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Most kidney disorders are caused by patients with poorly controlled diabetes or hypertension. As such, it is important to eat a healthy diet which is low in salt and fat (to reduce the risk of high blood pressure) and low in sugar (to reduce risk of diabetes).
When you have kidney damage or on dialysis, the kidneys will have difficulty removing waste and fluid from your body. A good diet will help provide energy for your daily tasks, maintain a healthy weight, prevent muscle-mass loss and slow down the progression of kidney disease.
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Image Source: Live Strong
A kidney-friendly diet refers to eating the right amount of protein, phosphorous, calcium and potassium as well as drinking appropriate amount of fluids to control the build-up of waste and fluids in your body. You need to discuss with your doctor or dietitian on how to limit the amount of:
- sodium in foods and drinks
- protein in your diet
- high-phosphorus foods
- canned foods or fruits (best to avoid)
- liquid to prevent fluid build-up in your body which cause ankle swelling
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When you have kidney disease, you may not be getting enough minerals or vitamins in the food groups you are eating. Vitamins which are useful for patients with kidney disorders include:
a) Vitamin B Complex. Vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid work together with iron to prevent anaemia. The other vitamin B components such as thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and niacin help your body convert foods into energy more efficiently.
b) Iron. Iron works with Vitamin B complex to prevent anaemia.
c) Vitamin D & Calcium. Vitamin D and Calcium help to maintain bone density and bone strength.
Phosphorus is a mineral which works together with calcium and vitamin D for the development and maintenance of your bones. Excess phosphorus in the blood results in calcium being pulled out of your bones making them weak and susceptible to fractures. The normal phosphorus level in adults should be between 2.5 to 4.5 mg/dl.
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Image Source: Huffpost Australia
Phosphorus is naturally found in protein rich foods such as meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, fish, legumes and nuts. Phosphorus found in animal foods is absorbed more easily by our body compared to those found in plant foods. Besides that, phosphorus is also used as additives in processed foods, canned foods and beverages. Phosphorus from food additives is completely absorbed by our body hence avoiding it can help lower your intake of phosphorus. It is usually listed on the food packaging at the ingredient labels as ‘phosphorus’ or you may look for words with ‘PHOS’.
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Potassium is a mineral which is essential in maintaining regular heart beat and muscle function. Abnormal potassium levels can cause irregular heart beat or even heart attack and muscle cramps. The recommended intake for normal adults is between 3,500 to 4,500 mg per day. A potassium restricted diet is around 2,000 mg per day.
What is a safe potassium level in the blood?
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Potassium in foods
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Listed below are some good practices to help reduce potassium in your diet:
- Chopping & slicing foods into smaller pieces, soaking them in a large volume of water for a 1 – 2 hours in several changes of water and straining the vegetables to discard the water before cooking, can leach potassium into water.
- When using canned vegetables or fruits, drain away the brine or syrup
- Peel off the skin from fruits
- Do not take the gravy from vegetable dishes or soup
- Use whole spices rather than ground spices
- Avoid herbal and traditional remedies (ginseng roots, banana stem, akar kayu and others)
If you are on haemodialysis, do discuss with your doctor or dietician because you may also need to:
- add protein to your diet because hemodialysis removes protein
- choose foods with the right amount of potassium
- take vitamins made for people with kidney failure
- find healthy ways to add calories to your diet because you may experience reduced appetite
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