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The Definitive Guide To Dialysis: Types Of Dialysis, Indications, Side-Effects And More

The Definitive Guide To Dialysis: Types Of Dialysis, Indications, Side-Effects And More

I would like to introduce to you to registered nurse, Lynda Lampert. I’ve invited Lynda to share some of her experiences and knowledge as a nurse in a busy city hospital for today’s article on all things ‘dialysis’. I’ve never accepted a guest post on this blog before, but when I have access to someone who has been in the “trenches” of a busy hospital, working with dialysis patients, and can present this information in a way that can help those in the kidneycoach community… well, I’d be crazy not too.

Lynda graduated top of her class in nursing school, and has enjoyed researching ever since. Lynda: “I’ve written for Livestrong and Ehow, in addition to numerous private clients. I am currently working on an query for a national magazine and interviewing experts, such as doctors and patients. I enjoy researching health, supplements, diet, fitness, and other medical related topics.”

And so I welcome the first of hopefully many guest posts by Lynda, to help give fresh insights into kidney disease in the hope to better your health and living.

Take it away Lynda!

Your doctor looks at you kindly, but you can sense a hesitation in his eyes. You get the foreboding feeling that what he has to say next is not going to be something you want to hear. You have kidney failure. In fact, your kidneys are not working very much at all. I can tell you that I have treated many patients who have come to me with the same dire warning from their doctor. It isn’t the end of the world, however. It means that you need to start dialysis.

Dialysis is likely a dirty word to anyone who has ever had problems with their kidneys. You think, “If only I could avoid dialysis.” It is true that it is a complex, sometimes intrusive procedure, but it can actually save your life. You shouldn’t think of dialysis as something to be feared. Of course, it would be great if you could preserve your kidney function. Rather, you need a thorough understanding of what dialysis is and how it will affect your life.

What is Dialysis?

Now, let’s imagine here for a moment that your kidney is not working at all. I mean, it does so many useful things for your body: filtering wastes, controlling electrolytes, and balancing the water in your body. When you have failing kidneys, all these processes go haywire. What’s the solution? Simple: find something to take the place of the kidneys that can no longer do their job. One way – the obvious way, I suppose – is to simply put in another flesh and blood kidney to do the work. This is a great solution, but honestly, there just aren’t enough kidneys to go around.

In this modern age, to save lives that would otherwise be lost to complete kidney failure, someone invented a machine to do the exact same things that the anatomical kidneys do. Great age we live in, huh?

The dialysis machine:
• Takes all the blood from your body
• Filters the blood
• Removes water
• Balances electrolytes
• Returns that blood safely into circulation

Some systems, such as peritoneal dialysis, don’t require a machine, but a special catheter inside your abdomen. Even now, these machines are becoming so sophisticated that they have home hemodialysis machines. If you have kidney failure, you are in luck with these treatments around to help you.

Indications for Dialysis

You may wonder just what your doctor saw in your history to indicate that you need dialysis. Indications for dialysis are usually when your kidneys are at the end of their working life. You have reached a point called “end stage” kidney disease, which means that the organs are functioning at only 10 to 15 percent of their normal workload. Your doctor determines this mostly by lab work, such as:
• Blood urea nitrogen,
• Creatinine,
• Creatinine clearance
• Estimated glomerular filtration rate

These lab tests show how well your kidneys are able to remove wastes from the body and how well it filters your blood.

Among other indications for dialysis include physical symptoms, such as:
• Swelling and edema in your legs and hands.
• High blood pressure
• High Potassium

Swelling indicates that your kidneys are not adequately balancing the fluids in your body and allowing them to accumulate. Too much potassium can lead to deadly heart rhythm disorders, and a high blood pressure can result in stroke, in addition to weakening the heart muscle.

Types of Dialysis

The two most common types of dialysis are hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. However, home hemodialysis is now becoming an option with the advent of smaller, less expensive hemodialysis machines. For most patients, though, you will have to go to a hospital or hemodialysis center two to three times per week to remove fluid and filter your blood. If you miss your appointment for dialysis, it can cause a dangerous build-up of wastes and fluid.

