Renal Diet Basics

Q1. How can chronic renal patients limit sodium intake?
Due to kidneys’ failure in regulating mineral balance, chronic renal patients can prevent edema by reducing sodium and salt intake in meals. Given the high sodium content of many dishes when eating out, especially noodle soup-base and sauces, dietitian recommends 'less sauce’. For home cooking, try to reduce sodium intake by using natural ingredients as seasoning, e.g. black pepper, Sichuan pepper, star anise, or vegetables such as onion or garlic.

Q2. How can family members prepare the renal diet?
Many patients are unsure about food choices and find it difficult to prepare meals. They should have deep water fish 2 to 3 times a week, e.g. salmon, scomberomorus, yellow croaker, cod, etc. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and can reduce inflammation. Patients should also have more plant based protein from tofu, dried bean curds, as well as egg dishes to regulate protein intake. Since patients take smaller portions, there is no need for caretakers to prepare the food separately. You can also modify the recipes to reduce potassium intake, e.g.  replacing potatoes in braising chicken with carrots or yam

Q3. Can renal patients drink soup?
Renal patients are often concerned about drinking soup. Patients high in potassium should avoid dark leafy greens and have soup made from low-potassium vegetables, e.g. with chayote and candied date soup, carrots, apples and dried longan soup, with mustard green or with corn and eggs. Some types of double-boiled soup should be avoided, especially those made with medicinal herbs, dark leafy vegetables or meat, which cause excessive intake of protein, potassium or even phosphorus.

Q4. Can a plant-based diet help control renal disease?
More recent studies have suggested that a plant-based diet can help prevent or slow the progression of kidney disease. What is a plant-based diet? It is a diet with more intake of plant protein from tofu, beans, bean curds, etc. A high-fibre diet can also stimulate peristalsis and help remove protein toxin such as ammonia.

Q5. What are the dietary precautions for haemodialysis patients?
Haemodialysis can remove both waste products and some nutrients from the body. It means, by ratio, haemodialysis patients need more protein than those with early chronic renal failure. Patients with renal failure need 0.8g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, whereas for haemodialysis patients should increase to 1.2 to 1.5g protein with slightly less restrictions in other requirements. It is important to monitor minerals in the body, e.g. sodium, potassium, phosphorus, etc. with regular blood test before each haemodialysis and make dietary adjustments accordingly.

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