The kidneys are organs that play several essential roles in the body. They remove toxins and excess water from the blood, which is taken out of the body through fluid. In addition, they help produce red blood cells and make Vitamin D usable, keeping the body happy and healthy.
When the kidneys start to lose function, it can have detrimental effects. An estimated one in seven American adults suffer from chronic kidney disease, the majority of whom are unaware they have the disease. Doctors treat the disease differently according to the stage of the disease and individual, but they agree that following a renal diet promotes kidney function and slows the progression of kidney failure.
What to Know About Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic Kidney Disease, also known as CKD, is the gradual loss of kidney function. The disease has several stages with different symptoms and treatments. In the early stages of CKD, a person may have little to no symptoms. As the disease progresses, symptoms worsen and can include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, frequent urination, hypertension, and more. The end-stage of CKD is kidney failure, which is fatal without dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Because the stages of CKD have various symptoms and medical needs, a doctor should always be consulted before beginning any treatment. In the early stages, most doctors recommend following a renal diet that lessens the burden on the kidneys. A renal diet often limits sodium, potassium, and phosphorus, which are all minerals that the kidney filters out.
Eating a Renal Diet
Sodium is a mineral that is found in most natural food, and in healthy amounts, helps the body regulate fluids. Excess sodium can build up in the blood stream and lead to serious complications such as dehydration, heart failure, and stroke. Processed foods often have a much higher sodium content than natural food. For more information on sodium, take a look at our blog “the Importance of Low Sodium Meals."
Potassium is a mineral that is found naturally in the body and in food. It helps maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in the bloodstream and helps muscle function. When potassium levels are too high, the kidney expels extra amounts through urine. With CKD, the excess potassium builds up, leading to muscle weakness, an irregular heartbeat, heart attacks, and death. In a Renal Diet, it’s important to limit the amount of potassium ingested through food to prevent these complications. High-potassium foods to avoid include: avocadoes, bananas, beans, citrus, spinach, and fish.
Phosphorus is an important mineral that keeps bones strong. Like potassium, excess phosphorus is one of the toxins that the kidney filters out of the body. When there is too much phosphorus in the body, it can lead to weak bones and large calcium deposits in the blood, lungs, eyes, and heart. These side effects can lead to even more serious problems, such as an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, or death.
Phosphorus can be found in many foods both naturally and as an additive or preservative. It naturally occurs in many high-protein foods such as meats, poultry, fish, nuts, beans, and dairy. In this form, it can be absorbed more easily than as an additive or preservative. In most processed foods, fast foods, and canned and bottled drinks, phosphorus can be found as an additive. A Renal Diet limits both forms of phosphorus, especially the preservative form.
Heart to Home Meals is here to help you eat a Renal Diet
At Heart to Home Meals, we’re not simply focused on offering delicious and nutritious meals—we’re also focused on how they can be an important part of your health maintenance. For seniors who are trying to eat a renal diet, we have a variety of meals that you can browse here.
Regardless of your specific dietary needs, all of our meals have nutritional information easily available to help you make a health-conscious choice, while still being able to look forward to your meal.