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Kidney Disease Diet Tips for People with Diabetes

What to Know About the Renal Diet

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Updated February 08, 2010

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

A kidney disease diet involves special attention to your body's needs as kidney function decreases. A complication of type 2 diabetes, kidney disease involves kidney damage that can eventually result in kidney failure. A proper kidney disease diet takes into account this progression, incorporating proper food recommendations and dietary restrictions.

Keys of a Kidney Disease Diet

Sodium is usually restricted when kidneys first show signs of damage. Potassium and phosphorus are restricted later, when failure progresses. This can be challenging if you have kidney disease and diabetes, as many of the foods that are part of a typical type 2 diabetes meal plan contain these minerals. It can become difficult to balance good diabetes nutrition when dealing with these diet restrictions.

Sodium

Although sodium is necessary for your body to function properly, it can build up when kidneys start to fail. Excess sodium in the body can cause fluid to accumulate in the tissues. This is called edema. Edema usually occurs in the face, hands and lower extremities.

A low sodium diet is usually the first line of defense when kidney function starts to decrease. Limit high sodium foods such as bacon and ham; cold cuts; bottled sauces (soy, barbecue sauce); bouillon cubes; canned, dehydrated or instant soup; canned vegetables; cheese; crackers; nuts; olives; pickles; potato chips; processed convenience foods; sauerkraut; and (of course) table salt.

Potassium

Potassium is an important mineral for muscle and heart function. When kidneys can't filter out potassium, too much could be circulating in your blood. An excess of potassium can be very dangerous because it can cause irregular heart rhythm, which could become severe enough to cause your heart to stop working. Restricting high potassium foods can help prevent this from happening.

Regular blood tests to monitor potassium levels can also alert your doctor to potential problems.

Some high potassium foods are apricots; baked beans; bananas; beets; broccoli; cantaloupe; chocolate; collard and other greens; molasses; mushrooms; nuts; oranges; peanut butter; potatoes; dried fruit; raisins; salt substitute; and tomatoes.

Phosphorus

When kidneys start to fail, phosphorus can start to build up in your body. This causes an imbalance with calcium, which forces the body to use calcium from the bones. It's important to keep phosphorus levels as close to normal as possible to prevent bones from weakening. Reducing the amount of high phosphorus foods that you eat is one way to keep phosphorus levels down.

Try to limit or avoid high phosphorus foods such as beer; bran cereals; caramels; cheese; cocoa; cola; dried beans; ice cream; liver; milk and milk products; nuts; peanut butter; and sardines.

Help With Your Kidney Disease Diet

When kidneys begin to fail, it's time to find a kidney specialist to help you with diet, treatments, and medications. A kidney specialist is called a nephrologist. With medical guidance and dietary changes, symptoms can be eased, and progression of the disease can be slowed.

Sources:

"Diet for Renal Patient." Medical College of Wisconsin Division of Nephrology. Web. 28 Jan 2010. http://www.mcw.edu/display/ClinicalServices/DietforRenalPatient.htm

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