Patients living with chronic health conditions such as renal disease should count themselves lucky that they live in such an era of advanced medicine. Just in recent years, advancements have been made that increase the comfort and longevity of people living with these chronic conditions. Not only that, but people and doctors alike have learned the importance of a healthy and appropriate diet to not only treat renal disease, but effectively slow or halt the progression of kidney failure.
Enter the expertise of a renal dietitian.
What is a renal dietitian?
A renal dietitian is a medical expert that specializes in the diet and nutrition of people with chronic kidney disease. Renal dietitians are highly specialized medical professionals who know all about how diet affects your whole body if you have renal disease, including how your diet will affect not only your kidneys, but your other organs like your heart as well. The dietary needs of a chronic kidney disease patient are extremely important, as diet often affects the body just as much if not more than medications and regular checkups.
What have we learned from renal dietitians?
Probably, the most important thing that we have learned from renal dietitians is the absolute importance of a healthy renal diet. For example, a chronic kidney disease patient, if left untreated, will ultimately reach what is called “end stage renal failure” which means that the kidneys have lost all of their function. People at this stage of renal disease either have to get a kidney transplant or use a process called dialysis to simulate the function of the kidneys. Renal dietitians have helped us to learn that it is possible to slow or even stop the progression of kidney failure, mostly through following a strict diet.
Where can I find advice from renal dietitians?
There is more than one way seek the advice of a renal dietitian. The first and probably best way is to seek a referral from your own physician. Often they will work closely with a renal dietitian to ensure you are getting the best treatment. This is always the best option because every patient is different. What works for someone else may not be the best option for you because your case may differ from someone else.
You can also read about advice from renal dietitians all over the world through the use of the internet. Reputable websites such as Davita (www.davita.com), The National Kidney Foundation (www.kidney.org), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (https://nccd.cdc.gov/ckd/) all have multiple resources for you to seek the advice of a renal dietitian. There is always an abundance of information, meal plans, articles and more at your disposal. Some of these websites even offer a community option, where you can talk to other patients as well as physicians and renal dietitians.
However you seek the advice of a renal dietitian, make sure that you run everything you do through your physician. Especially if you are making changes to your eating or lifestyle changes, your doctor needs to not only approve the changes according to your particular health but also to document what works best for you. All in all, you can learn a lot from a renal dietitian regarding your health and how your diet affects it. For more information on a renal diet from a renal dietitian, click here.
Also published on Medium.