Sodium, Fluid, & Chronic Kidney Disease
Sodium, Fluid, and Chronic Kidney Disease
Reprinted with permission from DaVita, Inc.
People with chronic kidney disease may find that they are retaining fluid, because their kidneys are no longer able to remove excess wastes and fluids from the body as efficiently as healthy kidneys. They may be given a fluid restriction and be advised to limit sodium in their diets. Consuming less liquid and eating a low-sodium diet can help to reduce the amount of excess fluid in the body and may help better control blood pressure.
When you have chronic kidney disease (CKD), one of the treatments is your diet. Your doctor or dietitian may tell you to reduce the amount of sodium and fluid you consume. In addition, you may also be told to restrict your intake of protein, potassium and phosphorous. The goal of the kidney diet is to lessen the strain on your kidneys, while ensuring that you get the nutrients you need for good health.
When kidneys are not able to function at full capacity, they may have a hard time eliminating excess fluid and wastes. The build up of fluid in the body can be observable in puffy eyes, swollen ankles, difficulty breathing, but sometimes there are harmful effects you cannot see, including elevated blood pressure and an accumulation of fluid around the heart or lungs. Excess fluid in someone with CKD can even lead to congestive heart failure. If you have high blood pressure, it can lead to further kidney damage. Too much sodium in your body can leads to higher blood pressure. Restricting the amount of sodium you consume may help reduce these issues.
My doctor recommends a low-sodium diet – now what do I do?
If your doctor has told you that you need to limit the sodium in your diet, you can create a healthy eating plan using other flavoring alternatives to add flavor to your foods.
Start by setting up a meeting with a renal dietitian to find out which foods and beverages would be best to limit or avoid and which ones can still be enjoyed. When you work with a dietitian, your kidney-friendly diet is tailored to your individual needs. And you may find that over time, your kidney diet will evolve. Here are some tips that are designed to help you meet the challenges of sticking to a healthy, low-sodium eating plan:
- Know how much sodium you should eat daily. Your dietitian can give you guidelines. Keep a journal of the foods you eat so you can track the amount of salt you're consuming.
- Always read nutrition labels when grocery shopping, and be on the watch for salt (sodium, sodium benzoate, sodium nitrite, sodium sorbate). If you see salt in the first five ingredients, the food is probably not appropriate for your low-salt diet. Often, different brands of a particular type of food will contain widely varying amounts of salt, so compare brands and stick to the ones with the lowest sodium content.
- Limit the amounts of processed and canned foods you eat. Eat more fresh meats, fish, poultry, fruits and veggies. If you buy frozen foods, choose those that do not have added ingredients.
- Remove the salt shaker from your dining table, or instead of salt, fill the shaker with another herb or seasoning that doesn't contain sodium.
- Be aware that low-sodium foods and salt substitutes are often high in potassium, so they may not be right for your kidney-friendly diet plan.
- Rinse high-sodium canned foods, such as tuna, before eating to help remove some of the salt.
- When cooking at home, use herbs, spices, garlic or lemon to flavor your foods rather than salt. Buy yourself a low-salt cookbook and experiment to find recipes that you and your family like.
- When eating out, let your server know that you need to avoid salty foods. Ask that your meal be prepared without salt or MSG. Gravies, sauces and salad dressings can be especially high in salt, so avoid them or ask to have them served on the side so you can choose the amount you add to your meal.
As you begin eating less salt, you will find that your desire for it will diminish with time. You may find that you prefer the taste of natural seasonings, which allow food's true flavor to come through.
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