Hemodialysis is the most common of all types of dialysis. It generally takes three to five hours because the entire volume of your blood is run through the machine. Peritoneal dialysis is another type of dialysis that is often used, and it is much more convenient than hemodialysis. You can actually perform peritoneal dialysis at home without the need for a dialysis center. It involves a catheter placed in your abdomen, and you essentially put the dialysis material into your body through this portal. The dialysate dwells in your body, exchanging fluids and wastes by osmosis, and then you drain the fluid out. Many more people are opting for peritoneal dialysis now that many of the peritoneal dialysis side effects have been addressed.

How Hemodialysis Works

Hemodialysis is a complex procedure, and it really is a wonder of modern medicine. Using an access port somewhere on the body, two needles are inserted to access the blood stream. One needle is the outflow needle, and the second needle returns the blood to the body in the hemodialysis procedure. The hemodialysis machine takes small amounts of your blood out from this access port, and it brings the blood into the machine.

Once the blood is in the machine, it runs through a series of tubes and filters to change the electrolyte balance in your body, remove waste, and take off some fluids. The blood passes through an apparatus known as a dialyzer, and this cartridge holds the dialysis solution, or dialysate. It is this solution that pulls the wastes and electrolytes from your body. It does this by the force of osmosis. Basically, this means that the concentration of the chemicals in the dialyzer is lower than the concentration in the blood. That difference causes the chemicals in your blood to move across a membrane with holes in it, and the dialysate catches the particles and holds them. The blood is then returned safely to your body through the return port. The machine removes blood and fluid very slowly to ensure that your blood pressure does not drop too low and you pass out.

Hemodialysis Side Effects

Hemodialysis side effects can be separated into two categories: short-term and long-term. In the short-term, the most common side effect is low blood pressure. When the machine pulls water out of your blood, your veins and arteries don’t have time to accommodate the drop in fluid. This causes you to have a “big container,” or your blood stream, and not enough fluid to fill it. Usually, your blood pressure will stabilize later in the day after dialysis, but it can be quite uncomfortable, inconvenient, and scary for some.

Other short-term dialysis side effects include:
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Cramps
• Electrolyte imbalances
• Infection
• Bleeding at the access site
• An air bubble that makes it into your bloodstream

Your doctor can prescribe medications for nausea or you can use natural remedies, such as ginger. You might have cramps and electrolyte imbalances if the machine pulls off too much sodium or potassium. These can lead to irregular heartbeat, dehydration, and heart palpitations. On the whole, most people feel better after a dialysis run.

Long-term dialysis side effects include anemia, or a drop in the hemoglobin that carries oxygen to your cells. This is because the red blood cells get damaged from passing through the machine and are no longer usable. You might need a shot to help with anemia, iron transfusions, or even blood products.

Other long-term dialysis side effects include:
• Itching
• Weakening of the bones from calcium depletion
• Difficulty sleeping

Access for Hemodialysis

One of the most important cogs in the dialysis process is maintaining access for the blood transfer to occur. A few different ways exist to accomplish this task. One of the most popular is the arterio-venous fistula, or AV fistula. This is a vein in your arm that is surgically joined to an artery. It causes a rounded nub in your arm, usually at the bend of the elbow, which feels like a cat purring from the rush of arterial blood past it. AV fistulas are great because with just two needles, the dialysis nurse can quickly and easily establish access and perform dialysis. The problems with AV fistula are that they have to be surgically created, and sometimes they clot off and stop working. This can be very frustrating for dialysis patients because they have to resort to other methods to establish access.

Another way to gain access to the bloodstream is through an internal jugular vein catheter. This is a port that is placed just under your collarbone and has two floppy access ports protruding from it. Again, clotting of this catheter can happen, but it is not as common as with AV fistulas. With a dialysis catheter, you just get a new one placed. Unfortunately, these catheters are prone to infections that can lead to sepsis, or blood infection. This is a life threatening situation, and all precautions must be taken to avoid it. That is why the preferred method is the AV fistula.

Tips for Hemodialysis

If you are getting hemodialysis or want to know how to get through it a little easier, you should keep a few things in mind. You don’t want to eat foods that contain a great deal of potassium, such as bananas, oranges, and potatoes, because this only makes the levels of potassium higher in your blood. This can lead to you feeling sick, but it can also increase your risk for heart irregularities.

