So, you have been diagnosed with kidney disease and your doctor has put you on a very low sodium or sodium free diet. You may be wondering what the big deal is with sodium and kidney problems. Understanding why sodium is an issue for kidney disease is your first step in being able to follow through with the restrictions you've been given.
What Is Kidney Disease?
First of all, in order to understand how sodium affects your kidneys, you need to know what is happening to your body. Chronic kidney disease is a condition where the kidneys are losing function. As the kidneys perform a lot of different and very important jobs in the body, this can affect many different systems of the body.
One of the main functions of the kidneys is filtering out excess waste and fluid. When the kidneys are not functioning properly, some of the waste and fluid that should be flushed out stays in the body instead. This can cause a lot of very uncomfortable and potentially dangerous problems.
In the case of sodium, the kidneys get a double dose of trouble. First of all, too much sodium in your body can cause high blood pressure, heart problems, and even stroke, among other issues. Secondly, sodium also causes fluid retention, which is already an issue for many kidney disease patients due to the kidneys not being able to flush out all that they need to.
So the big deal with sodium is this: Not only can your body not properly filter out any excess sodium which can cause a host of dangerous issues, but the sodium adds to an already present fluid retention problem.
Now that you understand why a low or no sodium diet is so important, you may be wondering how you can properly follow through. There are a few things you can do to ensure that you are properly omitting sodium from your diet:
• Be Vigilant: There are hidden sources of sodium everywhere. Some foods that you might not have considered the sodium content of are dairy products like many cheeses, “diet” foods, and deli meats.
• Read Labels: Always read nutrition labels to find out the sodium content of the foods you are eating. You will notice that canned and processed foods will have a much higher sodium content than other foods.
• Watch Servings: As a follow up to reading nutrition labels, make sure you are paying attention to the serving size, as the sodium content listed is per serving. Sometimes even a small package can be multiple servings.
• Season Instead of Salt: Avoid salting your food, and instead focus on seasoning it. Use salt free herbs and spices to flavor your food. Also, you can find sodium free salt substitutes, but talk to your doctor before using them as they may contain ingredients that present other problems.
As a kidney disease patient, sodium is an important factor to keep up with. Allowing too much sodium in your diet can cause you a lot of problems, making you very uncomfortable. It can even be life threatening. Use these tips to follow through with your low or no sodium diet. For more information on a renal diet click here.