Renal Compensation, Kidney Disease and Nutrition: What To Eat and What To Avoid

Individuals with end-stage renal disease are often prompted to follow a special diet and pay special attention to what they eat and what they should especifically avoid. As per discussed in previous articles by Joe Cosgrove, a renal diet is always recommendable for those patients with any sort of renal disease or kidney failure. End-stage renal disease and kidney failure patients often, if not always, are required to follow a specific nutrition plan and diet simply because their kidneys are not working properly, thusly making it more difficult for the organs to process certain foods. Thus, following a tailored diet puts less effort on the kidneys and, moreover, may actually improve the individual’s overall health.

Even if an individual suffers from any type of kidney disease, it is of high importance to stick with a renal nutrition plan specially tailored to improve the individual’s kidney function in order to prevent further decay. A renal nutrition plan seeks to reduce the intake of several nutrients such as protein and phosphorus alongside other elements such as potassium, calcium, and sodium. By sticking with a renal diet, individuals and patients with kidney disease can definitely lower the amount of toxins and waste products the body accumulates in order to improve organ function.

Pay special attention to minerals

Sodium

Sodium can be found in the vast majority of the foods, and, moreover, it is often added to highlight some flavors. Most individuals believe that salt and sodium are the same; however, salt is actually the compound byproduct of chloride and sodium. Sodium is one of the body’s most important electrolytes and it helps monitor and control the balance of the body and its cells. It helps the body carry out some of its basic functions: it regulates blood pressure, nerve function and muscle contraction, acid-base balance, balances the amount of fluids that the body needs to either keep or eliminate, among others. In order to keep an eye on sodium intake, there are some things individuals can do: they can always go through food labels in order to determine the amount of sodium, they can pay attention to servings and, of course, abstain themselves from buying prepackaged meat and all types of processed foods. Choosing to cook at home using fresh ingredients is also a good way to monitor mineral intake.

Potassium

Aside from sodium, potassium is one of the body’s basic needs. This mineral plays a major role in keeping a regular heartbeat and the muscles working as they should. Potassium also helps the body maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in the blood. Kidneys help the body keep an adequate balance of this mineral in the body. Individuals with renal disease and end-stage kidney failure often struggle to maintain these levels, and since the kidney can no longer complete this task properly, the accumulation and buildup of potassium may lead to a condition commonly referred to as hyperkalemia, which can be diagnosed should the patient start showing symptoms such as muscle weakness and irregular heartbeat. In order to better monitor potassium intake, individuals can always come up with a diet plan with the help of a dietitian, limit foods with high a high potassium content, limit all sorts of dairy products, eat fruits and vegetables and stay away from any salt substitute and seasonings with high potassium content.

Phosphorus

Phosphorus stands out as one of the body’s most important mineral as it is responsible for bone maintenance and development. It also plays a key role in developing other organs and connective tissue. Phosphorus is also involved in muscle movement. People with end-stage kidney disease or any issue related with kidney function often experience imbalances in the mineral which has been related to worsening kidney function as it may lead the body to accumulate phosphorus in the blood. An increase in phosphorus levels can take calcium away from the bones, thusly making them much weaker, and the subsequent increase of calcium in the bloodstream often ends up being allocated in other organs or blood vessels.

In order to better monitor the intake of this mineral, patients, and individuals, in general, can start learning which foods are rich in phosphorus—such as meat, fast food, canned fish, and cheese—, eat smaller servings and pay special attention to PHOS in labels.

 

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What foods should individuals with renal disease include in their diet plans?

According to a study, and aside from the aforementioned words of advice, adding fruits and vegetables to an individual’s diet may help protect the organs from further deterioration. In the western hemisphere, a diet commonly consists of animal and grain foods, which are highly acidic. When an individual suffers from any type of kidney disease, the body is unable to get rid of the toxins and the excess acid found in the body, which is why some patients suffer episodes of metabolic acidosis. The idea is to increase the intake of less-acidic foods in hopes of alkalizing the body, thusly helping patients preserve, to some extent, a much better organ function.

