There are more than 26 million Americans today living with chronic kidney disease, and millions more are at significant risk of developing it. It is very important to detect disease progression in its early stages, before kidney disease progresses to kidney failure. The leading cause of death for people who have chronic kidney disease is actually heart disease caused by kidney difficulties. Kidney disease can contribute to hypertension, which is itself a source of all sorts of problems. An indication of chronic kidney disease is too much protein in the urine.
Diabetes, high blood pressure, and a family history increase the risk of kidney disease. It also occurs more often in people of African-American, Hispanic, Native American, or Pacific Islander descent. Symptoms of kidney disease include increased urination, fatigue, nausea and/or vomiting, drowsiness, decreased appetite, difficulty concentrating, itchy skin, numbness, muscle cramps, and darker skin color. Several tests are needed to make an accurate diagnosis, such as urine albumin and serum creatinine. Blood pressure tests are sometimes a good indicator for the young or those who do not have major risk factors for hypertension.
Chronic kidney disease often develops so slowly that there are no initial symptoms. It is even possible to have chronic kidney disease and acute kidney disease at the same time. Acute kidney disease is a more pronounced decline in function characterized by decreased urination and other problems with body fluids. Because it comes on suddenly and acutely, acute kidney disease is extremely dangerous. Anyone who develops symptoms of kidney disease should immediately see a doctor to prevent any possible development.
As with so many bodily processes, diet can have an effect on chronic kidney disease. Protein plays an important role. The protein is digested and creates waste products. Normally, the kidneys will filter waste materials with cells called nephrons. Diseased kidneys cannot process waste in the same way, and instead, protein waste products enter the bloodstream. The first four stages of the disease will probably require the patient to take less protein. Stage five is a complete reversal, and additional protein intake is required.
Chronic kidney disease is divided into five stages based on the glomerular filtration rate, or GFR, which is basically the amount of blood the kidneys can filter. Properly functioning kidneys can filter 18 gallons of blood in one hour. This is half of all the fluid that enters the body and you should produce about two quarts of urine per day.
– Stage I has a GFR of 90 or more, which is perfectly normal. The only indicator of trouble is a large amount of protein in the urine.
– Stage II: FG of 60-89
– Stage III: FG of 30-59
– Stage IV: FG from 15-29. This is the final stage where the kidneys cannot function without help.
After this, dialysis is necessary.
Protein will build up in the blood at this stage, causing loss of appetite, weakness, vomiting and/or nausea, and sometimes even changes in how things taste. It is vitally important to control the level of blood pressure and the amount of protein ingested. Diabetics should also watch their blood sugar levels.
Protein intake should be around 12-15% of total calories in the first three stages of CKD. This is not much different from a regular diet. Just as an example, a typical vegan diet contains around 10%-12% protein.
In stage IV, the patient must take less protein, perhaps around ten percent. This is not easy to do, considering how many foods contain at least some protein. It can also lead to deficiencies, so it’s important to consult a doctor before making such drastic changes to your diet.
There are two basic places to get protein in your diet: animals and plants. This makes sense, since these are the sources of all foods. However, the proteins from the two sources have some differences. Animal protein is where most people get their main supply of protein, but it has the side effect of creating more protein waste products, which is a problem for already struggling kidneys. There are also some animal-based proteins that increase phosphorus levels in the body to dangerous levels, such as those found in milk, yogurt, and cheese. There are even some plant proteins that can increase this mineral, such as those found in peas, nuts, seeds, and dried beans.
In general, plant-based protein can slow the progress of chronic kidney disease, at least somewhat. A plant-based diet can provide protein while producing minimal amounts of protein waste, maintaining adequate levels of sodium, potassium, and phosphorus, and providing the patient with balanced nutrition.
Even for the chronic kidney disease patient, some protein is needed. After water, protein is the most common substance in the human body. It is possible to take too much protein, but it is also necessary to live. Lean muscles are created from protein. Protein also aids in the digestion process, sleep, and ovulation.
How protein supplements can help
The illness that accompanies kidney disease can make it difficult for a patient to eat a traditional meal. A protein shake or liquid protein supplement can be a good meal replacement. The protein in supplements is also easier to digest, which means fewer waste products in your bloodstream. The qualities of a good protein supplement include:
– The adequate amount of protein for the patient’s current diet
– The best quality of proteins and other nutrients.
– The absence of ingredients that may be harmful to the current diet
– Good taste and easy to drink
One option to consider is a liquid protein injection. Consult your doctor before adding a dietary supplement to your diet. Diabetics should be especially careful with changes to their diets. There are protein supplements that are made specifically for diabetics.