Dietary management for diseases of the kidney

The kidney

The kidneys are two organs located on either side of your spine in the middle of your back, just above the waist. They perform severe life sustaining roles. They cleanse your blood by removing waste and excess fluid, maintain the balance of salt and mineral in your blood, and help regulate blood pressure. When the kidneys becomes damaged, waste products and fluid can build up in the body causing swelling in your ankles, vomiting, weakness, poor sleep, and shortness of breath. If left untreated, diseased kidneys may eventually stop functioning completely loss of kidney function is a serious and potentially fatal condition. Healthy kidney, handle several specific roles.

Healthy kidneys

  • Maintain a balance of water and concentration of mineral, such as sodium, potassium, and phosphorus in your blood.
  • Remove waste by-products from the blood after digestion, muscle acting, and exposure to chemicals or medications.
  • Produce rennin and enzyme that helps regulate blood pressure.
  • Produce erythropoietin, which stimulates red blood cell production.
  • Produce an active form of Vit D, needed for bone health.

What causes acute kidney injury

Injury is also known as renal failure acute kidney injury or acute renal failure (ARF). The sudden loss of kidney function is call acute kidney injury, ARF can occur through the following;

  • A traumatic injury with blood loss.
  • The sudden reduction of blood flow to the kidney.
  • Damage to the kidneys from shock during severe infections called sepsis.
  • Obstruction of urine flow, such as with enlarged prostate.
  • Damage from certain drugs or toxins.
  • Pregnancy complications, such as eclampsia, or related help syndrome.

Marathon manners’ and other athletes’ who do not drink enough fluids while competing in long-distance, endurance events may suffer acute renal failure due to a sudden breakdown of muscle tissue. This muscle breakdown releases a chemical called myoglobin that can damage the kidneys.

The fact on kidney disease

The kidneys, is about the size of a fish, which plays three major roles;

  • Removing waste product from the body, keeping toxins from building up in the blood stream.
  • Producing hormones that control other body functions, such as regulating blood pressure and producing red blood cells.
  • Regulating the levels of mineral or electrolytes (e.g. sodium, calcium, and potassium) and fluid in the body.

After the blood has circulated through the body, it passes into kidneys. The kidneys filters waste product and excess salt and water out of the blood and pass these out of the body as urine. The kidneys also make hormones that control blood pressure, as well as maintain red blood cells. It’s a serious problem when the kidneys stop working, waste products that build up in the body cause imbalance, chemicals needed to keep the body functioning smoothly. There are many different types of kidney diseases that can lead to end-stage renal diseases (ESRD), a condition in which the kidney fail to work normally. People with kidney failure need perceive dialysis or a kidney transplant.

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Causes of kidney disease

The most common causes of kidney disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, and hardening of the arteries (which damage the blood vessels in the kidney). Some kidney diseases are cause by an inflammation of the kidneys called nephritis. This may be due to an infection or to an autoimmune reaction where the body immune or defence system attacks and damage the kidney. Other kidney diseases such as polycystic kidney disease are caused by problem with the shape or size of the kidneys (anatomic disorders), while other kidney diseases interfere with the inner working of the kidneys (metabolic disorders), most metabolic kidney disorders are rare, since they need to be in merited from both parents.

Other common causes of kidney failure include certain medications that can be toxic to kidney tissue and blockage of the system that drains the kidney (which can occur with prostate problems).

Symptoms and complication of kidney disease

The symptoms of kidney disease depend on the types of disease that a person has. If the disease caused by a bacterial infection, the person will develop a high fever. Other signs of kidney disease include passing too much or too little urine, or passing blood or abnormal levels of chemicals in urine. Nephrogenic diabetes insipid is a kidney disease in which the kidney cannot remove enough water from the urine to make it concentrate mild to moderate kidney disease often does not have any symptoms. However, in ERSD or uraemia when the toxins accumulate in a person blood, symptoms may include;

  • Puffy eyes, hand, and feet (called oedema).
  • High blood pressure
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Thirst
  • A bad taste in the mouth or bad breath
  • Weight loss
  • Generalised, persistent itchy, skin
  • Muscle twitching or cramping
  • A yellowish-brown tint to the skin
  • Urine that is cloudy or tea-coloured

Kidney disease usually does not cause pain, but in some cases pain may occur. A kidney stone in urethra (a tube leading from the kidney to the bladder) can cause severe cramping pain that spreads from the lower back into the groin. The pain disappears once the stone has moved through the urethra.

