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Ask Tufts Experts November 2015 Issue

Q. Can you advise me about a diet for the management of chronic kidney disease?

A. Jeanne P. Goldberg, PhD, Friedman School professor and director of the Nutrition Communication Program, responds: “A useful answer to your question would require considerably more information about your specific condition and that goes beyond the scope of what we can do. We can provide some general information which should be of value as you seek the type of guidance you need.

“Kidney disease commonly occurs in individuals with diabetes and hypertension. Several dietary measures can help prevent its progression. In the early stages, it is important to keep your blood pressure at the target set by your doctor. Limiting sodium intake is one way to achieve that goal, along with medication. If you have diabetes, it is particularly important to keep your blood glucose under control. If you are overweight, it is important to lose weight because being overweight makes your kidneys work harder. Another important step is to eat the right amount of high-quality protein-rich foods from both animal and plant sources. Since protein recommendations are based on body weight, this is something to discuss with a Registered Dietitian. High-protein, low-carbohydrate diets are to be avoided for patients with kidney disease. Finally, it is important to keep your blood cholesterol level under control. If the disease progresses, it may be necessary to limit both potassium and phosphorus. Decisions to make all of these dietary modifications are based on the results of medical tests.

“Exactly how your physician will ask you to modify your diet will depend on the details of your condition, including how far the disease has progressed, your weight status, and other health problems you may have. This is a condition where you would benefit from meeting with a Registered Dietitian, who can work with you to plan a diet that meets your individual needs.”

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