KIDNEY WATCH AUSTRALIA
Nutrition, Salt and Kidney Disease
We know the importance of nutrition in maintaining health and well-being but it becomes even more so when you are diagnosed with kidney disease.
When food is broken down in the stomach and intestines, waste is made. The kidneys are responsible for removing this waste from the blood. If the kidneys are not working properly, the waste builds up in the bloodstream, which can make you feel weak, tired and sick.
The kidneys also regulate your body's fluid balance. Some people with kidney disease may retain fluid, which leads to puffiness, swollen ankles, hands and feet, and breathlessness.
If the kidneys start to fail, they find it difficult to cope with normal food intake. It is important to maintain an adequate calorie intake in order to avoid weight loss and most people in the period before dialysis commences feel less nausea and have a better appetite if they restrict the amount of protein taken. At this stage it may also be necessary to restrict the intake of potassium.
Salt affects the amount of fluid the body retains. It also increases thirst, which can result in drinking more fluid than the kidneys can remove, leading to possible fluid retention.
The amount of salt you take should not be excessive although a normal amount is usually needed to avoid becoming too dry.
You can enhance the flavour of cooking in healthy ways by using natural herbs and spices instead of salt. Salt substitutes must not be used for they almost all contain high amounts of potassium. Safe alternatives to salt include black pepper, garlic, tarragon, mint, onion, bay leaf, cloves, curry, rosemary, honey and cinnamon.
For kidney health information and advice call the Kidney Health Info Line (freecall) 1800 682 531 or TTY 1800 005 881, or visit the Kidney Health Australia website www.kidney.org.au
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