* Featured Image courtesy of Pixabay at Pexels.com

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Physical activity for dialysis patients

Joe Cosgrove has previously covered renal compensation and dialysis thoroughly from different angles; however, one common thing dialysis patients wonder is whether they can perform physical activities during and after the treatment. The truth is, the vast majority of dialysis patients firmly believe they cannot execute any physical activity or exercise; nonetheless, research has shown that actually, they can. Many out of those patients have previously described their first physical activities as something that helped them feel normal again shortly after starting their dialysis treatment. As asserted by various physicians, the act of motion and exercise, regardless of length and intensity, helps those individuals with chronic kidney disease feel much better and stronger, and subsequently more in control of their bodies and their health.

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Many out of those patients have previously described their first physical activities as something that helped them feel normal again shortly after starting their dialysis treatment. As asserted by various physicians, the act of motion and exercise, regardless of length and intensity, helps those individuals with chronic kidney disease feel much better and stronger, and subsequently more in control of their bodies and their health.

The medical community, especially those who specialize in working with renal rehabilitation have found that exercising on a regular basis, carefully, of course, not only improves an individual’s potential for future and more intense physical activity but also does wonders regarding the overall quality of life for those undergoing the dreary process. It is well known that exercise may also come in handy for gaining back the ability to carry out activities that were part of people’s routines prior to starting the treatment. Of course, this also has a huge impact on an emotional level: whether it is returning to the office or taking over domestic chores, patients basically agree upon the fact that exercise has given them back a part of themselves that was somewhat lost.

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Thus, with that being said, for all those individuals who are currently undergoing dialysis, any kind of controlled and supervised physical activity is highly recommended; however, before recklessly jumping into action, it is advisable to consider the following aspects:

Consult your physician

When it comes to delicate medical conditions, addressing the primary physician is key. Doctors are the first source of information about what kind of physical activity can be done depending on the patient’s current stage of the treatment. In fact, physicians often feel happy for those patients who show eagerness to work out and improve their overall health. Measures often include several recommendations such as consulting a physical therapist as well in order to avoid falling victim of any possible injury. Meal plans and controlled diets are always advisable.

Alongside their primary physician and their physical therapist, patients undergoing dialysis can make their current stage more fun and enjoyable—which ends up providing a tremendous positive effect on the patient’s body and mind.

Choose the physical activity and exercise you like the most

Most patients are used to taking long walks. Walking, in fact, is perhaps one of the least demanding and strenuous exercises people can do; yet it is also one of the healthiest ways of keeping a good physical condition. Taking a walk provides several benefits and helps various corporal functions at the same time: it improves the patient’s digestion, increases their energy levels, reduces their bad cholesterol levels, controls their blood pressure, lowers the risk of having a cardiovascular condition, helps them sleep much better and, most importantly, helps fade away those high-stress levels.

Start!

It is undeniable that undergoing dialysis takes a toll on every patient: the vast majority of those individuals who are currently on dialysis oftentimes agree upon the fact that they always feel exhausted and too tired to exercise, and, subsequently, they firmly believe that adding extra activity to their already demanding routines will leave them even more tired. The truth is, even a little-controlled amount of physical activity, let us say 20 to 25 minutes a day, has proven to help patients feel less exhausted. Doing otherwise—not exercising—actually makes people fall victim of those unwanted low energy levels: the longer they postpone any kind of physical activity, the weaker they will feel.

One of the most renowned side effects of suffering from kidney failure is muscle loss. This simply means that those individuals who are currently undergoing dialysis are more likely to lose muscle mass. Exercise, however, helps keep the muscle from shrinking. In fact, there is the chance to bring it back!

Always stretch

As mentioned above, the common denominator of those undergoing dialysis is a constant weakness. People are simply too tired to do basically anything; however, stretching prior to any kind of physical activity has proven to do wonders; besides, it is practically something all dialysis patients can do: it is the perfect way to get blood to those stiff body parts. Stretch both lower and upper body prior and after exercising, as it reduces the chances of suffering from cramps and other unwanted and unsolicited pains. Of course, the key here is to mind the pace, meaning: start slowly. There is no need to become the ultimate athlete to have a good and effective workout. Exercise at a controlled pace and improve over time. It will definitely pay off!