To raise your blood pressure post-dialysis, you could drink more water to add volume to your veins, but many kidney patients are on a fluid restriction. You should only do this if your doctor is okay with you drinking more water than your allowance. For problems with low blood pressure, change positions carefully. Sit up from a lying position then dangle your feet off the side of the bed for a few minutes. Stand up slowly and hold on to something stable. This should keep you from passing out.

When you have an AV fistula or access port, you have to take precautions to keep those access sites viable for dialysis. Without them, you would have no way to receive your life-sustaining treatment. With AV fistulas, make sure that you don’t allow anyone to take a blood pressure or draw blood from the arm that has the fistula. This can interfere with the blood flow and possibly lead to a clot. Also, don’t wear tight sleeves, tight jewelry, or anything restrictive on your fistula arm. With an access port, you should make sure that you and your caretakers wear a mask and gloves when accessing your port to prevent the spread of infection. Protecting your port from infection could save your life.

How Peritoneal Dialysis Works

Peritoneal dialysis is a whole different system. You would almost think that it wouldn’t work when you hear of it, but it is actually an effective way of cleaning and filtering the blood just like hemodialysis. The idea for peritoneal dialysis is based on the anatomical configuration of the abdomen. All of the organs in your belly – intestines, liver, and spleen – are covered with a thick membrane known as the peritoneum. This membrane is highly vascular, which means that it has a great deal of blood vessels running through it. It is also semi-permeable, which means that wastes, electrolytes, and fluid can pass easily through it.

When you get surgically set up for the peritoneal dialysis procedure, the surgeon inserts a catheter into this membrane and brings the hub of it to the surface. The hub is locked down under rigorous, anti-infective clamps to keep bugs out of your belly. For dialysis, you take the dialysate, much like the solution that is in the machine in hemodialysis, and allow the solution to drain into your abdomen by gravity. That solution sits inside your abdomen and pulls the wastes and fluid from your body by way of the blood that is coursing through the peritoneum. After five or six hours, you hook up to another bag and drain all of the solution out. You simply discard the bag. Most doctors want you to do four to six “exchanges” like this per day to maintain your health.

Peritoneal Dialysis Side Effects

The most common and severe peritoneal dialysis side effects are:
• Infection
• Weight gain
• Weakening of abdominal muscles

Since you have a port that is open to your abdomen – normally a sterile space – and the blood flow through it is so great, it is a place where bacteria can enter your body and quickly become a problem. As for your abdominal muscles, they become strained and give out from holding the fluid in your abdomen for hours at a time.

You may wonder if you are a good candidate for this type of dialysis. If you cannot handle the rapid fluid changes caused by hemodialysis, this may be an option for you. It is also a great alternative if you don’t want to upset your lifestyle and you are able to care for yourself. If you have scarring in the abdomen or are debilitated to the point that you cannot effectively care for yourself, then hemodialysis is the way to go. Talk to your doctor and see if peritoneal dialysis is right for your level of kidney function, overall health, and social constraints.

Access for Peritoneal Dialysis

Like the access with hemodialysis, a surgeon needs to establish your access for this type of dialysis. It will involve a short surgery, usually same day, and the surgeon will put the small catheter inside your abdomen. You will have a single port with a universal adapter on the end to attach to the dialysate bags for your exchanges. It is important to keep this area and the port scrupulously clean because any bacteria that get inside your peritoneum will wreak havoc with you system.

Be on the lookout for signs of infection, such as:
• Chills
• Fever
• Redness
• Swelling
• Drainage
• Nausea
• Vomiting

If you notice that the cuff from the port is pushed out, you need to let your doctor know you are having trouble with your dialysis.

When you are manipulating your port, such as taking the cap off, cleaning the cap, or attaching to the dialysate, be sure that you and those around you wear masks to prevent breathing bacteria onto the port. In addition, if you are doing the transfer, you should wear gloves and wash your hands prior to touching the port’s dressing. Keeping clean and maintaining a sterile environment is absolutely essential to effective, long-term, complication-free peritoneal dialysis.

Tips for Peritoneal Dialysis

Besides wearing a mask and gloves to take care of your exchanges, you can easily work peritoneal dialysis into your life. You can do this type of dialysis in two ways: continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis and continuous cycling peritoneal dialysis. With the ambulatory type, you drain in the dialysate and go about your daily life. With cycling, you are hooked up to a machine while you sleep and the machine does the cycling for you. Whatever method you and your doctor choose, it takes less time and inconvenience than hemodialysis.

