Healthy and normal kidneys remove waste from the blood. But, if you have chronic kidney disease, your kidneys are not working properly. They have more trouble removing the waste. This allows the waste in the blood to accumulate. Due to this, there is extra stress on your kidneys. Also, it can lead to serious health problems.
Watching what you eat and drink will help you stay healthier. Some of the waste in your blood comes from foods you eat. A kidney-friendly diet may help protect your kidneys from further damage. A kidney-friendly diet limits certain foods to prevent the minerals in those foods from building up in your body. This can reduce stress on your kidneys, which can slow the progress of kidney disease.
Use the nutrition facts section on food labels to learn more about what is in the foods you eat. The nutrition facts will tell you how much protein, carbohydrates, fat and sodium are in each serving of a food. This can help you pick foods that are high in the nutrients you need and low in the nutrients you should limit.
Foods that causes buildup up of waste in chronic kidney disease
Some of the waste that can build up in your blood comes from nutrients in the food you eat. Your body actually needs most of these nutrients for its day-to-day functions. But when your kidneys aren’t working well, certain nutrients can become a problem.
People with advanced kidney failure also have anemia and usually need extra iron. Many foods contain extra iron (liver, beef, pork, chicken and kidney beans, iron-fortified cereals). Talk to your provider or dietitian about which foods with iron you can eat because of your kidney disease.
Phosphorous is a mineral that can help keep bones healthy and strong. But, even in early stages of chronic kidney disease, the level of phosphorous in your blood can become too high. A high level of phosphorous can cause itchy skin. It can also cause your bones to lose calcium. If this happens, your bones will get weaker and more brittle. You also have a greater risk of developing osteoporosis.
Foods that are high in phosphorous include:
- Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream.
- Dried beans and peas, such as kidney beans, split peas, and lentils.
- Nuts and peanut butter.
- Drinks like beer, cola, and hot cocoa.
If your phosphorous level is too high even after you change your diet, your doctor may prescribe medicine to lower it.
Carbohydrates (“carbs”) are the easiest kind of energy for your body to use. Healthy sources of carbohydrates include fruits and vegetables. Unhealthy sources of carbohydrates such as sugar, honey, hard candies, soft drinks and other sugary drinks.
However, some carbohydrates are high in potassium and phosphorus. Therefore you may need to limit their intake depending on your stage of kidney disease. You may also need to watch your carbohydrates carefully if you have diabetes. Your dietitian can help you learn more about the carbohydrates in your meal plan and also how they affect your blood sugar.
Calcium for chronic kidney disease
You need calcium to build strong bones. Unfortunately, foods that contain calcium often also contain phosphorous. If you have chronic kidney disease, you may need to take calcium supplements that are phosphorous-free. Your doctor may also prescribe a special type of vitamin D. This will help your body absorb calcium.
You need protein to build and maintain healthy muscles, bones, skin, and blood. Protein also helps your body fight infection and heal wounds. High protein foods include foods such as:
- Meats, including beef, pork, chicken, and turkey.
- Dairy products, including cheese, milk, and yogurt.
When protein breaks down, it turns into waste products. However, kidneys damaged by disease aren’t able to stop this waste from building up in the blood. Many people with early chronic kidney disease should eat a low-protein diet. Talk to your doctor about whether you should cut back on protein.
Potassium is a mineral that helps your muscles and heart work properly. It is found in foods such as bananas, potatoes, tomatoes, avocados, and melons. Having too much or too little potassium in your blood can cause serious problems. You may need to watch your potassium intake. Your doctor will determine whether you need to change the amount of potassium in your diet. This will depend on the stage of your chronic kidney disease and whether you are taking medicine to help lower your potassium level.
If you take in too much sodium (salt), you may retain fluid. This extra fluid can raise your blood pressure. This puts stress on your heart and kidneys. Check food labels for sodium. Packaged and processed foods are often high in sodium. You may know that foods such as soy sauce, processed meats, crackers, and potato chips contain a lot of sodium. But you may not realize how much sodium is in foods like bread, canned vegetables, soups, and cheese. Look for sodium-free or low-sodium foods.
Don’t add salt to your food. Try different seasonings, such as lemon juice, hot pepper sauce, and salt-free spices. Avoid salt substitutes. They often contain high levels of potassium.
If you have trouble getting rid of fluid from your body, you need to be careful about how much you drink. Too much fluid can put additional strain on your kidneys.
You need to take in the right amount of calories to maintain a healthy weight and support your body’s functions. This can be challenging for people who have chronic kidney disease. Limiting the amount of protein, dairy, salt, and certain nutrients in your diet reduces your food choices. Foods you used to eat may no longer be healthy options for you. Also, your appetite may be affected by chronic kidney disease. Even if it’s fine to eat certain foods you used to enjoy, they may not have the same appeal.
Your body gets energy from the calories you eat and drink. Calories come from the protein, carbohydrates and fat in your diet. How many calories you need depends on your age, gender, body size and activity level.
You may also need to adjust how many calories you eat based on your weight goals. Some people will need to limit the calories they eat. Others may need to have more calories. Your doctor or dietitian can help you figure out how many calories you should have each day. Work with your dietitian to make a meal plan that helps you get the right amount of calories, and keep in touch for support.
Vitamins for chronic kidney disease
Following a kidney-friendly meal plan may make it hard for you to get all of the vitamins and minerals you need. To help you get the right amounts of vitamins and minerals, your dietitian may suggest a special supplement made for people with kidney disease.
Your doctor or dietitian might also suggest a special kind of vitamin D, folic acid or iron pill. This is to help prevent some common side effects of kidney disease, such as bone disease and anemia. Regular multi-vitamins may not be healthy for you if you have kidney disease. They may have too much of some vitamins and not enough of others. Your doctor or dietitian can help you find vitamins that are right for you.
Important! Tell your doctor and dietitian about any vitamins, supplements or over-the-counter medicines you are taking. Some can cause more damage to your kidneys or cause other health problems.
I’m on dialysis. Do I still need to be concerned about nutrition?
Yes, you still need to watch what you eat. Dialysis can filter your blood very effectively. But it can’t remove all of the waste your body makes when it processes nutrients. You are at increased risk of waste levels rising between your dialysis sessions.