Renal diet vegetables
By DaVita renal dietitian Chhaya Patel, MA, RD, CSR
A vegetarian is a person who follows a specific diet and has specific food choices which include plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, soy, nuts and seeds. Vegetarians do not consume meat, but depending on what type of vegetarian they are, they may eat other products from animal sources.
There are a few reasons why people choose a vegetarian lifestyle. According to a survey conducted in 2000 by the RPG (Renal Dietitians Practice Group), most vegetarians follow this diet due to ethnic tradition, spiritual or religious reasons, concern for animals, health concerns or a lack of taste for meat.
Most vegetarians fall into one of the following categories:
If you are diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and are a vegetarian you can continue the practice. You do not have to start eating meat because you have CKD or have started dialysis. In order to combine your vegetarian lifestyle with a renal diet, you will need to devise a meal plan to fit your nutritional needs. You should talk with a renal dietitian about kidney-friendly foods that are vegetarian-specific. Here are some things your dietitian may help with for your new diet:
- Monitor your calorie intake to make sure you are getting enough calories.
- Include vegetarian sources of protein and calorie supplements when needed.
- Increase your phosphate binders that may be needed for meals and snacks.
- Suggest a lower potassium dialysate for those on dialysis to control potassium levels.
- Make sure your dialysis prescription is adjusted as needed for acceptable urea clearances.
- Provide resources, recipes and renal education materials specific to your needs.
Vegetarian diets can meet the higher protein needs of a dialysis patient. Protein is made up of chains of amino acids, which are sometimes referred to as “the building blocks of life.” Plant foods contain most of the essential amino acids. Some plant foods, such as soy, are considered as complete protein foods because it provides all the essential amino acids. Some plant protein may lack one or more essential amino acids, but a variety of vegetarian foods combined throughout the day to provide adequate amounts of essential amino acids without consuming meat, eggs or milk. Plant protein can provide adequate protein into your kidney diet.
Protein enriched foods for vegetarians on a kidney diet may include:
- Meat analogs (meat substitutes such as soy burgers, tofu, hot dogs and deli slices)
- Soy products (tofu, tempeh)
- Beans and lentils
- Nuts and nut butters
- Eggs and egg substitutes
- Dairy products
The protein and nutrient content can vary for tofu products, soymilks and meat analogs. It is important to check product labels for the specific nutrient content per serving (such as protein, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, etc.). Powder and liquid protein supplements may be an option for patients with unusually high protein needs or who are unable to meet their protein needs by food alone.
The Renal Patient's Guide to Good Eating: A Cookbook for Patients by a Patient
Book (Charles C Thomas Pub Ltd)
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Excess Dietary Protein Can Adversely Affect Bone
Excerpt from this detailed report:
"The average American diet, which is high in protein and low in fruits and vegetables, generates a large amount of acid, mainly as sulfates and phosphates. The kidneys respond to this dietary acid challenge with net acid excretion, as well as ammonium and titratable acid excretion. ... We conclude that excessive dietary protein from foods with high potential renal acid load adversely affects bone, unless buffered by the consumption of alkali-rich foods or supplements."