When performing your exchanges, you should make sure you warm the bags of dialysate before allowing them to dwell. If the solution is cold or even room temperature, it can make your stomach cramp from the changes between room temperature and body temperature. Most doctors will also recommend that you change the universal adapter with every exchange to prevent it from harboring bacteria. When you are done with your exchange, you should weigh and record the weight of the discard bag. This is so that you and your doctor can keep track of how much fluid the solution is pulling from your body.

Peritoneal Dialysis vs. Hemodialysis

Now that you know a little about each type of dialysis, you might be wondering what the best dialysis is for you. What are the pros and cons when looking at peritoneal dialysis vs. hemodialysis? Hemodialysis is a gold standard for all dialysis. It is the best process and the one with the most data behind it. It is actually the dialysis most doctors prefer because the rates of peritoneal dialysis are not high. However, it is intrusive, inconvenient, and sometimes physically demanding. The change in blood pressure can sometimes cause side effects, such as vertigo and passing out, that make this type of dialysis contraindicated.

Peritoneal dialysis seems like the star. You can do it on your own time, when you want to, and you don’t have to be bothered with going to a dialysis center. However, sometimes it is easy to get lax with your exchanges and become non-compliant. In other words, you feel fine so you just stop doing it. This can lead to dangerous consequences, so if you are not responsible or able to perform the manual tasks on your own, you can end up risking your kidneys and your life. Peritoneal dialysis is also well known for infections, and for some patients, the risk of that is just too great to even try this type of dialysis.

Thanks for reading, I sincerely hope my post was useful for you!

Final Message from Duncan:
Once again Lynda, thank you for taking the time to write this massive post and share it with the Kidney Coach community! If you have any questions, comments, or thoughts, please leave them below. I look forward to next week’s article where we dicuss the foundations of a healthy dialysis diet.

Oh! And please don’t forget to ‘LIKE’, ‘Tweet’ or ‘Share’ this article if you have enjoyed it, or if it has been of help to you. Many thanks!!!

 

References:
National Kidney & Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse; Treatment Methods for Kidney Failure: Hemodialysis; December 2011
http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/hemodialysis/index.aspx

National Kidney & Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse; Treatment Methods for Kidney Failure: Peritoneal Dialysis; September 2010
http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/peritoneal/

National Kidney Foundation; Dialysis; 2012
http://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/dialysisinfo.cfm

MedlinePlus; Dialysis; David Zieve, MD, MHA and Herbert Y. Lin, MD, PHD; September 2011
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007434.htm

Mayo Clinic; Peritoneal Dialysis; December 2010
http://www.mayoclinic.com/print/peritoneal-dialysis/MY00282/METHOD=print&DSECTION=all

 

high potassium levels

The Definitive Guide On Potassium In Kidney Disease

high potassium levels
Let’s get one thing straight, you NEED potassium, even in kidney disease. Further to that, you do not need to run for the hills if a certain food has high potassium levels. Eating a well balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables is a GOOD thing, and may even help you reverse your kidney disease…

Confused because it goes against everything you have read and have been told? Don’t be, there is good reason, and I’ll do my best to explain…

The purpose of this article: to dispel the mis-conceptions around lowering potassium in kidney disease; detail simple easy to follow steps on how to lower potassium levels naturally through diet and other techniques; to educate you on all things potassium, so the next time you are in front of your doctor you can keep up, and maybe even teach him or her a thing or two.

What Is Potassium And Why Do I Need It?

If you are new to this blog, it is important to know that before I start to get too deep into subject matter, I like first to bring it back a little so I can discuss the fundamentals. This gives you a good frame work to understand some of the principles that I talk about, and allows you to make better judgment calls when I, or your doctor, says something. This allows you to be in control of your health. The way it should be, yes?

