Diet & Nutrition
There is little point in reinventing the wheel as they say, and the Kidney Care UK website is an excellent resource to begin thinking about how we live our life whilst suffering from any form of kidney disease. This includes Nephrotic Syndrome in its various forms.
www.kidneycareuk.org and search for ‘kidney kitchen’. A wealth of information is on display here to help you and those you live with. Remember each person is quite individual despite basic dietary adherence being common and will be in a different place on the journey at times. This area of the website also contains a recipe section.
Those with Nephrotic syndrome are advised to follow a low salt diet whilst having relapses so not to retain any further fluid on the body. It’s also advisable to refrain from eating processed food as much as possible and eat food which has been freshly prepared. Those persons with impaired kidney function will need their bloods regularly checked to monitor levels of potassium and phosphate and if found high will need to adjust their intake of foods containing these chemicals. Your local hospital, or dietician attached to your renal unit will advise you if you unsure what foods to avoid, or restrict. If you find your potassium levels are very high and no one has contacted you from the hospital to alert you please call renal team immediately as very high potassium levels are dangerous for your heart and you may need urgent treatment at hospital to bring down potassium to an acceptable level.
Dietary supplements and kidney disease
Billions of pounds are spent today on dietary supplements and many are marketed to offer health benefits to tempt us to purchase them. Many of these despite their slick marketing and impressive sales pitch, have little evidence to back up the claims very often made.
It is likely that for the most, healthy people will need very few supplements and will obtain all the essential vitamins and minerals in a good balanced healthy diet. However for those suffering with a kidney condition, there are times when certain supplements may be required and your health team will advise you on this. This can be very important. Their advice along with a healthy (if restricted) diet – will suffice and there is no need to waste money on products that may be of no value, or even cause harm.
So visit Kidneycareuk.org for more detailed information and even some recipes.
Another helpful website is https://www.emeesykidney.nhs.uk/ professional-area/dietetic-information
It is critical you discuss your own situation with your health team and see what works best for you.
What are the facts about herbal supplements?
The following facts about herbal supplements are true for everyone, with, or without kidney disease. Herbal supplements often have more than one name: a common name and a plant name. Some common concerns include:
Are the supplements of very good quality and certified.
Some herbal supplements have aristolochic acid, which is harmful to kidneys.
Supplements made in other countries may contain heavy metals.
There are few studies to show if herbal supplements have real benefits and even less information in patients with kidney disease.
Herbal supplements may interact with prescription medicines to either decrease, or increase how the medicine works.
So it is vital you have professional, good and supportive advice on this subject.
Is it safe to use herbal supplements if I have kidney disease?
It has been common for centuries many people consider using herbal supplements to help with any health concerns you may have. As a patient with kidney disease, you should use caution with herbal supplements. Use of herbal supplements can be unsafe if you have kidney disease since some herbal products can cause harm to your kidneys and even make your kidney disease worse. Also, if your kidney function is declining your kidneys cannot clear waste products that can build up in your body.
The herbal supplement and health supplements market is a multi-million business today. You may hear from a friend, or family member about an herbal supplement that they think has improved their health, or wellbeing and they suggest it to you. While this advice may be fine for them, it can be dangerous for you with kidney disease. Also, independent science makes clear that some supplements just do not work and may be a waste of money.
Living with kidney disease
Living with kidney disease and its many restrictions can be a significant challenge for all in a household and a way forward be found that is both healthy, affordable, and doable. Nobody enjoys restrictions and especially on things like fluids. However – on the diet front there may well be foods out there that you have never tried, or even heard off. Whilst careful personal evaluation and medical advice is critical, you may enjoy in moderation some new foods.
For far too long we have been rather brainwashed into eating far too much unhealthy processed food with its high salt, sugars, fat and other additives as content. Over time this can lead research now shows into developing various chronic health conditions. Fast food not so many years ago was normally a visit to ‘fish & chip shop” until the odd Chinese take away began to appear. From these beginnings many high streets are full of fast food shops often selling very unhealthy foods, and supermarket shelves full of processed foods. It has been a gradual creep and it is now time to break free from this unhealthy diet and lifestyle and find new ways to live for all. Those with kidney disease are part of this, but it may have some very interesting dietary opportunities as well as many challenges.
As we look at the rising concerns over climate change on Earth and the consequences this may have, as well as a growing world population, it is clear that much will need to change in years to come and this will involve meat production and consumption. It has long been argued that not only can a heavily meat/dairy based diet be bad for us, it will also not be sustainable. Indeed a plant-based diet with much less meat will be the way ahead for human health and sustainability. Those with kidney disease will need to explore new ways to eat and drink with their dietician and health team.