Making healthy foods is all we look for, but if one has kidney disease, one needs to become more prudent about the food choices. Learning what foods are healthy and what not will assist the body keep the right balance of minerals and electrolytes in the body. The kidneys are involved in eliminating excess nutritional value one consumes so that our body remains functional, and the blood does not get toxic.
Protein is one essential nutrient we cannot remain optimal without. It enhances muscle strength, heals infections, and builds bone. The amount of protein one consumes depending upon several factors like age, gender, and muscle mass. Averagely, a person needs around 40 to 50 grams of protein each day.
But protein consumption is unfairly disturbed for chronic kidney disease patients. During chronic kidney disease, the kidney’s filters do become damaged, and if you consume protein in excess, the kidneys have to work hard to remove them.
When it comes to protein, two primary sources include animal and plant sources. Animal sources have all the essential amino acids the body needs. Animal sources have different fat amounts, such as red meat, whole dairy milk, eggs. Eggs have the highest amount of saturated fat, so they are not heart-friendly, while fish, poultry, and dairy products are low.
Likely, plant sources are more equipped with amino acids. Such sources may include lentils, nuts, butter, seeds, whole grains, beans, etc. For a kidney patient, a plant-based protein diet is recommended because such sources are low in saturated fat and high in fiber.
Protein and chronic kidney disease
When protein is consumed, waste products are generated. Healthy kidneys have millions of nephrons to filter this waste. After that, the waste excreted from the blood is removed as urine.
Just the opposite is the case with unhealthy kidneys. Unhealthy kidneys may not remove protein waste, which stockpiles in the blood. It does not mean you cannot consume protein at all; the only thing to be careful of is quantity. Based on the different stages of chronic kidney disease, nutritional requirements change. So, we suggest you consult a dietician before committing to dietary changes. If protein starts to buildup in the blood, you may feel nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, weakness, and a metallic taste in your mind.
High protein intake may lead to increased intraglomerular pressure and glomerular hyperfiltration. This can damage the structure of the glomerular and aggravate chronic kidney disease. Hence a low protein diet (0.6-0.8g/kg/day) is needed for the management of CKD.
Protein intake in different stages of chronic kidney disease
The five stages of CKD are defined on the basis of the glomerular filtration rate. GFR is calculated on the basis of serum creatinine in the blood.
In stage 1 CKD, GFR is above normal. However, some protein instances can be felt in the urine.
In stage 2 CKD, GFR is between 60 and 89. Stage 3 and 4 have GFR in the range 30-59 and 15-29, respectively.
In stage 1, 2, and 3, protein intake is limited to 12 to 15% of your calorie intake.
The last stage occurs when GFR dips to below 15. The kidneys do not work well at this stage, mainly, and your protein intake is restricted this time. In stage 4, your dietician may restrict protein to 10% percent only.
Kidney disease is a life-threatening condition, but you still can leave without dialysis if you take ayurvedic medicines and follow the CKD diet. Keep yourself nourished and reduce protein, sodium, potassium, phosphorus in your meal plans.
Protein during end-stage renal disease
If you have kidney failure already and taking dialysis for the same, your protein requirements may further change. Dialysis removes waste products from the blood, so your protein restriction is waived off. Dialysis may remove all the amino acids, so you need more protein in your diet by this time.
Diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and protein intake
If you have diabetes along with kidney disease, your CKD diet chart is based on the management of kidney disease and diabetes both. A healthy glucose level and blood pressure may control or slow down the progression of CKD. Even by then, you need to narrow down your diet plan.
What if you cannot have protein?
Although you are required to have limited protein foods, you can choose plant protein choices in your CKD diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a good option, including some lentils. You may be advised to eat healthy fat so that you get enough calories through your meals. The rest of the minerals can be consumed based on your health status and laboratory values.
Since too little protein can lead to malnutrition at any stage of CKD, ask your kidney dietitian to find out the amount and type of protein that is right for you. Only a renal dietician can help you in this case.
If you want any help related to diet and ayurvedic treatment for kidney disease, consult Doctor Puneet Dhawan and his dietician at Karma Ayurveda.