Diet tips for renal failure

  • Health Insurance

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction

Your kidneys are two tiny, bean-shaped organs that do a great deal for your body. They come with micro filters that help separate the toxic and waste substances circulating in the blood, and they ensure that these wastes are taken out of the body in the form of urine. They also help remove excess water and keep the essential chemicals in the body balanced.

The kidneys continue to work and perform their crucial functions even when you are asleep. If you maintain a good diet, exercise regularly, and get adequate sleep, your kidneys will generally remain healthy. However, due to various reasons, one or both of your kidneys may be affected and may not be able to function properly.

This is what we call renal failure.

What is renal failure?

Renal failure is a term that means kidney failure. It is a condition where one or both of your kidneys are no longer able to work on their own. Renal failure can be acute or chronic. Acute renal failure occurs almost suddenly, and can lead to a steep rise of waste matter in the bloodstream within a short span of time.

In case of chronic renal failure, also known as Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), the kidneys gradually wear out and stop functioning well. This can lead to prolonged symptoms that set in slowly and last for weeks or months on end.

Kidney failure can be caused by any of the following factors –

  • Strong medications
  • Severe dehydration
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Uncontrolled heart disease or liver disease
  • Any obstruction or blockage in the urinary tract

Diet tips to follow to avoid or manage renal failure

Whether you have already been diagnosed with renal failure, or whether you simply want to prevent it, your diet plays a major role. Here are some diet tips that you can follow to manage kidney disease.

  • Limit the amount of salt you consume

    Salt - or more specifically, the sodium in salt - can affect your blood pressure greatly. To keep your blood pressure within a healthy range, your daily sodium consumption should be 2,300 milligrams or lower. For people with renal failure or kidney disease, this is even more important.

    So, if you are looking for a diet that is healthy for the kidneys, you need to keep your sodium consumption under control. Here are some ways to do this –

    • Eat fresh foods and use lower amounts of salt in your cooking.
    • Avoid packaged foods that have high sodium content.
    • Limit ordering takeaway or eating out, because you cannot control the sodium content in foods at eateries.
    • Use a variety of other herbs and seasonings to add flavour to your food in place of salt.
    • Rinse canned foods before cooking to remove excess sodium.
  • Pay attention to the protein you eat

    Protein is an essential macronutrient for your body. However, when your body uses protein, it produces waste byproducts. Your kidneys have the responsibility of removing this waste from the body. So, if you eat too much protein when you have renal issues, your kidneys may have to work harder than they can, leading to more problems.

    This does not mean you have to eliminate protein from your diet, though. Instead, you need to pay attention to the amount of protein you consume, as well as the kind of protein in your diet. Here are some ways to ensure that you get the protein you need without burdening your kidneys too much.

    • Eat smaller portions of protein with each meal, rather than eating a huge portion all at once.
    • Limit your protein intake to 0.6gm to 0.8gm per kilogram of body weight, if you have CKD and are not on dialysis.
    • Consume lean meat or plant proteins.
  • Eat heart-healthy foods

    Heart disease can directly impact the kidneys adversely. This is because if you develop heart disease that leads to fat build-up in the arteries, your blood pressure rises. This, in turn, affects your kidneys negatively.

    So, it is advisable to eat a diet that is rich in heart-healthy foods such as –

    • Fruits
    • Vegetables
    • Low-fat or fat-free dairy products
    • Fish
    • Grains
    • Lean meats

    Similarly, you need to avoid deep-fried foods. Instead, you can grill or bake foods, or even stir-fry them.

  • Reduce or eliminate saturated and trans fats

    There are three kinds of fats that you generally consume as a part of your diet - saturated, unsaturated and trans fats. Unsaturated fats are healthy fats, and they are found in food items such as –

    • Avocados
    • Seeds like pumpkin and sesame seeds
    • Nuts like almonds and hazelnuts
    • Olive and peanut oils

    On the other hand, foods rich in saturated and trans fats lead to a buildup of bad cholesterol in the body. This, in turn affects the heart and eventually the kidneys in an adverse manner. Here are some foods that have a high percentage of unhealthy fats.

    • Butter
    • Cheese
    • Red meat
    • Cakes and pies
    • Microwave popcorn
    • Frozen pizza

    So, work towards limiting saturated fats and eliminating trans fats. This will be very helpful for people suffering from kidney diseases.

  • Watch your potassium and phosphorus intake

    Your body needs potassium and phosphorus in limited amounts. Potassium helps the body's nerve and muscle cells function normally, while phosphorus plays a major role in how your body uses carbohydrates and fats.

    But in a person with kidney disease, since the kidneys cannot eliminate excess chemicals from the body, these minerals build up in the bloodstream, leading to more problems. High levels of potassium in the body can weaken your heart, while high levels of phosphorus can make your bones brittle. So, talk to your healthcare provider and regulate the amount of potassium and phosphorus in your diet.

The importance of insurance in case of renal failure

Renal failure is classified as a critical illness in most cases. This is because if the damaged kidneys do not receive any external assistance, or if they are not transplanted with healthy alternatives from donors, the body may shut down leading to fatal consequences.

Treatment for renal failure involves dialysis and/or organ transplant - both of which are costly options. In case of unexpected renal failure, it may be difficult for the patient and their family to get the funds needed for treatment ready at short notice. Even in the case of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), the costs of multiple sessions of dialysis can add up over time.

Here is where critical illness insurance can be very useful. This kind of insurance offers financial protection in case of specific critical illnesses such as kidney disease. So, in case the policyholder is diagnosed with renal failure, they can rely on the payouts from the critical illness cover to cover the cost of dialysis and/or kidney transplant.

If you are looking for more clarity on how the benefits work in case of a critical illness insurance cover, you can take a look at the ABSLI CritiShield Plan. This plan offers you 30% of the sum assured in case any early stage kidney disease has been diagnosed, and 100% of the sum assured in case of late stage kidney disease.

Conclusion

From the details provided above, you may now be able to appreciate the importance of diet for kidney failure management. When eaten moderately, most micro and macro nutrients are helpful to the body. But in case of renal failure, it is necessary to be more careful and to regulate the amount of minerals and fats you consume.

With the diet tips given above, you will find the condition is easier to manage. But merely focusing on your diet is not enough. You need to secure your finances too, well in advance. So, if you are still young and healthy, it may be a good idea to get a critical illness cover now and protect your savings and investments for the future.

ABSLI CritiShield Plan(UIN: 109N104V02) is a traditional non participating health insurance plan.
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