A Low Potassium Diet Is Needed to Keep Your Renal Diet In Control
A person’s body uses potassium, a mineral found in many different foods, to maintain fluid balance and keep muscles, nerves and heart working properly. The kidneys have the job of maintaining the correct level of potassium in the blood. For example, when an individual eats food loaded with potassium, it’s the kidneys job to rid the body of excess potassium through urine.
However, a medical condition called hyperkalemia can interfere if the kidneys are not working properly. Hyperkalemia, or a high potassium level, develops when too much potassium stays in the blood. When a person suffers from any sort of kidney problems, he may need to start a low potassium diet to help the kidneys eliminate the excess potassium by lowering the amount the kidneys have to process.
A Low Potassium Diet Makes A Lower Level in the Blood
Normal potassium level ranges from 3.6 to 4.8 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L). Some medical conditions such as acute or chronic kidney failure, among other concerns can impair kidney functions and cause a higher level of potassium in the blood and create a need for a low potassium diet. Medication like angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, the excessive use of potassium supplements or addictions such as alcoholism can increase potassium too. Regardless of the reason for an increased level of potassium, using a low potassium diet can keep the mineral at a close to normal level.
Benefits of Low Potassium Diet
Besides lowering the amount of potassium in the blood, using a low potassium diet has many other benefits if required by your medical doctor. For instance, with a potassium level close to normal, a person’s kidneys can do their job easily and the body functions are not impaired. Also, the diet helps the body maintain normal heart, muscle and nerve function. To make a low potassium diet work, however, a person must follow the guidelines. For instance, she must limit foods high in potassium such as kiwi, bananas, almonds, canteloupe and red kidney beans. Also, she should stop using salt substitutes and start using spices and salt-free herb blends instead.
You DO Need Some Amount of Potassium
Although the exact amount of potassium a person needs can only be accurately determined by a treating physician or registered dietitian, there are some guidelines. For example, an individual without any medical conditions can have a diet that includes 4700 mg of potassium a day. However, when she suffers from a medical condition, a physician may recommend she consume less than 2700 mg per day. Thus, a person on a low potassium diet may eat one to three servings of low potassium foods fruit, vegetables or dairy per day.
Difficulties in Following a Low Potassium Diet
Like any diet, a low potassium diet takes a lot of extra work to follow. For instance, an individual has to read labels for coded words like potassium chloride to avoid buying food high in potassium. Also, a person must complete due diligence when preparing foods at home. When making potatoes for dinner, she must peel the skin, cut them into thin slices and soak for at least four hours and then pour out the water and use new water to cook the potatoes to lower the potassium. Then she can cook the potatoes. Soaking in water also goes for vegetables such as greens and spinach. Before consuming any canned vegetables or fruits, all the liquid should be drained and food washed. It is certainly not a diet you should use if you do not require the restriction by your physician.
A low potassium diet is used most commonly to treat kidney dialysis patients and those who have chronic kidney disease. When your doctor prescribes for you a low potassium diet, it can be difficult to know exactly what foods and how much to eat of them. Learning more about a kidney dialysis diet plan is helpful, and it can be a great part of a plan to eat a low potassium diet.
Also published on Medium.