The primary function of the kidneys is to flush out waste and excess fluids. With chronic kidney disorders and renal failure, the kidneys are not able to do their job properly. The amount of sodium in your body affects this issue because sodium increases water retention in the body, therefore making your kidneys’ job even harder.
How can too much sodium hurt me?
- Some of the affects of sodium can seem fairly benign but, especially for renal patients, can be detrimental to your health.
- High sodium intake can cause you to be very thirsty. Especially for renal patients on fluid restrictive diets, this can be extremely uncomfortable.
- When you have renal issues, too much sodium can cause fluid retention. Fluid retention can cause:
Shortness of breath
- Too much sodium can also increase your blood pressure.
How much is too much?
- Especially in America, people tend to consume far more than the recommended amount of sodium. The normal recommended amount of sodium per day for non-renal “healthy” people is 2,400mg per day. This equates to roughly one teaspoon of salt.
- Depending on your level of renal disease, your doctor might recommend that you consume as little as 1,000mg of sodium per day.
- Following the restrictions your doctor gives you is essential. Especially if you are already on dialysis, or would like to avoid dialysis in the near future, pay close attention to the limits your doctor gives you and check every food label for sodium content.
What are some tips to keep my sodium intake low?
- Keep a food diary. Write down everything you eat, how much you ate, and the amount of sodium in each food.
- Always check nutrition labels for every food you eat. Even less obvious foods like bread or unsalted snacks contain sodium. The more limited your diet, the more important it is to track every milligram of sodium.
- Avoid salting foods when cooking. Instead, opt for salt-free seasonings and herbs. Not only will you be saving yourself the sodium, but you will have the opportunity to enjoy food with more depth and flavor.
- Opt for fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned. Canned foods often have tons of sodium and added preservatives. If you absolutely must use canned vegetables, drain and rinse them thoroughly.
- Try your hand at the culinary arts by making your own sauces and salad dressings. Store bought sauces and dressings contain large amounts of sodium and other additives for preservation, color, and flavor. Making your own will not only be healthier, but can be a rewarding experience.
Keeping track of your sodium intake is important for everyone, doubly so if you are a renal patient. Limiting your sodium intake, keeping track of how much sodium you eat, and replacing store bought processed foods with fresh options can put you on the right track.