Treatments for chronic kidney disease can vary from medications to dialysis, depending on the stage of the disease. Diet, however, is the one common factor for all kidney disease patients, no matter what stage of renal disease. Diet is the first and perhaps most important part of a healthy kidney disease lifestyle, so it makes sense that you may have questions about how diet can affect your treatment.
Why is diet so important in treating chronic kidney disease?
Diet is important because it can make all the difference in the treatment of your chronic kidney disease. First of all, it can make living with kidney disease more comfortable. Everything that you eat is eventually filtered through your kidneys. If you eat a diet that is considered kidney safe, you are giving your kidneys less work to do. Your symptoms, then, can be less severe when you are eating a diet that doesn’t create extra work for your already ailing kidneys.
Perhaps most importantly, a strict kidney safe diet can actually slow the progression of damage. Yes, you can slow or even stop the progression of chronic kidney disease by sticking to a strict kidney-friendly diet.
What are the most common dietary restrictions?
The most common dietary restriction and a very important one is sodium. Sodium can cause a laundry list of issues from high blood pressure to swelling. Salt isn’t the only food that has sodium in it, so be aware of the foods you eat that contain sodium, especially processed foods.
Other dietary restrictions may depend on what stage of kidney disease you are in. Potassium and phosphorus are other common dietary restrictions for chronic kidney disease. Potassium especially is found in so many foods, even fruits, and vegetables, and therefore can be a difficult dietary restriction to manage.
It feels like there are so many restrictions. What can I eat?
Especially in the beginning of your kidney disease journey, it can feel like even simple dietary restrictions are overbearing and just impossible to follow. Sodium and potassium especially are so abundant that you may be feeling like there are too many foods that you shouldn’t eat and not enough foods that you can eat. However, there are so many foods and delicious recipes that you can use and enjoy on a kidney safe diet.
Ask your healthcare professional for a list of foods that are safe for you to eat, ask to speak to a specialized nutritionist, or do some simple research to find kidney safe recipes. Davita.com and The National Kidney Foundation are good resources to start with. Remember to always speak with your healthcare professionals about any changes you plan to make with your diet, or if you are ever unsure about a particular food or recipe.
Are sodium free salt substitutions safe?
Many sodium free salt substitutions are high in potassium. If potassium is on your list of foods to avoid, you shouldn’t use them. There are, however, many other flavor enhancers that you can use in place of salt or salt substitutes. Experiment with herbs and spices, or try replacing the bright, tart flavor of salt with fresh lemon juice.
These are just a few commonly asked questions about chronic kidney disease diets. If you have more questions, you should always feel comfortable opening up a discussion with your healthcare professionals. The more you know about how a kidney safe diet can help you the better able you will be to live a healthier and more comfortable lifestyle with chronic kidney disease.
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Also published on Medium.