Formulating the basics of a diabetic renal diet is a very important issue as diabetes is the single biggest cause of renal failure. Many people suffering from kidney problems are also diabetics.
Combining a renal diet with a diabetic diet has a number of challenges. Looking for an acceptable diet for both kidney failure and diabetes can appear to be very limiting to the patient at first.
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The main objective for a diabetic diet is to maintain healthy sugar levels in the blood at all times.
There are basically two ways of achieving this:
- By only eating carbohydrates with a low GI (glycemic index) because they are broken down and absorbed more slowly resulting in a steady release of sugar into the blood stream over a longer period of time. Low GI foods include whole grains, unrefined foods, most fruits and vegetables, legumes, sweet potatoes and nuts. Highly refined and concentrated carbohydrates, like white bread, confectionaries, sugars and drinks with added sugar should be avoided. They cause blood sugar “spikes”, because they are very rapidly absorbed, and tend to burn out just as quickly.
- Eating small frequent meals (about 6 times a day is generally accepted). It is important to remember that it is not only what is eaten, but when it is eaten that keeps the blood sugar levels more constant. Don’t go long periods without eating, and don’t eat huge meals or skip meals.
The renal diet on the other hand tries to limit stress on the kidneys by reducing waste products in the bloodstream:
- By limiting daily protein intake. Excess proteins eaten have to be broken down into carbohydrates and nitrites. The nitrites in the form of urea are eliminated in the urine. This causes unnecessary work for already damaged kidneys.
- Limiting table salt to avoid water retention. Salt replacements should not be used as they contain potassium.
- The possible need to reduce other salts such as potassium and phosphates. These are monitored by frequent blood tests and only need to be limited on the advice of your doctor. Foods with high potassium content include: apricots avocado, banana, cantaloupe, kiwi, citrus fruits, papaya, pears, peaches, prunes and watermelon. Some foods with high phosphorus content are legumes, dairy, dried legumes, shellfish, organ meats.
Diabetic Renal Diet:
- Limit protein intake to approximately 8 oz, or two moderate servings, a day
- Eat only low GI carbohydrates
- Limit salt, to cooking only.
- Limit foods with high phosphorus and potassium contents, follow your Doctor’s advice on this at all times.
- Eat small frequent meals. When you wake up in the morning, eat your first meal. Eat at 2-3 hourly intervals throughout the
- day, taking your last meal at bed-time.
- Planning menus for a week at a time will help you vary your food more.
- Plan your daily food intake so it is spread throughout the day
- When dishing up food for your main meal, fill half the plate with vegetables or salads, then the other half equally with carbohydrates and protein.
- Instead of salt, add flavor by using fresh herbs, non-salt spices, onions, garlic, a little lemon juice or flavored oils.
- For smaller meals eat whole grain cereal, crackers or bread, fruit, a glass of skim milk, nuts, yoghurt, a little cottage
- cheese and plenty of salads.
A diabetic renal diet can be a very powerful aid in controlling both renal failure and diabetes. It is well worthwhile planning your eating and sticking to your diet. You will feel better and be healthier for it.
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