Kidney disease can lead to both acute and chronic, kidney failure, both of which can be life threatening. Acute kidney failure happens suddenly within hours or days, where as chronic failure happens gradually ones or a period of months to years. Acute kidney failure can often be reverse if the underlying disease is treated. In both condition, the kidney shut down and can no longer filter waste or excess water out of the blood. As a result, poisons start to build up in the blood and cause various complications that can affect various blood systems. Chronic kidney failure eventually reaches an end stage; the person will need dialysis or a kidney transplant to be able to go on living.

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Diagnosing kidney disease

Unless the kidneys are swollen or there’s a tumour, your doctor can’t usually check for disease by feeling the kidney. Instead, your doctor mightiest the urine and blood, take a scan of the kidneys, and test samples of kidney tissue. A routine urine test, called a urinalysis, check for protein, sugar, blood, and ketoses (created when the blood breaks down fat). The urine is tested with a dipstick, which is a thin piece of plastic covered with chemicals that react when they touch substances in the urine. Your doctor will also check for red and white blood cells in the urine during urinalysis (the urine is examined using a microscope) depending on the suspected cause of the kidney problem, other test may also be done.

Treating of kidney disease depend on the type of disease, the underlying cause and the duration of the disease. When treating kidney disease, your doctor will try to treat the original cause. Kidney infection can be treated with antibodies if the infection is cause by bacterial inflammation due to an immune reaction, which is more difficult to treat. However, your doctor will try to control the immune reaction with immunosuppressant medications such as corticosteroids. These work only in some type of nephritis.

Dietary management of renal disease

  • Diet for renal patients
  • Fluid control

Kidneys help control the amount of fluid that leaves your body. If your kidney disease progresses, your kidney may be unable to regulate the removal of fluid from your body as a result your doctor may ask you to limit your fluid intake limit fluid intake.

What exactly is a fluid? Fluids are food that is liquid, or anything that melt into a liquid. Examples of fluid include the following

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Sodas
  • Soups
  • Popsicles
  • Ice cream
  • Ice cube
  • Gelatine
  • Milk, liquid creamer
  • Water
  • Wine and beer

If your doctor advice you to decrease the amount of fluids you eat and drink each day, these tips may help you. Drink only when thirsty; do not drink out of habit.

  • Eat less salt so you will feel less thirsty
  • Suck on ice chips (measure small unit into a cup)
  • Brush your teeth three to four times a day; this is to prevent your mouth from drying out
  • Suck on a lemon wedge
  • If you have diabetes, control your blood sugar
  • Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless hard candy
  • Take your medication with sips of fluid
  • When dining out, ask your beverages to be served in a child size glass
  • Measure how much fluid your favourite cup or glass hold so you will be better and able to monitor the amount of fluid you drink
  • After measuring out the total amount of fluid you can drink for the day, place the water in a container. During the day , drink only from this container so you can keep an eye on the amount of fluid you have consumed
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The renal diet-phosphorus

Before making any change of your diet, make sure you discuss them with your doctor or dietician. Phosphorus is a mineral that works with calcium to keep your bones healthy and strong. Phosphorus is needed in the body for building and maintaining bones and teeth and for normal nerve and muscle function. When kidney function declines, the body has a difficult time keeping phosphorus and calcium imbalance as a result of this in balance, the body cannot get rid of excess phosphorus (phosphorus levels increases). To try any correct this imbalance, the body will ‘’steal’’ calcium from the bones, which makes the bones weak. Problem associated with high phosphorus levels include; itchy skin, bone and joint pain, and brittle bones.

Foods that are high in phosphorus include;

  • Cola drinks
  • Peanut butter
  • Cheese
  • Sardine
  • Chicken/beef liver
  • Nuts
  • Caramels
  • Beer
  • Ice cream

Foods that are low in phosphorus include;

  • Broccoli, non-dairy milk substitute
  • Sherbet, non-cola soda
  • Zucchini squash
  • Hard candy


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Curhan, G.C. & Mitch, W.E. (2008). Diet and kidney disease. (8th ed.). Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.

Depner, T.A. (2006). Clinical Practice Guidelines for Hemodialysis Adequacy, Peritoneal Dialysis Adequacy, and Vascular Access. New York: National Kidney Foundation.

Fouque, D. & Laville, M. (2009). Low protein diets for chronic kidney disease in nondiabetic adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (3).

Himmelfarb, J. (2008). Hemodialysis. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.

Kopple, J.D. (2006). Nutrition, diet, and the kidney. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, (10th ed.). Baltimore: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Levey, A. S. (2003). National Kidney Foundation practice guidelines for chronic kidney disease: Evaluation, classification, and stratification. Annals of Internal Medicine, 139(2): 137–147.