Dietary Tips for Chronic Kidney Disease
The importance of healthy kidneys
Kidneys are one of the essential organs for detoxification. Proper functioning kidneys can help to:
Excrete excess metabolic waste products (e.g. urea) and chemicals (e.g. drugs)
Regulate hydration status, acid-base balance, blood pressure and maintain electrolyte balance
Regulate secretion of vitamin D and hormones (e.g. insulin, erythropoietin and gastrin) and maintain bone health
Definition of chronic kidney disease
Chronic kidney disease (CKD), also known as chronic renal failure, is a condition where the kidneys gradually lose their structure or function, with implications for health persisting for more than three months. Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate (eGFR) is a commonly used indicator for the measurement of kidney function. The eGFR of a healthy adult should be greater than 90 ml/min/1.73m2, whereas patients with CKD have decreased eGFR shown as below.
End-stage renal failure refers to when the kidneys are unable to perform self-regulation, and dialysis treatment (hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis) or kidney transplant is required to sustain life.
Risk factors and common signs/symptoms
There is currently no cure for chronic kidney disease; hence, dietary management primarily aims to reduce or delay complications (e.g. diabetes, hypertension, anaemia, bone disease etc), delay progression of the disease and optimize nutritional status.
1. Maintaining a balanced diet
When kidney function gradually declines, its ability to excrete metabolic waste products is also reduced. This leads to waste accumulation within the body causing symptoms such as oedema and arrhythmia. Patients should therefore review their physical conditions regularly by taking blood tests, and modify their eating patterns based on the degree of kidney damage, medications and treatment method.
2. Maintain a healthy body weight, regular physical activity and quit smoking
Overweight or obesity is associated with increased risks of kidney disease, diabetes, hypertension and stroke. It is suggested to maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 to 22.9 kg/m2 for Asians. Meanwhile, patients should try to minimize having a sedentary lifestyle based on their physical conditions with regular physical activity of moderate intensity, and to cease smoking as soon as possible.