There are many parts of living with chronic illness that can be confusing. Navigating what you can and cannot eat, for example, can be a big challenge to overcome when trying to understand your life with chronic kidney disease. Some restrictions are discussed more than others, and some only apply during particular stages of illness.
Protein restrictions are one of those rules that many patients get tripped up on. Some kidney disease patients are told to carefully monitor or even restrict protein intake, while others may have never heard of protein being a problem.
It is important to understand that just like each person is an individual, so are their particular cases when it comes to chronic illness. No two people will be exactly alike, and therefore they may have different recommendations and restrictions for their health. To get a better understanding of your own condition and how to monitor your own restrictions and recommendations, talk to your healthcare provider for specifics about your kidney disease and how to manage it.
Protein: The Good and the Bad
Protein is an important component to just about everyone's diet. You need protein to help build healthy muscles, heal injuries, and more. Without protein, your body can become weak and be unable to fight off illness and infections. Most recommendations for protein intake are between 40 and 65 grams per day, depending on gender and body type.
Protein is found in so many foods. Most people know that most meats, eggs, and dairy products have lots of protein, but there are many other sources as well. Vegetables, especially sprouts, beans, and leafy greens, pack a huge protein punch. Often, people are eating a lot more protein than they realize because they do not consider plant based protein sources, when actually many vegetable sources are higher in protein than animal sources. Many meat alternatives, such as tofu, are also high in protein.
There is such a thing as too much protein, especially if you have chronic kidney disease. In an otherwise healthy person, too much protein can cause you to gain weight, dehydrate, and can actually cause kidney problems. This is because all of that excess waste that your body doesn't need has to be filtered by your kidneys.
Americans especially seem to be a little protein obsessed, which helps contribute to the confusion many people feel about protein restrictions in the later stages of kidney disease. It can be confusing to be bombarded with so much advertising for more and more protein, and to know how important protein is, but then be told to restrict it in the same breath.
The later stages of chronic kidney disease require strict dietary management. Your kidneys simply are not able to filter out the excess waste, which can create a buildup of protein. The excess waste caused by protein can cause some major health issues, such as nausea and vomiting.
Talk to your doctor about your specific needs and whether protein is an issue that you need to worry about with your chronic kidney disease diet. You may need to make some changes and restrict your protein intake to a healthier level for you. For more information about chronic kidney disease and protein, click here.
Also published on Medium.