Chronic kidney disease patients can live longer with a healthy diet. The researchers analyzed seven studies that included over 15,000 chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients. The researchers wanted to evaluate the impact of a healthy diet – fruits, vegetables, fish, legumes, whole grains – on CKD (if any).
In six of the studies, a healthy diet was associated with 20 to 30 percent lower rate of early death, but the study did not directly prove that a healthy diet would extend life.
Study lead Dr. Giovanni Strippoli explained, “Chronic kidney disease now affects about 10 percent to 13 percent of the adult population and substantially increases risks of cardiovascular complications and early death. In the absence of randomized trials and large individual cohort studies, this study is the best available evidence to drive clinical decision-making by patients and doctors on whole dietary approaches in chronic kidney disease.”
CKD patients are advised to restrict certain nutrients from their diet as those have been associated with a greater harm to the kidneys. On the other hand, some researchers suggest that these restrictions do little to reduce a patient’s risk of death.
Some people with kidney disease have trouble processing proteins and may need substitutes. When a low-protein diet is suggested by a healthcare professional, you will need to replace those calories from proteins with calories from fruits, bread, grains, and vegetables. There are even cases where you can consume high-calorie desserts as long as you limit items that are made with dairy, chocolate, nuts, or bananas.
Let’s look at some important recommendations and diet restrictions for chronic kidney disease:
Fats: Use monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as olive oil, canola oil, and safflower oil.
Protein: Just prior to starting dialysis, a low-protein diet may be helpful. Once you’ve started dialysis, you will likely need to eat more protein to replace muscle and tissue that you lose. About eight to 10 ounces of high protein foods per day is recommended.
Calcium and phosphorus: Limiting some dairy foods may be suggested, since they can contain large amounts of phosphorus. Colas and soft drinks also have a lot of phosphorus. Calcium supplements may be a good idea to help prevent bone problems.
Sodium: Do not add salt to any food. Read food labels to find hidden salt and avoid foods that contain a lot of salt, sodium, or MSG. Be careful with salt substitutes, as many have high amounts of potassium.
Potassium: It is best to choose low potassium fruits such as apples, pears, plums, and blueberries. Vegetables, such as bean sprouts, cabbage, green beans, and lettuce are also low in potassium.
Fluids: As kidney disease gets worse, you may have to limit fluid intake, so keep track of how much you drink and find ways to reduce fluids if you need to. Remember, soups, gelatin desserts, and ice cream are all considered fluids.
Use common sense when making food choices. For example, you shouldn’t skip meals. If there are times when you just don’t feel hungry, at least try to eat four or five small meals instead of one or two big ones. There may be some people with kidney problems who have difficulty keeping their weight up. These individuals need to talk to their doctors and dieticians about the best ways to add calories to their diet. Anyone with chronic kidney disease should also talk to a physician before drinking alcohol.