World Kidney Day 2023: Kidneys are one of the most important organs in our body and they do many crucial jobs – kidneys work like filters and remove waste, extra water, and other contaminants from blood and our bodies. They help control your blood pressure, help make red blood cells and keep your bones healthy. When you have kidney disease all the above jobs that healthy kidneys do are affected. The diseased kidneys are unable to remove waste from your body. When kidney disease progresses wastes build up to high levels in your blood and you start feeling sick. If kidney disease keeps getting worse, it can lead to kidney failure. This means your kidneys no longer work well enough to keep you alive, and you need a treatment like a dialysis or a kidney transplant.
“Wastes come from the food we eat. When you have kidney disease the waste is not filtered, and it builds up in your body instead. When you have kidney disease, diet is a crucial part of your treatment plan. Diet may help you control the progression of kidney disease. Your diet recommendations may change over time depending upon the functionality of the kidney and level of damage,” shares Dr Charu Dua, Chief Clinical Nutritionist, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad.
On World Kidney Day 2023, Dr Charu Dua shares with us 5 myths about the diet of kidney patients that need to be busted.
World Kidney Day: Busting Myths About Dietary Requirements
Clinical nutritionist Dr Charu Dua shares with us the following myths and facts:
1. Myth: Patients with kidney disease should stop consuming proteins, stop eating dals, stop drinking milk, stop eating non-veg foods, eggs etc.
Fact: Recommendation is to eat the right kind and right amount of protein:
If you have kidney disease, you need to closely watch the amount of protein you eat to prevent protein wastes from building up in your blood. This can help kidneys work longer. The decision on how much protein you need to take daily is based on the stage of kidney disease, level of nutrition, muscle mass, and may other things. There are two types of proteins: Animal proteins and plant proteins. Animal protein is found in products like meat, poultry, fish, and eggs. Plant protein is found in dried beans, lentils, and nuts. A well-balanced diet for kidney patients may include either kind of protein every day, in the right amount. A qualified dietician will be able to help you convert the recommendations of proteins (both quantity and quality) into your plate. They may help you to list what kind of dals, what kind of non-vegetarian protein you can have, and in what quantity which is safe for you.
2. Myth: People with kidney disease switch to low-sodium salts or salt substitutes (sendha namak, rock salt, pink salt etc) when they are prescribed low sodium diet by their doctor/ dietician
Fact: Salt substitutes (low sodium salts) can be very high in potassium, avoid using low sodium salts like sendha namak.
The common name for sodium is salt. It is found in many foods. Table salt is sodium chloride. You get sodium when you use a salt shaker or add salt to cooking. There is also hidden sodium in processed and pre-prepared instant foods or packaged food. Sodium keeps the amount of water in your body balanced. It also helps to keep blood pressure normal but your body needs very little sodium. Excess sodium is removed from your body by the kidneys. As the kidneys slow down, they may not be able to remove extra sodium, and thus sodium builds up in your body. Too much sodium in your diet may raise your blood pressure, and high blood pressure is one of the leading causes of Chronic Kidney Disease. A high salt diet may make you feel more thirsty, and also can lead to water retention (more weight gain), edema (uncomfortable swelling), which may worsen kidney disease.
Salt substitutes or low sodium salt can actually be dangerous for kidney patients. Most of these products replace sodium chloride (salt) with potassium chloride. Kidney patients are not able to filter extra potassium coming from salt substitutes and it accumulates as waste in blood. Following a low-sodium diet is not as simple as written or prescribed, meet a qualified dietician who may suggest you solutions to achieve a low-salt diet.
3. Myth: Have fruits, they are good for health.
Fact: Fruits are a rich source of potassium and patients with kidney disease may be recommended to have a low-potassium diet.
Potassium is an important mineral found in most foods. Potassium helps your nerves, muscles, and heart work properly. Problems can occur when blood potassium levels are too high or too low. Damaged kidneys allow potassium to build up in your blood, which can cause serious heart problems. Your food and drink choices can help you lower your potassium level if needed. A low-potassium diet limits total consumption. When you have kidney disease, there may be a list of fruits and vegetables that your dietician will tell you not to have, they make this list on the basis of the fluctuations of potassium you may have in your blood. Broadly, you will be told not to add potassium to diet, and foods like coconut water, lemon water, pickles, sauces and chutneys, soups, fruit juices, and vegetable juices should not be included in your diet. You may be recommended low-potassium fruits in limited quantities and will be asked to follow portion control. A qualified dietician can help you list food items that you can have daily, in moderation, or completely avoid.
Also read: World Kidney Day: 10 Daily Habits That Can Damage Your Kidneys
4. Myth: When your doctor recommends you to restrict fluids, it means only limiting water intake.
Fact: If you are prescribed a fluid-restricted diet, then food fluid restriction also needs to be followed.
Fluid is a liquid or any food that turns into a liquid at room temperature – water, milk, juice, tea, coffee, alcohol, and soups are all fluids. Ice cubes, jelly, ice creams, frozen yogurt, sherbet, and slushes are also fluids as they melt into liquids at room temperature. For those who are on end-stage renal disease or dialysis, you may find your kidneys are not able to make a normal amount of urine. At this time, you will need to control the amount you can have will be based on the amount of urine you make. Just remember to follow food fluid restrictions too.
5. Myth: Patients with kidney disease should stop consuming dairy products
Fact: Limiting the quantity of dairy is recommended.
Phosphorous is a mineral that helps keep your bones healthy. It also helps keep blood vessels and muscles working. Phosphorus is found naturally in foods rich in proteins, such as meat, poultry, fish, nuts, beans, and dairy products. Phosphorous is also added to many processed foods. But too much of phosphorous pulls calcium away from your bones and when you have kidney disease, phosphorus can build up in your blood, making your bones thin, weak, and more likely to break. It can cause itchy skin, and bone and joint pain. Most people with kidney disease need to eat food with less phosphorus than they are used to eating.
It is recommended to limit dairy products, but not completely stop, especially when you are a vegetarian. Reduce high phosphorus food (non-veg processed meats, nuts & seeds, chocolates, malted beverages, black aerated drinks) in your diet. Learn to read nutrition labels and look for ingredients like phosphorous.
(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the expert quoted. Zee News doesn’t confirm this. Always check with your doctor before following a diet.)