What is potassium?
• Potassium at its most basic level is a soft silvery-white metal (mineral), sharing a very similar chemical structure to sodium. Behind only to calcium and phosphorus, it is the most abundant of all the minerals totalling 225 grams of your body weight – that’s the weight of the palm of your hand.
• Potassium is also known as an ‘electrolyte’, due to its ability to be electrically conductive. An important feature in the human body, considering you and I are a network of electrical pulses.
• Potassium naturally occurs in nature, and is found present in many foods (see further on for a list of foods).
• Potassium is 19th on the periodic table (K is the chemical symbol for Potassium in Latin)
• Fact: 1/3 of the body’s total energy is required to hold the location of potassium and sodium in and around our cells.
• Note: Normal serum potassium levels are: 3.5 and 5.5 mEq/L (reference range)

Why do I need it?
Our body depends on this mineral for its survival… no potassium, no humans. Amazingly through our evolution we have utilized the earth from which we have sprung to carry out and allow certain functions to occur in the body. You may have heard that potassium is good for the heart, good for muscle contractions, and therefore good for lowering blood pressure, and even that it is beneficial in nerve conduction. All of which are true, but there is so much more that this mineral does for you.

Here is a list of other health benefits and actions of Potassium:
• Regulates pH balance
• Helps to thin the blood
• Maintains water/fluid balance
• Eye health
• Increases secretion of hormones: ADH, FSH and aldosterone
• Regulates blood sugar
• Aids protein synthesis
• Regulates cell permeability
• Acts as a capacitor within our cells to store energy

The Ultimate A to Z Guide to Chronic Renal Failure (Part 2)

The Ultimate A to Z Guide to Chronic Renal Failure (Part 2)

This article is a continuation of my previous article entitled The Ultimate A to Z Guide to Chronic Renal Failure (Part 1), in this article I continue where I left off and detail letters N through to Z. Enjoy…

 

N is for Natural Treatments
Ahhh my favourite topic! I LOVE natural medicines; there is something about working with the power of nature that really gets me really excited! (I’m a little weird I know)

There is a full gamut of natural remedies and techniques, such as herbal medicine, nutrition, diet, homeopathics, flower essences, and a whole lot more, that have for many of my clients, improved kidney function, reversed kidney disease, and safe-guarded from further chronic renal failure.

I have been using natural medicines now for over 10 years, and through that time I have learnt a thing or two, the best discovery was that by using certain natural medicines I was able to affect change in the health of my client’s kidneys and lives!

Side Note: This all started when my wife’s nanna was diagnosed kidney disease four years ago, and we had to find a solution. She was at stage three, bordering on stage 4, and well, thankfully today she does not have chronic renal failure any longer.

The important thing to note is this. If you have been recently diagnosed (or had chronic renal failure for many years for that matter) please know that there is an alternative out there that your doctor wouldn’t have discussed. You don’t have to put up with “There is nothing we can do… When your kidneys get bad enough, your options are dialysis and transplantation…”

When the world says, “Give up,” Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.” ~Author Unknown

If you would like to find out more of the exact program I use to help thousands of people world-wide improve their kidney health, please check out my site here.

O is for Om (Meditation)
Ommmmmmmm….Meditation

Meditating is any technique which enables us to relax our body and our mind, and to free our mind of unnecessary thoughts. Eastern civilizations have been practicing this for thousands of years; just “knowing” that it improves the health of the mind, body and soul. They often practiced to achieve certain outcomes e.g. rejuvenation of the mind and nervous system, to let go of disease-causing thought patterns, muscular relaxation and self-development.

Chronic renal failure responds dramatically to the practice of meditation, and for this reason it is recommended to become part of your daily or weekly routine.

Today studies now prove what the ancients already knew, showing the following physiological changes:

  • Slower heart rate
  • Slower breathing rate
  • Lowered cortisol levels in the blood
  • Increased alpha brain waves, a brain wave associated with relaxation
  • Among many other physiological changes

P is for Protein & Phosphorus
Protein: Another important nutrient one must monitor its consumption of, is Protein. Protein is a misunderstood nutrient when it comes to chronic renal failure, as in some situation one needs to reduce protein, and in others it needs to be increased. What to do? Well, first up you need to speak to your naturopath, nutritionist or doctor for the best requirements for your condition. They will be able to tell you exactly your protein needs based on your stage of chronic renal failure.

For a complete breakdown of the levels of protein you need to be consuming for your stage of kidney disease please see my in-depth article: The Definitive Guide on Protein and Kidney Disease

Phosphorus: The kidneys regulate the mineral phosphorus in the blood stream, and for that reason when one has chronic renal failure this ability can become impaired, causing phosphorus levels to rise. Phosphorus at “healthy” levels helps build strong teeth and bones (among many other benefits), but when levels become high, phosphorus can the opposite effect, by leaching out calcium from the teeth and bones. This “leeched” calcium also makes its way to the blood stream causing abnormal calcium deposits, and too much phosphorus can cause itchy skin, bone pain, heart issues, or even death.

