News Before Dietary Restricitons

I am flabbergasted!  This month, I am the featured writer on the front (home) page of both www.KidneyTimes.com and www.RSNHope.org. Not only that, but the book this blog is based upon, “What Is It and How Did I Get It? Early Stage Kidney Disease” is now ready for print.  Hmmm, I wouldn’t mind a little help here if you know people in the right places to help expedite the process.  Anyone out there a publisher?  Agent?  Have a friend who is one?  Point me to them!

I’m laughing out loud as I re-read what I just wrote.  A little full of myself today, aren’t I?  Okay, enough of that – let’s get back to the business at hand, the renal diet.

Another potential problem concerns both salt and water.  If these are retained, you develop edema of the soft tissues of the body.  Due to gravity, this occurs in the ankles and feet during the day and the back at night.  Edema is dangerous if it occurs in the lungs.  Restricting salt [sodium] and making use of a diuretic to cause the kidneys to increase their output of both sodium and water can cure the problem, but as a CKD patient, consult your nephrologist before you take action.

Too much sodium can also increase your need for potassium. Potassium is something you need to limit when you have CKD despite the fact that potassium not only dumps waste from your cells but also helps the kidneys, heart and muscles to function normally. Too much potassium can cause irregular heartbeat and even heart attack. This can be the most immediate danger of not limiting your potassium.  Some of the highly limited foods are my favorites such as chocolate, caffeine, and chips.

Keep in mind that as you age (you already know I’m in my 60s), your kidneys don’t do such a great job of eliminating potassium. So, just by aging, you may have an abundance of potassium. Check your blood tests. 3.5-5 is considered a safe level of potassium. You may have a problem if your blood level of potassium is 5.1-6, and you definitely need to attend to it if it’s above 6.  Speak to your nephrologist (although he or she will probably bring it up before you do).

The National Kidney Foundation is one of the many places that offer a list of the amounts of potassium in certain foods.  Here’s a little piece of information you might enjoy: neither gin nor whiskey is high in potassium, but wine is. Not being a drinker, I don’t see this as important, but then again, alcohol is something CKD patients are supposed to avoid, not totally eliminate.

I found myself in exactly the opposite position: too little potassium with no reasoning behind it.  Maybe I’d been a bit too conscientious about draining the liquid from the canned fruits and vegetables I ate which is one way of avoiding potassium. I’d also been really careful about not having lots of low potassium foods at one time since that increases the amount of potassium you’re ingesting even though they are low potassium foods.

The nephrologist handed me a list of low, medium and high potassium foods and simply told me to eat more foods on the medium list.  I did, drank some of the liquid from the canned fruits I ate and served myself larger portions of low potassium foods. That seemed to solve the problem.  Had I been doing too good a job of limiting potassium rich foods?  Before this, I’d been missing bananas, the one food I craved during both my pregnancies.  When I needed to raise my potassium, I ate one and was surprised to discover it was the aroma, not the taste, which I had missed.

I have to admit I didn’t know anything about phosphorous. This is the second most plentiful mineral in the body and works closely with the first, calcium. Together, they produce strong bones and teeth. 85% of the phosphorous and calcium in our bodies is stored in the bones and teeth.  The rest circulates in the blood except for about 5% that is in cells and tissues. Again, phosphorous is important for the kidneys since it filters out waste via them. Phosphorous balances and metabolizes other vitamins and minerals including vitamin D which is so important to CKD patients. As usual, it performs other functions, such as getting oxygen to tissues and changing protein, fat and carbohydrate into energy.

Be aware that kidney disease can cause excessive phosphorus. And what does that mean for Early Stage CKD patients? Not much if the phosphorous levels are kept low. Later, at Stages 4 and 5, bone problems including pain and breakage may be endured since excess phosphorous means the body tries to maintain balance by using the calcium that should be going to the bones. There are other consequences, but this is the one most easily understood.

Milk and diary products contain phosphorous, which is why I’m limited to 4 ounces daily.  Other foods that I, for one, need to limit or avoid due to their high phosphorous level are colas, peanut butter (which I, unfortunately, had just discovered much to my delight before being diagnosed), nuts, and cheeses.  To give you an idea why, my phosphorous limit per day is 800 mg. Two pancakes contain 476 mg. or well over half my daily allotment.  Although both IHOP and Village Inn now make their pancakes from scratch, it’s very rarely that I spend so much of my phosphorous allotment on them.

On Tuesday, we’ll take a look at our protein restrictions.  Enjoy your weekend and  keep loving your life!

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Published in: on December 3, 2010 at 12:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

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