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The Low Protein Diet
Research has shown that when you maintain your normal nutritional status and remain on the very-low-protein diet, you may be able to delay dialysis for many years! We have compiled searches on the medical literature on the low protein diet for the treatment of kidney failure, from American, French, Italian, Romanian, Czech, and Swedish Researchers. You may click on the links to view recent research from these groups.
You need to start on a very low protein diet. That means approximately 20 grams of protein per day from your food! The amount you will need will vary slightly based on your body weight.
What's the basis for this diet?
When you take in protein, your kidneys function as the garbage men (so to speak). Proteins are long chains of building blocks called amino acids. Each protein in your body has a specific set of plans that call for different numbers and arrangements of amino acids. Before your body can repair or build the proteins it needs that day, the protein taken in has to be broken down into parts you can use (the amino acids). Then the waste materials, the things left over from the breakdown job (excess amino acids or short chains of amino acids that haven't been broken all the way down to single amino acids), must be cleaned away. That, in a nutshell, is the function of your kidneys. When your kidneys are not working well, you need to lighten the load (less waste to handle).
How can you reduce the protein you eat each day?
A dietician who is familiar with the very low protein diet Dr. Walser used, can be a great help in designing a diet plan. Karen Bishop, RDN is one such example of a dietician who is familiar with the very low protein diet. You may click here to be redirected to her webpage.
In the meantime, we can give you a number of general principles based upon limiting your protein. You will need to count the amount of protein in every food you eat. As you look at the tables of foods that you may eat and foods that you should limit, notice that animal products, (fish, fowl, beef, pork, etc.), beans, nuts and diary products and eggs are prohibited. While it won't kill you immediately to eat a lot of these foods, it will certainly put a load on the waste haulers (the kidneys) and it may make you sick (one of the first signs of kidney disease is nausea and vomiting). You may use these foods to flavor (in small amounts) the foods you may eat, but feed the meats you cook with to someone with normal kidneys or your dog.
Foods you should LIMIT
(100 g is about 3 ½ ounces.)
Foods you MAY eat
As you look at the tables of foods that you should eat, notice that many are vegetables. One American staple, potatoes, should be eaten in moderation (it helps if you don't eat the peel).
Be sure that you spread your protein allocation over at least three meals (remember to lighten up on the waste haulers!).
Just because you're eating mainly vegetables doesn't mean that you don't have to watch the total quantity of veggies (remember the 20 g per day protein limit).
Remember to discuss your potassium intake with your dietitian. They may ask you to limit your potassium intake. Vegetables like spinach, bamboo shoots, bananas and dates have a high quantity of potassium. Some things, like orange juice, are no-no's.
Use corn starch, not gelatin, to thicken foods or broths. You can purchase low protein flours for baking.
Be sure to check out Virginia Schuett's "From Apples to Zucchini ". PKU is a genetic disease in which one of the amino acids, phenylalanine, will cause mental retardation if the patient eats normally. These folks have to live on 6 grams of protein per day. Since you don't have PKU, you don't have to worry about the phenylalanine content. But you do have to worry about protein content and this cookbook will show you the way to do that. By following her directions (note: this is not a diabetic cookbook), you will automatically cut down on your protein (and it will taste good). For those of you who are diabetics, remember that Schuett's warnings against aspartame use are because of the disease for which the book is written. Aspartame has been shown to be safe and tastes quite good, as most of you know. Also remember that PKU patients don't have to worry about phosphate or potassium levels, so you will need to adjust your food intake accordingly.