The kidneys are marvelous structures. They not only keep fluid from accumulating (edema) but also filter out toxins from the blood and keep everything in check. They also regulate blood pressure.
That is why when the kidneys fail from things like diabetes and high blood pressure, the number one and two main causes of kidney failure in this country, it’s such a serious matter. The first dialysis machine was made in Germany back in the forties from soda pop cans and sausage casings. It failed. But fortunately we have made better machines that take the place of some kidney function, about 20%.
But life on dialysis is rough. It requires doing it at home every few hours of in a dialysis unit three times a week for up to four hours each time. It can also greatly reduce your life expectancy. That’s why a kidney trans plant is the best option, but the list is long and the average wait is three to five years.
While you are on dialysis, your fluid intake is restricted to about six of those small Styrofoam coffee cups per day. That’s total liquid intake. Liquid foods like soups are included in that total. Consume too much liquid and it makes your blood pressure go up and puts a strain on your heart.
But it’s not just liquid that you have to watch out for. Two minerals, potassium and phosphorous, that are good for healthy people to consume can be lethal for kidney patients, both on and off dialysis, if too much of them accumulate in the blood. Too much potassium can cause your heart to stop suddenly and too much phosphorous can make your bones brittle and if the levels go up even more, it can kill you as well.
So kidney disease patients must eat a very restricted diet and take expensive phosphorous binders or calcium tablets. And since most of the healthy fruits and vegetables are high in one or the other or both, it doesn’t leave much for the palate.
A vegetarian diet is a good choice for most people. It’s naturally low in fat and is good for your heart. Now it seems that a vegetarian diet can help kidney patients as well. According to Medical news Today:
” A grain-based vegetarian diet helps chronic kidney disease patients avoid accumulating toxic levels of phosphorous in their bodies, according to new research from the US. The study is to be published in the in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.”
Even though the vegetarian diet had about the same levels of protein and phosphorous, the people on the vegetarian diet had lower levels of phosphorous in their blood than the folks on the meat-based diet.
So the research has shown that patients with CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease) would benefit from such a grain-based vegetarian diet and it would allow them to have more protein, so it’s a double benefit.