The important thing to note is that not all sufferers of chronic renal failure will develop high phosphate levels, and therefore you need to always confirm your levels with a blood test.

To know the recommended phosphorus daily allowance for stage of kidney disease, please see this article.

Q is for Qi Gongchronic renal failure
Qigong is another practice that I recommend for those suffering with chronic renal failure, for it is rejuvenating qualities for the body and mind; which is oh so necessary for individuals with chronic renal failure.

What is Qigong? Qigong is the practice of aligning the breath, body, and mind as one, and harnessing and working with the vital force (Chi) that exists within and all around us. Through this, a deeper connection to yourself and life is established and greater awareness and peace is achieved. Although Qigong is not as well known as Tai Chi, Qigong and Tai Chi share a similar philosophy, technique, and origin. In fact many people mistake Qigong for Tai Chi when practiced.

In my blog post 10 Ways To Improve Kidney Function Without Leaving Home I talk more in depth about the benefits of Qigong in chronic renal failure, and provide a video showing how enhance your kidney energy through Qigong.

blood tests

The Ultimate A to Z Guide to Chronic Renal Failure (Part 1)

5835629

In today’s article I want to talk to you about chronic renal failure; what it is, what causes it, the best blood tests, and a whole lot more. However, today I want to do something a little different, I want to break it down in to an A to Z guide so you can quickly reference the major key topics – so in that way you have a valuable resource to refer back to in the future.

Interesting…

Chronic renal failure is an interesting condition, it affects 2 out of every 1,000 people in the United States; 11% of all deaths in Australia are due to, or associated with, renal failure; 20 to 30 percent of people with diabetes will develop kidney disease; 1 in 9 adults have a minimum of one renal failure sign or symptom; it is one the quickest growing diseases in the world… yet it is still largely not a condition that many understand, or have been appropriately informed about.

Definition:

But before I go into any specifics with this condition, I wanted to quickly define exactly what I am referring to when I say “Chronic Renal Failure”. For the purposes of this article, chronic renal failure means any dis-ease of the kidneys that causes diminishment of kidney function, as shown by an estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate test (eGFR). In contrast, the term “End Stage Renal Failure” only describes kidneys that have a kidney function of less than 15%.

The Ultimate A-Z Guide To Chronic Renal Failure

A is for Alkaline
Alkalinity is an important concept to understand and implement when dealing with chronic kidney failure. Alkalinity is a must for your body’s tissues to survive and thrive. In fact, your body will do anything it can to keep your blood pH in the narrow window of 7.35 to 7.45pH – your body will literally break down its bones for the calcium contained within them to keep your body alkaline!

Normally however, keeping the body acid/alkaline balance within your body is the job of the kidneys. When your kidneys begin to diminish in function so too does their ability to excrete the acid and maintain the alkalinity in your blood. Therefore eating an alkaline diet is the best way to protect and improve the health of your kidneys.

To add further strain on already strained kidneys, many of today’s lifestyle choices are acid forming as well as changes to our environment:

  • Diet: e.g. alcohol, sugar, coffee, red meat, grains
  • Chemicals: e.g. industrial chemicals, cleaning products, paint, makeup and cosmetics
  • Pesticides
  • Heavy metals
  • Excess exercise
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking

For more information on alkalinity and the alkaline diet, please see my article here.

B is for Blood tests
I cannot emphasise how important it is to get your blood regularly tested. Blood tests help in the following ways:blood tests

  • Monitors the progression of your condition
  • Tracks that your treatments are working
  • Informs you of any abnormal developments in your health
  • Allows you to tailor your diet to suit your needs e.g. potassium, phosphorus, sodium, vitamin D, and calcium levels
  • By knowing the current state of your body, and understanding that state, you’re better equipped to make positive changes. It is shown people feel more in control and are more likely to make the changes when they understand their condition and all facets related to their condition.
  • It will show you your current percentage of kidney function

The best blood tests to assess your renal failure are:

