Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Abnormal Renal Function Diet

A person with advanced kidney disease may benefit from the following diet.

General Dietary Restrictions
When the kidneys are not working normally, waste products build up in the bloodstream. Kidney dialysis removes waste from the bloodstream, while a kidney disease diet reduces the amount of waste that builds up in the bloodstream.

Calories are a measurement of the energy value of food. A healthy diet must give your body enough calories for your energy needs. Your doctor will provide guidelines for the number of calories that your diet should contain.

When the kidneys are no longer functioning efficiently, fluids accumulate in the body. Fluid overload can cause congestive heart failure and fluid in the lungs. This can lead to difficulty breathing and swelling of the hands, legs and feet. People with kidney disease must limit the amount of fluid in the diet. Measuring your weight every day can allow you to identify weight gain caused by a diet that contains too much fluid.

The balance of fluid in the body is regulated by sodium, which is in salt. Excessive amounts of salt in the diet can cause the body to retain water. Foods that contain large amounts of salt include canned food, processed meat and smoked meat, as well as foods with salt toppings, such as chips, pretzel or nuts. People with kidney disease must limit their sodium intake to 2 grams per day.

Potassium plays a role in the function of nerves and muscles, including the heart. High potassium levels may cause muscle weakness and abnormal heart rhythms. Potassium is found in almost all foods. Your doctor will monitor your potassium level closely.

The body uses protein to make substances that regulate cell activity. Normally, protein byproducts are excreted in the urine as urea. Urea becomes toxic when it builds up in the bloodstream. People with kidney disease should consume no more protein than is needed by the body. Your doctor will provide guidelines for the correct amount of protein in your diet.

Calcium and Phosphorus
Calcium and phosphorus maintain healthy bones, muscles, and nerves. Renal disease can cause an imbalance between these minerals. People with kidney disease usually take calcium supplements, and reduce the amount of phosphorus in the diet.

Vitamins and Minerals
People with kidney disease may require vitamin supplements, but they should take these supplements only as directed by a doctor.

Continue to Abnormal Renal Function Taking Control

Last Updated: Mar 24, 2009 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Abnormal Renal Function References
  1. Bailie GR, Uhlig K, Levey AS. Clinical practice guidelines in nephrology: evaluation, classification, and stratification of chronic kidney disease. Pharmacotherapy. 2005 Apr;25(4):491-502. [15977910]
  2. Boydstun II. Chronic kidney disease in adolescents. Adolesc Med Clin. 2005 Feb;16(1):185-99, xii. [15844391]
  3. Snively CS, Gutierrez C. Chronic kidney disease: prevention and treatment of common complications. Am Fam Physician. 2004 Nov 15;70(10):1921-8. [15571058]
  4. Toto RD. Management of hypertensive chronic kidney disease: role of calcium channel blockers. J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2005 Apr;7(4 Suppl 1):15-20. [15858398]
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