Medications aren’t the only ways to treat kidney disease. Natural treatments such as dietary and lifestyle changes can help to combat the symptoms and complications. Natural therapies can also treat the cause of kidney damage, meaning that they can not only help to reverse kidney damage but also prevent further damage in the future.
If you have kidney disease you may not urinate as often, especially if you’re already on dialysis. So your body holds on to excess fluid and wastes, posing serious risks to other organs – such as your heart and lungs – as well as to your overall health. Changing your diet helps to minimize the collection of waste products and fluids in your body, and to normalize electrolyte levels.
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One of the earliest recommendations your doctor will make is to reduce your sodium and protein intake. While these are the most commonly known dietary changes to treat kidney disease, they aren’t the only ones.
Because nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are common symptoms of kidney disease, a well-planned diet also ensures that you are getting enough calories and nutrients. Keep in mind that weight loss is not unusual.
Here are some of the other recommended dietary changes for people with kidney problems:
1. Be vigilant about food safety. Many of us pay superficial attention to the safety of our food. But when you have kidney disease it’s vital that you do. Some of the safety methods recommended for kidney transplant patients also apply to people with kidney damage who haven’t had a transplant.
Food-borne illnesses such as salmonella and E. coli can be deadly. If you have a kidney disease, you’re even more vulnerable to the damage they can cause. Practice proper food preparation hygiene and refrigerate foods that need to be kept cold.
You should also avoid foods such as cold cuts, unpasteurized dairy products, unpasteurized juices, raw or rare meats and fish, raw or undercooked eggs, and sprouts.
2. Monitor carbohydrate intake. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of kidney disease. The disease affects how your body uses insulin, or may cause a problem with the production of insulin. Insulin helps to metabolize glucose, but when you have diabetes, this process is impaired. This leads to high levels of glucose that damage tiny vessels in your kidneys called nephrons.
Whenever you eat carbohydrates, your blood glucose or blood sugar levels rise. Eating the right carbohydrates (whole grains) and the right amount (based on your weight and activity level) helps to keep your blood glucose levels as stable as possible and reduces damage to your kidneys.
3. Reduce cholesterol levels. If you’re living with kidney disease you’re more prone to cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. Cholesterol is one of the main contributing factors to these diseases. It’s a type of fat, and it can accumulate in your blood causing blockages of the vessels.
Dietary changes that help to reduce cholesterol include avoiding foods with trans and saturated fats. Trans-fats are found in many pre-packaged foods, and saturated fats include butter/ margarine, meat and dairy products. Foods that help to lower or control cholesterol include fiber from sources such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and fish oil.
When cooking, stick to healthy fats such as olive oil. Avoid canola oil as much of the rapeseed – from which canola comes – is genetically modified. Choosing organic brands is a healthier option.
4. Eat more fruits and vegetables. These healthy foods are packed with potent antioxidants that help to reduce the ravages of diseases such as kidney disease and diabetes. Non-starchy vegetables are particularly good because they don’t raise your blood sugar levels as much as fruits or starchy vegetables. They help to keep your blood glucose in check.
Fruits and vegetables also boost your immune system and protect you from diseases and infections. Bacterial or viral infections can do additional damage to your kidneys, so finding ways to keep them at bay is essential.
5. Get enough calories, but not too many. A healthy amount of calories has several purposes when you have kidney problems. First, they help to prevent weight loss, which is a common side effect of this health problem. They provide fuel for your body to use as energy and fight fatigue – another consequence of kidney damage.
However, if you consume too many calories you create more waste products in your body, more work for your kidneys, and higher blood sugar. This isn’t what you want to do.
Meal plans can help you to get the right amount of calories for your weight and activity level. When you have kidney disease, you should consult with your doctor and a dietitian to create a meal plan that works for you.
6. Get advice on vitamin supplements. Some vitamins and minerals may harm your kidneys or exacerbate kidney disease, while as earlier mentioned, others can be extremely effective in fighting kidney problems. Speak to your natural therapist or dietitian first about the best vitamin and herbal supplements to take.
Duncan Capicchiano N.D. is a fully qualified Naturopath, Author, and Medical researcher specializing in kidney disease. For more information on kidney disease and diet, or how you can improve your kidney function naturally, please visit his website at www.KidneyDiseaseSecrets.com where you can grab a FREE copy of his kidney disease secrets mini-course.
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