* Featured Image courtesy of Burst at Pexels.com

The Most Common Questions Patients Have About Dialysis

The kidneys are vital organs in the human body. Their functions are those of secreting hormones, cleaning your blood, absorbing minerals and producing urine among others. They are absolutely necessary to maintain the body’s toxin levels at normal levels, they help regulate blood pressure and even stimulate the production of red blood cells.

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As you can probably guess, the kidneys have a lot of responsibility and are organs that work under constant stress. It is expected that when organs such as these stop working like they are supposed to, the consequences are dire, as the body loses its ability to regulate the toxins that are normally cleansed by the kidneys and you begin to feel sick.

Kidney disease is the term utilized to refer to the condition by which the functions of kidneys are reduced in their efficiency or in some cases completely impaired. In cases like this, there are but a few options available for a patient to stay alive. One would be a kidney transplant, and the other would be to receive dialysis treatment. Dialysis is a treatment by which advanced machinery is used to help cover the slack left by kidneys unable to perform their functions and thus remove excess toxins from the patient’s body.

Today in Joe Cosgrove’s blog, we want to talk about some of the most common questions and concerns raised by new patients to dialysis treatment, and by the family members who want to support them during their process.

What are the different types of dialysis?

There are three primary types of dialysis. Hemodialysis and hemofiltration work similarly because they are both concerned with the cleansing of the blood directly. Blood is removed and cleaned in a machine before being pumped back into the body. The difference between both of these methods is that one uses a dialyzer solution while the other uses pressure to separate substances through a permeable membrane.

The third type of dialysis is called peritoneal dialysis and is less efficient than the former methods. In peritoneal dialysis, the blood is not directly but indirectly cleansed by pumping dialyzer into the patient’s abdomen and then removing it after the waste material has transferred to the fluid. The process is repeated several times per session.

How does dialysis work?

Dialysis is a treatment that simulates the process done by the kidneys when they are healthy by removing excess toxins from the blood and keeps the body in balance. A machine is used to extract the blood of the patient (in the case of hemodialysis) and clean it before injecting it back in. Minor surgery is necessary to create a vascular access. Vascular access is a place where the needles and tubes can be easily connected every time the patient needs to undergo the procedure. An access can be created by joining an artery and a vein together into a blood vessel called a fistula or by placing a narrow plastic tube in a large vein near the chest or neck.

In peritoneal dialysis, the blood is actually cleaned inside the body. The doctor places a catheter in the patient’s abdomen so the peritoneal cavity can be filled with fluid and thus excess toxins from the blood can be extracted from blood vessels in the abdomen that come in contact with the dialyzer that is later removed.

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Is it possible to travel?

Traveling is absolutely possible, but it requires a bit more planning that you may be used to. Dialysis can be done by the patient him or herself while traveling with no real risk. There are also many centers around the country and even worldwide that can accommodate your needs while traveling and give you all the care you need. It is imperative to plan properly and to have everything planned well in advance so you can receive the treatment you need.

Does my diet have to change?

The food you eat will depend on many factors like your current health, the stage of your particular kidney disease and the recommendations of your doctor depending on their evaluation of your specific situation. Salt, in general, is to be avoided in large quantities; the same goes for foods that contain too much phosphorus. Anything that can affect your blood pressure has to be eaten in moderation, and it is recommended to eat fewer proteins than usual, especially if you eat lots of meats and animal products.

How often do I have to undergo the treatment?

The frequency of dialysis sessions you require depends mainly on the current state of your kidneys. Some patients with a more advanced condition may require more sessions than someone whose kidneys are still performing partially. Normally, hemodialysis takes places about 3 times a week while visiting the clinic and peritoneal dialysis is usually done at home, several times during the day. As we have mentioned before, one method is more effective than the other, and that is why it requires fewer sessions.