The kidneys are primarily responsible for filtering waste products from the blood and dispelling them out of the body through urine. When the kidneys are unable to function properly, it can result in waste building up in the body and preventing organs from being able to work effectively. Complications of kidney damage or failure may include swelling of the arms and legs, heart disease, weakened bones, or damage to the immune system or central nervous system. As part of their treatment plan, people with kidney damage will usually be advised to follow a renal diet, an eating plan that is designed to ensure the least amount of waste products enter the body through food as possible.
The exact version of the eating plan will typically vary between each individual due to the severity of his or her condition and what other treatment options he or she is on. One of the most common renal diet foods for the majority of people with kidney issues tends to be items that are low in water content and potassium levels. Damaged kidneys are not as easily able to filter out excess liquid from the body, so eating foods with high water content may make a person more likely to retain liquid and suffer from swollen arms and legs. Potassium, a mineral that aids the functioning of the heart, can also build up to dangerous levels since the kidneys may be not filter enough potassium out of the body; therefore, high-potassium foods are usually advised to be avoided on a renal diet plan.
Renal diet foods that tend to be recommended most often are fruits and vegetables that are lower in water content and potassium levels. Fruits that are usually approved on a renal diet include apples, pears, berries, and peaches, while bananas and oranges, which tend to have high amounts of potassium, can potentially cause complications and are often limited. Vegetables that fit the criteria on the renal diet include carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, and peppers, while starchy vegetables like pumpkins, potatoes, and winter squash are generally avoided due to their fluid content or potassium levels.
In addition to fruits and vegetables, whole grains are also another of the most common renal diet foods included in the majority of recommended eating plans, regardless of the type of treatment option a patient is receiving. Once the treatment options are taken into account, certain renal diet foods may be altered. Dialysis is a treatment for kidney failure that uses specialized machines to mimic the functionality of the kidneys and filter out waste from the blood. People whose kidney conditions are not yet severe will generally not be on dialysis and their renal diet will usually limit sources of protein, such as eggs, chicken, fish, or beans, because protein tends to leave behind higher amounts of waste products in the blood than carbohydrates. A person on dialysis will generally require a high amount of protein in his or her diet because the dialysis process may filter out too much of the protein that is needed to maintain the body.