Living with renal disease can put a bit of a damper on your diet. There are restrictions and guidelines to follow that are aimed at keeping your body functioning properly, or as properly as possible.
Restrictions do not mean that there isn’t plenty to eat, however. Renal patients might find that they can eat more than they think. The key is to read nutrition and ingredients labels and know what to avoid.
Sodium is one of the biggest ingredients to avoid. In your body, the kidneys are responsible for filtering out excess sodium and other waste. When the kidneys are not functioning properly, they are not able to properly filter out excess sodium. A build up in sodium can lead to many serious health problems. Too much sodium can cause fluid retention, high blood pressure, and dangerous swelling to your extremities.
Fluid retention can be a very serious matter. If renal patients are not careful, fluid can build up so much that it floods into the lungs, making it hard to breathe. The excess fluid in your blood stream can make it harder for your heart to pump your blood properly, and could result in heart failure.
These are the reasons why a low sodium renal diet is important for patients. But how much sodium is recommended?
Your doctor will give you a better estimation of what amount is best for your specific diet, but for the most part patients on a low sodium renal diet are limited to 2grams or less per day. Keep your eye on ingredient lists and serving sizes to keep track of how much you are consuming.
Here are some tips for putting together your low sodium grocery list:
When you are grocery shopping, try to avoid most boxed or processed packaged foods. A lot of them contain a lot of sodium and other preservatives that your kidneys may not be able to process properly. If you must purchase these products, aim for products that have less than 35mg of sodium per serving. These products will be marked as very low sodium or sodium free.
Always try to go with fresh fruits and vegetables when possible, or frozen as an alternative. Canned vegetables tend to have a lot of additional sodium added as a preservative. If you absolutely must used canned vegetables, make sure to drain and rinse to wash away as much of the excess sodium as possible.
Purchase salt-free seasonings. Herbs and spices can give your meals a lot of flavor without the added salt.
Avoid a lot of the cured meats such as bacon, hot dogs, and lunch meats. These are pumped full of sodium.
Opt for salt free tortilla chips or low salt popcorn instead of salty chips and crackers.
Grocery shopping for a low sodium renal diet might seem very restrictive at first. However, once you get used to all of the healthy and low sodium options that are available to you, you might find that you enjoy all of the flavors of foods even more than you did before.
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Also published on Medium.