WATCHING YOUR POTASSIUM INTAKE
Declining kidney function and some prescribed medications can alter potassium levels. Routine blood tests will determine if potassium needs to be increased or restricted. Some people with CKD may need to curb their intake of food and beverages that are high in potassium, because in diabetes or advanced CKD - stages four or five - the kidneys can have trouble getting rid of the extra potassium.
|Kidney Disease Diet Recipes|
High potassium levels in the blood can also affect heart function. Think of the heart as a big electrical circuit; if the potassium levels get too high, it can short circuit the heart and even lead to life-threatening arrhythmias - abnormal electrical rhythms of the heart. If your potassium levels tend to be high, your doctor will be monitoring you closely with blood work.
Normal Potassium Levels
As reported on your blood work report, a normal potassium level is between 3.5 and 5.0 milliequivalents (meq). Levels higher than 5.5 warrant close monitoring, more dietary restrictions of potassium, a change in medication, or active treatment for the potassium depending on how high the level is. Your doctor will discuss the various treatment options with you.
Reading Food Labels
When grocery shopping, read the food labels. You should know the nutritional value of what you are buying. Many food labels display the sodium content but not the potassium content. This, however, does not mean that those foods are without potassium or other electrolytes and minerals. Rather, it means that you have to search for more information regarding the nutritional value. To do so, you can visit the website of that particular product, or you can visit excellent websites like www.fns.usda.gov or www.nutritiondata.com.
LOWERING YOUR PROTEIN INTAKE
In the United States, most of us eat way more protein than we need. Having protein in the urine forces your kidneys to work harder, and in CKD they do not cope well with the accumulated protein overload. One of the mainstays of treatment is a diet lower in protein. If you have CKD, the general recommendation with regards to dietary protein is that you should take in no more than 0.6 to 0.8 g/kg of body weight daily. These calculations are again done using the metric system (just to make it more confusing!).
For calculations concerning body weight, the first step is to convert your body weight from pounds to kilograms. To do this, simply divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 to get your weight in kilograms (2.2 kg = 1 lb). For example, a body weight of 150 lbs, divided by 2.2, is equal to 68 kg of body weight. The amount of allowable protein, then, is 68 g x 0.8, which equals about 55 total g of protein daily.
There is a general misconception that protein can only be obtained from animal sources. Animals are good sources of protein, but they are often high in saturated fat and a main source of dietary cholesterol. Some plants, however, are equally good sources of protein and they have the added benefits of being low in saturated and high in fiber. One concern had been that by eliminating all animal sources of protein, you were not getting all of the different types of protein your body requires. By combining many plant sources, however, daily protein needs can be met.
In addition to plants, other non-animal sources of protein include soy, tofu (a soy-based food), and whole grains. If it is determined that you need additional protein in your diet, you can see that you have many supplemental sources to choose from, both soy- and vegetable-based. Always talk with your doctor before trying a new supplement.
A concern in restricting protein worth mentioning is the potential for malnutrition. Your doctor will order routine blood work to assess albumin and prealbumin levels. These tests measure the nutritional status in your body. High protein diets or body-building protein supplements are strictly off-limits unless otherwise directed by your doctor or dietitian. To find out more, you can check out Kidney Disease Diet Recipes.