Low Function Kidney Diet Options
If you have problems with your kidneys, you probably need to alter your diet. Because your kidneys have decreased functionality, you may not be able to process the same kinds of foods you could prior to having kidney disease. By changing your diet, you can help ensure that your kidneys are not overly taxed by the foods you eat—one positive thing you can do to slow the progress of kidney disease or degeneration.
What to Avoid
If you have low-functioning kidneys, it’s essential to change your eating habits to keep your kidneys from working at an even less-effective rate. First off, remove excess amounts of sodium from your diet. Monitor your salt intake closely, as sodium can raise blood pressure, which is detrimental to people with low kidney function. Avoid salty foods such as frozen foods, hot dogs, some canned goods and many condiments. Discuss with your doctor the maximum amount of sodium you should intake daily, and read labels closely—you may find that even many foods touted as “low sodium” are too high for you.
Protein is essential, but people with low kidney function should limit the amount of protein they ingest. Foods such as red meats, nuts, beans and eggs contain large amounts of protein. Because protein is so important for a number of other bodily functions, avoiding protein completely could be worse than continuing to eat protein-rich foods. Consult a dietitian to come up with a good meal plan for minimal—but still healthy—amounts of protein.
Potassium is another substance to avoid if you have low kidney function. Most normal kidneys are capable of filtering out excess potassium in the blood, but kidneys that are low function have a harder time removing unneeded potassium, which can be bad for your heart. Potassium is found in fruits and vegetables such as figs, oranges, bananas and potatoes.
Monitor your cholesterol and phosphorus intake. Beware of foods that are high in saturated fats or triglycerides, and avoid processed, “convenience” foods, including cookies, cakes, pastries and muffins. Phosphorus is found in various foods, including nuts, dairy products and soft drinks. Both substances can build up in the blood and make your kidneys work overtime.
What You Can Eat
Seek out low-sodium canned goods. To make up for a low amount of protein, add complex carbohydrates to your diet, such as whole-grain bread. Fruit juices and canned fruits that contain lower amounts of sugar are increasingly available at the supermarket. Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, and drink a lot of water to flush your system and help your kidneys work better.
In addition to knowing what to eat, pay attention to how much you eat. Check serving sizes of the foods you can eat, and stick to them. Your best bet is to try working with a dietitian to formulate the best food plan for you. A dietitian can teach you how to divide your meals appropriately and pack in as much nutrition as possible.