It can be difficult to figure out a healthy diet when you have a chronic health condition such as renal disease or diabetes. It is very common, however, for people to be living with more than one of these conditions. Renal disease and diabetes especially seem to go hand in hand for many people.
Managing your diet with just one of these conditions can make your life a bit complicated, but renal disease and diabetes together can feel overwhelming. This is because both of these conditions are strongly affected by diet. In the diagnosis and treatment of both renal disease and diabetes, doctors adamantly recommend a strict diet to help control and maintain the conditions. In many cases, diet affects treatment and outcome just as much or more than medications.
Why does diet affect so much?
Everything you eat gets processed by multiple systems in your body. Food material is broken down in your stomach and digestive tract, and the byproducts are pumped through your blood. That blood is pumped all over your body, and every bit of it is processed by your kidneys. If your kidneys are not functioning properly, then they are unable to properly filter your blood and discard waste and excess byproducts.
The foods you eat are all eventually broken down into sugars. Some foods, such as processed foods, and simple carbohydrates like white flour baked goods, crackers, and sugary snacks, are broken down into sugar very quickly. This causes a spike in your blood sugar. Consistently elevated blood sugar levels, such as those found in diabetes, can cause your blood cells to erode and blood vessels to harden.
Both renal disease and diabetes can cause edema, or dangerous swelling, poor circulation, stroke, and more. Diabetes can even ultimately cause or worsen renal disease. So maintaining an appropriate diet and lifestyle is doubly important for people living with both conditions.
What can I eat?
It may feel like you do not have many options left when it comes to what you can eat. Both diabetes and renal disease each come with their own list of restrictions and recommendations for diet. You can get a list of foods you should avoid from your doctor, as each case is different. Of course, you should discuss any new diet or lifestyle changes with your physician.
Here are some examples of common foods prescribed to patients who have renal disease and diabetes:
Lean Proteins: Eggs, egg whites, boneless skinless chicken breast, shrimp
Dietary Fiber: Beans, lentils, peas, apples, pears, whole wheat bread or pasta
Low Starch Vegetables: Broccoli, asparagus, bell peppers, mushrooms, carrots, cauliflower
Sticking to a healthy diet and lifestyle is the best way for you to live a long and comfortable life with diabetes and renal disease. Remember that one condition can ultimately make the other worse, but that you have a good amount of control over how you feel by controlling your diet. Stick to a healthy meal plan and active lifestyle as directed by your doctor and you can live the healthiest life possible. Click here for more meal plan ideas.