restrictions to help delay kidney damage. The technical name for such diet modifications is “Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT)”, or more commonly, a Renal Diet Plan or a Kidney-friendly Diet plan.
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