Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Kidney Kitchen: Protein and the Renal Diet

  Welcome to the final chapter of my renal diet series! I've enjoyed sharing my information, story and recipes with you, and I hope you've been able to learn something in return.  This post looks at protein.
  We all know that eating enough protein is an important part of staying healthy.  Protein helps our bodies to grow, repair tissues, and heal wounds and infections.  The average adult should eat between 40 to 65 grams of protein every day.
  But protein can be tricky to manage if you have kidney disease.  Many renal patients have to limit their protein intake.  I was first put on a low protein diet when I was still seeing the pediatric nephrologist.  Unfortunately I started losing a lot of weight.  Those who know me know that I am not a large person, so the weight loss was definitely a problem.  The dietitian at the time then wanted me to increase my calories.  Most of the foods that you associate with calories also have protein, so it was interesting trying to balance my reduced protein diet and my increased calorie diet.
  When we eat foods that contain protein, protein waste products are created. Healthy kidneys have millions of nephrons that filter this waste. It’s then removed from the body in the urine.  However, for someone who has kidney disease, their kidneys have lost the ability to remove protein waste and it starts to build up in the blood. Dietary protein intake for patients with CKD is based on the stage of kidney disease, nutrition status and body size.  For patients who are in stage 5 and have kidneys that work at less than 10 percent, dialysis is needed to take over for the failed kidneys or until a kidney transplant is possible.  Dialysis removes protein waste from the blood and a low protein diet is no longer needed. Unfortunately, some amino acids are removed during dialysis. A higher protein intake is needed to replace lost protein.  This is where I am right now.  I need to consume between 4 to 4 1/2 ounces of protein every day.  To get an idea of how much that it, look at a deck of cards; a piece of meat that size would be about 4 to 4 1/2 ounces.
  What do you think of when you think of protein foods? Probably animal products such as meat and eggs.  But dairy products, dried peas/beans/lentils, and nuts and nut butters also contain protein.  However some of these foods also contain potassium and/or phosphorous, so depending on your diet you may need to limit them.  In addition to low protein, I am also on a low potassium, low phosphorous diet, so I have to limit things like dairy and peanut butter (in my pre-renal diet life peanut butter was its own food group, so that one has been really hard for me!).
  One thing that I used to really enjoy before I started the renal diet was fruit smoothies: yogurt, juice and fresh fruit.  Yum! But yogurt is high in protein, potassium and phosphorous.  I did some looking online, and while there are lots of recipes for HIGH protein smoothies, but there are no recipes for LOW protein smoothies.  Fortunately, I had a list of recipes from the dietitian that I saw when I was a child to help me.  I went looking for ingredients, and I came up with this recipe.

  Low-Protein Berry Smoothie
  - 1/2 cup Chapmans Triple Berry Sorbet
  - 1/4 cup unfortified Rice Dream
  - 1/2 cup fresh or 1/4 cup frozen berries, whatever kind you like

  Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Then pour into a glass and enjoy!  You can also try this with different flavours of sorbet or sherbet and fruit and come up with your own flavour combinations.

  Thanks for checking out my renal diet series! And stay tuned for more posts...I'm already planning a Thanksgiving-themed post about how I modify some of our favourite dishes to be kidney-friendly.

  Until next time,

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