  1. Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR)
  2. Creatinine
  3. 24hr creatinine clearance
  4. Urinalysis
  5. BUN
  6. Kidney biopsy
  7. Imaging

Please see my article here for a detailed description of each test in chronic renal failure: Top 7 Kidney Tests To Measure Your Kidney Function

Other important tests include: Potassium levels, Sodium levels, Phosphate levels, Vitamin D levels, Calcium levels, Parathyroid hormone levels, and Hemoglobin levels.

renal diet

Top 7 Tips For A Healthy Renal Diet

renal diet

Today I wanted to clear up a few things in regards to what constitutes a healthy renal diet. I receive emails daily from confused and at their “wits end” kidney disease sufferers, wanting to know what they can eat. Especially what they CAN eat, not what they CAN’T eat (fair enough too).

This problem lays not in whether or not the right information is out there, but unfortunately in that all the good information has been diluted by all the garbage out there. Mass article writers, without any medical training, and even worse, (some) large kidney health organisations are to blame. Articles are prepared to supply a demand, but are not based on any proper healthy renal diet knowledge.

A diet can be healthy for one person, and harmful to another, a diet can be deemed healthy in terms of the right proportions of carbohydrates, fats, and protein, but totally miss the mark in taking into account foods that have a directed negative impact to the kidneys. This is the problem, and this why you are reading one article that says “X”, and another that says “Y”.

And so my goal today is to provide reliable, trustworthy renal diet information based on sound naturopathic and nutritional teachings to provide you with the top 7 tips on how to eat a healthy renal diet – so that you may at least have your foundations right; because without healthy dietary foundations, then any renal failure diet guidelines you follow… will fail.

Here Are My Top 7 Healthy Renal Diet Tips:

1. Consume: Everyone is telling you want you can’t eat, so I decided to tell you first what you can eat. Nothing’s better to knock the wind out of your sails while you are trying to come to terms with your current health situation, than to be faced we a wall of “Can’t have’s”, and “Should not’s”.

The list of foods below is deemed “healthy” in kidney disease, but also some of the foods are especially beneficial for kidney disease. These foods are marked with an asterix*.

Fruits: Apples, without skin; Apricot; Blueberries*; Grapes, red or green; Peach; Pears, asian; Pineapple; Plums; Raspberries*; Strawberries; Watermelon*.
Vegetables: Asparagus*; Cabbage, red; Cauliflower; Celery; Garlic; Lettuce, iceberg; Mushrooms; Onion; Parsley; Radishes; Mung beans, sprouted.
Protein: Fish*; Chicken; Tempeh*; Tofu*.
Miscellaneous: Carob (good alternative to chocolate); Flaxseed Oil*; Hummus; Popcorn, air-popped; Rice, white; Sea Salt; Olive Oil; Olives; Horseradish; Tapioca pearls; Oregano; Curry Powder; Sesame seed kernels; Paprika; Macadamia nuts.

Of course there are more foods than this that you can eat while suffering with renal failure, the difference being is that these foods are “healthy”. It is also important to note that these foods also satisfy the requirements of potassium, phosphorus, and sodium content for renal diet (as explained below), but with most things in life, you can have too much of a good thing – therefore the foods are healthy when eaten at normal servings sizes per day. Don’t overdo anything, moderation is the key.

2. Avoid: Unfortunately this tip cannot be avoided, there are simply foods that are downright bad for your kidneys, and these need to be removed from your renal diet. Here are a list of foods deemed “bad” for kidney disease, and therefore should be avoided in your renal diet:
Red meat: See my article on negative effects of red meat here
Dairy: this includes, milk, butter, cream, ice-cream, yoghurt, and all dairy containing pre-made products.
Alcohol: ALL alcohol, including red wine.
Gluten: is found in flour based products; and therefore in the following grains: wheat, rye, spelt, kamut, oats, and barley. Safe gluten FREE grains and alternatives include: rice, corn, amaranth, millet, quinoa, sorghum, teff, and buckwheat.
Highly processed foods
Sugar

There are many more foods that I could list, but these main categories encompass the best part of them. If you can follow an unprocessed, whole food renal diet, then meal times will be a breeze. If you resist change, and resort to processed, take-away, and pre-packaged foods, then you will struggle, and fail to realise the benefits that a healthy renal diet can have on you and your kidneys.