Kidney Disease & Protein

There are more than 26 million Americans today who are living with chronic kidney disease, and many millions more are at significant risk of contracting it. It is very important to detect the progression of the disease in its early stages, before kidney disease becomes kidney failure. The top cause of death for people who have chronic kidney disease is actually heart disease caused by the kidney difficulties. Kidney disease can contribute to hypertension, which is a source in itself of all sorts of problems. One indication of chronic kidney disease is too much protein in the urine.

Diabetes, hypertension and family history all increase the risk of kidney disease. It also occurs more commonly in people of African-American, Hispanic, Native American or Pacific Islander descent. Symptoms of kidney disease include increased urination, fatigue, nausea and/or vomiting, drowsiness, decreased appetite, difficulty concentrating, itchy skin, numbness, muscle cramps and darker skin color. It takes several tests to perform an accurate diagnosis, such as urine albumin and serum creatinine. Blood pressure tests are sometimes a good indicator for the young or those who have no major risk factors for hypertension.

Often, chronic kidney disease develops so slowly as to have no initial symptoms whatsoever. It is even possible to have chronic kidney disease and acute kidney disease at the same time. Acute kidney disease is a sharper decline of function characterized by a decrease in urine and other problems with body fluids. Because it comes on so suddenly and sharply, acute kidney disease is extremely dangerous. Anyone who develops symptoms of kidney disease should immediately consult a physician to head off any possible development.

As with so many bodily processes, diet can have an effect on chronic kidney disease. Protein plays a large part. Protein is digested and creates waste products. Usually the kidneys will filter the waste materials with cells called nephrons. Unhealthy kidneys can’t process waste in the same way and the protein waste products enter the bloodstream instead. The first four stages of the disease will probably require the patient to take less protein. Stage five is a complete reversal, with extra protein intake being required.

Chronic kidney disease is divided into five stages based on the glomerular filtration rate, or GFR, which is basically how much blood the kidneys are able to filter. Kidneys that are working properly can filter 18 gallons of blood in an hour. This is half of all fluid taken into the body and should produce about two quarts of urine each day.

– Stage I has a GFR of 90 or above, which is perfectly normal. The only indicator of trouble is a high amount of protein in the urine.

– Stage II: GFR of 60-89

– Stage III: GFR of 30-59

– Stage IV: GFR of 15-29. This is the final stage where the kidneys cannot operate without aid.

After this, dialysis is necessary.

Protein will collect in the blood at this stage, bringing a loss of appetite, weakness, vomiting and/or nausea and sometimes even changes in the way that things taste. It is vitally important to control the blood pressure level and the amount of protein taken in. Diabetics must watch their blood sugar levels as well.

Protein intake should be around 12% to 15% of total calories in the first three stages of chronic kidney disease. This is not too different from a regular diet. Just as an example, a typical vegan diet contains about 10%-12% protein.

At stage IV, the patient should take less protein, perhaps at about ten percent. This is not easy to do, considering how many foods contain at least a little protein. It can also lead to deficiencies, which is why it is important to consult a doctor before making such drastic changes in your diet.

There are two basic places to get protein in your diet: animals and plants. This makes sense, since these are the sources of all food. The proteins of the two sources have some differences, however. Animal protein is where most people get their main protein supply, but it has a side-effect of creating more protein waste products, which is a problem for kidneys that are already suffering difficulties. There are also some animal-based proteins that increase the levels of phosphorous in the body to dangerous levels, such as those in milk, yogurt and cheese. There are even some vegetable proteins that can cause this mineral to increase, like those found in peas, nuts, seeds and dried beans.

On the whole, vegetable-based protein can slow the progress of chronic kidney disease, at least somewhat. A plant-based diet can provide protein while producing minimal amounts of protein waste, maintain proper levels of sodium, potassium and phosphorous and give the patient balanced nutrition.

Even for the chronic kidney disease patient, some protein is necessary. After water, protein is the most common substance in the human body. It is possible to take too much protein, but it is also necessary to live. Lean muscles are created from protein. Protein also helps in the digestion process, sleeping and ovulation.

How Protein Supplements Can Help

The illness that comes with kidney disease may make it difficult for a patient to take a traditional meal. A protein shake or a liquid protein supplement can be a good meal substitute. The protein in supplements is also easier to digest, which means fewer waste products in the bloodstream. The qualities of a good protein supplement include:

– The right amount of protein for the patient’s current diet

– The best quality of protein and other nutrients

– The absence of ingredients that may be harmful to the current diet

– Good tasting and easy to take

One option to consider is Profect, made by Protica. Profect is a liquid protein shot containing 25 grams of protein but only 100 calories. It is fat-free and carbohydrate-free and contains the entire daily supply of vitamin C as well as 10% of five of the B vitamins. Consult your doctor before adding Profect or any other dietary supplement to your diet. Diabetics should be especially careful with changes to their diets. There are protein supplements that are made specifically for diabetics.

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