The details of renal diets are mesmerizing and guaranteed to make your head spin! There’s a diet for pre-dialysis. Another diet for those with kidney disease. There’s a diet for those who are getting dialysis, too. It makes a lot of sense to ask the question, what type of renal diet should I follow when not on dialysis?
The best answer is really to work with your dietitian pretty closely to make sure you understand your diet fully. That’s because there can be many factors that influence the type of diet you need. Not all renal diets are alike; your neighbor and you could both be on a renal diet but they could be vastly different. One of the major influences is the stage of kidney disease you are in. Another is any other disease process occurring in your body. And a final consideration could be your chewing ability.
What Stage Of Kidney Disease Are You In?
This is the most important question to answer when considering what type of food you’ll be eating. If you aren’t getting dialysis right now, then there’s time to make a difference in your overall health – and kidney function.
For example, do you have high blood pressure? Hypertension affects the kidneys, and when you gain better blood pressure control, then your kidneys are spared from overworking to a degree. Thus the diet would include low sodium, since it has been found that by limiting sodium to 1500 mg to 2000 mg daily with a diet higher in potassium, the blood pressure may come down naturally.
Low sodium diets don’t include salty foods such as olives, anchovies, processed lunch meats, meats prepared with sauces for you to cook at home, canned foods, cheeses, potato chips, pretzels, and most packaged foods including desserts. But they do contain fresh meats and poultry, fish, fruits, vegetables, grains and raw nuts. Dairy products may or may not be limited. These foods give you a lot of leeway to create three tasty meals a day.
If you have diabetes, then this is another big concern that impacts your diet. If your blood sugar is too high, the sugar ends up depositing in every organ and issue of the body. The most susceptible is the eyes where sugars form a cataract film and obstruct your vision. Your kidney tries its best to filter out the sugar, too. Thus, when you reduce your blood sugar levels, you are making a big difference in your kidney functions.
Dropping your carbohydrate level in the diet of processed foods will have the greatest impact on your blood sugar. Carbohydrates need insulin to metabolize them. Just about every processed food is high on the Glycemic Index, which means they will raise your blood sugar level and end up causing sugar deposition in every organ. High Glycemic index foods will also speed up the rate at which complications, including the need for dialysis, occur in diabetics. Thus, the diet for diabetics is a moderately high protein diet, 50% carbohydrates instead of the usual American diet of 55-70%, and low sodium. The low sodium comes into the picture because of the high incidence of blood vessel disorders with diabetes.
What Are Your Restrictions For Your Condition?
Do you have diabetes? Do you have high blood pressure? Do you have any allergies or food insensitivities to foods? Have you been diagnosed with any digestive disorders that might limit your food selection even further? All these considerations must be discussed.
There’s a myth in the public that everyone can eat the same diet. It’s as much a myth as the idea that everyone can wear the same pair of shoes. Diet must be customized to you.
With that in mind, there are some basic recommendations that will help the majority of those who are trying to avoid dialysis.
- Eat as natural a diet as you can. This means avoid canned, processed, and packaged foods.
- Choose foods that are the most wholesome alternative. Select organic foods without pesticides and chemicals added. Go for the heirloom ‘wild’ variety of fruits and vegetables, the ones that haven’t been changed genetically over the years.
- Cook your own meats and foods, without using a microwave.
- Eating small portions is always the best strategy. Gorging on foods only burdens the digestive system and raises blood sugar, thus contributing to kidney overwork.
- Avoid salty foods.
How Do You Manage? What type of renal diet should I follow?