The amount of potassium that you should eat per meal on a low potassium renal diet varies according to a number of factors, such as the stage of your kidney disease, the level of potassium in your blood, and what treatment you’re receiving. Let’s start by taking a closer look at the role of potassium in your diet.
What Does Potassium Do In Your Renal Diet?
Potassium is a mineral found in your body that helps to control the function of your nerves and your muscles, including your heart muscle. It also helps to balance the amount of fluids and electrolytes in your body, along with the pH level of your blood. Since the kidneys are Command Central for making sure potassium levels stay within normal limits, people with kidney disease can be prone to problems with high potassium levels if they’re not careful.
Safe potassium levels are in the range of 3.5 – 5.0 mg/dl. Caution is needed when your level is within the range of 5.1 – 6.0, and you should be monitored closely by your doctor. If the level goes above 6.0, this is very dangerous, and will require special treatment to help lower it.
If potassium levels are dangerously high, a person can have heart failure, and even sudden death. People who are in stage 5 CKD (end stage renal disease) need regular dialysis treatments to remove the potassium from their systems. If treatments are missed, potassium can build up rapidly.
Signs and symptoms of high potassium include nausea, weakness (especially in the legs), numbness or tingling in the fingers or toes, stomach cramping, slow pulse, and an irregular heartbeat.
Daily Intake vs. Meal Intake-low potassium renal diet
The amount of potassium that’s safe for you to eat depends on what stage of kidney disease you have and what your potassium level is. The dietary guideline for adults without kidney disease is 4,700 mg of potassium per day. According to the National Kidney Foundation’s guidelines, individuals with stages 1-4 renal disease should follow a low potassium renal diet based on their potassium levels (your renal dietitian can provide the best guidance). If levels are within normal range (3.5 – 5.0 mg/dl) there is no need to limit potassium intake. If a low potassium renal diet is recommended, that’s generally 2000 mg per day.
So, back to our initial question, “How much potassium should I eat per meal on a low potassium renal diet?” As you can see, the answer varies according to your specific situation, and the recommendations of your doctor and renal dietician. To get the specific amount per meal, divide the daily recommended amount by the number of meals you eat in a day.
What Are the Best Low Potassium Foods to Eat? low potassium renal diet
There are many great options when you’re searching for low potassium foods to eat. If you’re looking for fruit, pick apples, grapes, pears, watermelon, cranberries and cherries. Yum! If you’re longing for a nice vegetable, reach for beans (green or wax), cucumber, onions, lettuce and carrots. And when you’re looking for a starch, low-potassium options include rice, noodles, cereals, bread and bread products.
For more detailed information, check out this food list.
Tips for Keeping Your Potassium in Check
Here are few tips for keeping your potassium level within normal limits:
- Limit foods high in potassium. These include fruits such as bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, prunes, raisins and apricots. Vegetables high in potassium include broccoli, potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens (swiss chard, collard, dandelion, mustard and beet). Other foods that tip the scale are chocolate (sorry!), coffee (limit to 2 cups per day), salt substitute, bran and bran products. Check out the complete list for more specific information.
- Leach high potassium vegetables before eating them. Leaching is a soaking process that helps to pull some of the potassium out. Follow these specific instructions to make sure you’re leaching correctly. You won’t get all of the potassium out, so make sure you follow your renal dietician’s guidance about types of foods and portion sizes for your situation.
- Don’t use the liquid from canned fruits and vegetables, or juices from cooked meat.
- All food has some potassium, so keep serving sizes small, even with low potassium foods.
- Limit milk and milk products, or replace them with nondairy substitutes.
- Avoid salt substitutes and seasonings that contain potassium.
- If it says “low salt”, read the label! Potassium chloride may have been added.
As with everything related to your kidney disease, your situation is unique, you’re not alone, and there’s a lot you can control. By working closely with your doctor and your renal dietician, you can keep tabs on your potassium level and take needed steps to keep that important number within normal range.
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