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Your Diet and Renal Disease


To eat or not to eat

You may have been diagnosed with renal disease and now you are wondering what to eat. What to eat is dependent on a number of factors; the type of renal condition you have, specific indicators in your blood chemistry and your general state of health and other health conditions you may have. As such it is important to note that there is no one specific diet for renal patients. The diet is tailored to suit each patient’s specific condition.
In this article I will try to tackle a few areas on renal nutrition based on frequently asked questions by patients.

Chronic kidney disease
Some blood chemistry indicators important in choosing the food to eat are; potassium, phosphate, calcium, sodium, bicarbonate, and albumin.

Potassium is an important mineral needed in the body’s metabolism. It is very important to the body but when somebody has renal disease, the blood potassium content can go very high which is dangerous and can affect how the heart works. If you have been told you need to lower your blood potassium, then you need to avoid foods that contain more than 200mg of potassium per serving.

Foods that are high in potassium

Banana, dried fruits, raisins, pawpaw, avocados, oranges

Fruit juice cocktails, beer, malted, tomato juice, coconut, colored fizzy drinks

Mushrooms, beans of all kinds, nuts of all kinds, plantain, potato, and other tubers, cocoa, coffee

Cooking methods that lower potassium content
Vegetables: boil and drain stock
Plantain, potato and other starchy tubers: soak in water for about two hours then boil in fresh water.
Avoid potato and plantain chips and crisps which tend to have a higher potassium content.
Your Dietitian can help you make the right food choices and serving size to choose.

Phosphorus is another mineral that is of concern to many people who are living with renal disease. When the kidneys are not functioning, as well as they should phosphate levels could rise beyond normal.
High phosphate levels could cause itchy skins and eyes, sore muscles and joints and can affect the heart.
Blood phosphate levels could be maintained at normal values by reducing the intake of foods high in phosphorus and by taking phosphate binders with your meals. Phosphate binders should be taken food. The medicine will not work if it is taken without food because; it is supposed to bind the phosphate in the food. It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions concerning all your medications.

Reduce the intake of high phosphate foods.
High phosphate foods to reduce are:

Nuts of all kinds, melon seeds(agushi), neri, dawadawa, cocoa, milky beverages and snacks, egg yolks, oats and wheat bran, cheese, bones and fula. Phosphorus is high in most high protein foods. Talk to your dietician about the safe amounts to take.

Cardiovascular risk
Chronic Kidney Disease increases the risk for cardiovascular disease. Try to limit foods that are high in saturated fats, trans fat and cholesterol. These include; animal fat, remove skin from poultry, processed meats like corned beef, sausages and luncheon meat, rich biscuits and other pastries, offal or organ meat, sea foods such as shrimps, crabs, squids and octopus.
Include monosaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and omega fatty acids in your diet. Your dietician can help you with the right amounts to take.

Your doctor may limit your intake of fluids. Try to stick to the doctor’s recommendation. Your fluid intake includes water drinks or any food that can pour such as porridges and puddings. Let your dietician help you manage your fluid intake.

Energy intake and protein
Energy needs may increase, and there may be the need for protein restriction or increase. Your dietician can determine these needs for you and advise you appropriately.
A few changes in your diet can help you manage your renal condition. You have to eat adequately. Try not to over restrict yourself so as to avoid malnutrition. See your dietician for more information.


By Ernestina Eduful, RD. Senior Dietician KBTH.