New nutrition guidelines for chronic kidney disease

If you suffer from chronic kidney disease, you should know that through dietary management the symptoms can be greatly relieved. We tell you the keys to achieve it.

Last update: July 21, 2022

Optimizing nutrition in chronic kidney disease is crucial to improve the quality of life of patients and thus prevent the progression of the pathology. In recent years, there has been a change in trend in terms of nutritional intake that is good to know, although each case will always have to be analyzed separately.

An adequate diet can serve to enhance the effects of pharmacology or to facilitate the lifestyle that accompanies many chronic diseases. With an optimal guideline, a state of well-being will be achieved.

Proteins in chronic kidney disease

One of the nutrients that is closely watched in the context of chronic kidney disease is protein. Until very recently, a significant reduction in its consumption was recommended to prevent the progression of the pathology and to reduce the workload of the kidneys. Nevertheless, current trends are committed to the substitution of part of the protein of animal origin for another of vegetable origin.

In this way, protein catabolism can be prevented internally, something that in the medium term would result in sarcopenia. This pathology is harmful to the body and usually worsens the prognosis of other morbidities. To avoid it, it is crucial to meet protein requirements throughout the day, as evidenced by research published in the journal BioMed Research International.

It is true that proteins of animal origin have a higher biological value and concentrate all the essential amino acids. Nevertheless, vegetables have a simpler digestion, causing less workload in kidneys and liver. This would not be relevant in the context of healthy people, but when there is pathology in one of the filtering organs, it could make a difference.

The kidneys have a filter function that can be affected when the load of protein of animal origin is high.

Diet optimization to reduce inflammation

People who have developed chronic kidney disease tend to have increased levels of systemic inflammation. This causes other systems to begin to fail in their operation, generating comorbid pathologies.

In fact, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome in these people is high. To avoid this situation, some dietary strategies will have to be implemented.

The first one is to increase the consumption of vegetables. Both fruits and vegetables are a source of phytochemicals, elements with a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action.

They are capable of neutralizing the formation of free radicals and their subsequent accumulation in the tissues, which is associated with a decrease in the risk of developing other pathologies. This is confirmed by a study published in European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

In general terms, It is advisable to prioritize the intake of vegetables over fruit. The latter have certain simple sugars inside that may not be positive if they are consumed in large quantities or if there are underlying diseases. This does not mean that they cannot appear in the guideline, but that greater importance should be given to other groups of vegetables, such as cruciferous vegetables.

Beware of metabolic acidosis

In the context of chronic kidney disease, a situation known as metabolic acidosisderived from the inability of the kidneys to filter excretion products and metabolites. The odds are increased when the dietary pattern contains many foods of animal origin, since the synthesis of acid increases, due to the sulfur present in amino acids such as methionine and cysteine.

For this reason, it will be important to prioritize the intake of plant-based foods in this kind of situation, as we have already mentioned. It does not mean that meat, dairy and eggs cannot appear, but that their prominence will have to be reduced.

Otherwise, acidosis could develop with subsequent loss of calcium through the urine. The consequence is osteoporosis.

Phosphorus and potassium content of the diet

Two of the key micronutrients in the management of chronic kidney disease are phosphorus and potassium; especially when receiving dialysis. There was always a tendency to restrict their contribution in these patients. However, the most recent research indicates that the phosphorus and potassium present in plant-based foods are not excessively bioavailable, in part due to the presence of fiber.

This last substance increases the volume of the fecal bolus and facilitates motility, but it also acts as antinutrient. On the other hand, it is responsible for serving as an energy substrate for the bacteria that live in the digestive tract and that make up the microbiota.

The latter is positive, since maintaining density and diversity of microorganisms in the intestine has been associated with better general health.

What seems clear is that the need for fiber in the regimen of patients with chronic kidney disease is another reason for the frequent inclusion of vegetables. At the same time, it is convenient to run analyzes every so often to verify that the nutrient levels are adequate.

The increase in vegetables seems to be the central recommendation of the new guidelines for kidney patients.

Optimizing nutrition in chronic kidney disease is possible

Currently, it is estimated that 9% of the adult world population suffers from chronic kidney disease. In this sense, it is essential to know how to optimize the diet to facilitate the management of the pathology.

Also to prevent its progression. On the contrary, regular dialysis may be required or the kidneys may even stop performing their functionswhich is considered high risk.

This does not mean that we must also focus on other lifestyle habits. It is important to prevent overweight and obesity to avoid situations that would further aggravate inflammation in the internal environment.

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