The Kidneys are the main organs responsible for the elimination of waste products from the body in the form of urine. Its accessory functions include RBC formation (erythropoiesis), maintenance of blood pressure and electrolyte balance.
Kidneys are the vital organs of the human body. Their normal and proper working is quintessential to health. When due to certain congenital or acquired factors, kidneys are not able to work properly there occurs a progressive accumulation of toxins in the body. The symptoms of such toxicity include lethargy, edema, confusion, abnormal heart rhythms etc.
KIDNEY FAILURE – ACUTE OR CHRONIC?
Kidney failure in the literal sense means a loss of kidney function in which all processes related to the kidneys are compromised. This is an emergency condition and requires immediate action. Kidney failure has been categorized into two types depending up on the onset of the disease which may be either sudden or gradual.
ACUTE RENAL FAILURE (ARF)
Acute kidney failure is a sudden loss of kidney function leading to an alarmingly high levels of toxic chemicals in the blood. The good thing is that it is a reversible process but it requires immediate attention.
CAUSES OF ARF (ACUTE RENAL FAILURE)
It may occur due to-
- A reduced blood flow to the kidneys like in case of severe dehydration, heart diseases, Blood pressure medications etc.
- Damaged within the kidneys – Toxins, vasculitis, certain medicines, SLE (systemic lupus erythematous), cholesterol deposits in the blood vessels of the kidney etc.
- Blockage post the kidney system or post renal problems affecting the movement of urine out of the body. These include – bladder cancer, prostate cancer, cervical cancers, kidney stones, nerve damage etc.
CHRONIC RENAL FAILURE
It involves a progressive loss of kidney function, which may occur over a period of time that varies from, person to person and the health of the patient in general. The loss of function is so gradual that it sometimes goes undetected for a long time, till then, serious damage to the kidney has already occured.
CAUSES OF CRF (Chronic Renal Failure)
The most common causes of chronic renal failure are the two type of Diabetes – type- 1&2 and Hypertension. Besides other factors include many medical conditions that are affecting the kidneys like:-
- Recurrent kidney infections causing pyelonephritis.
- Poly cystic kidney disease
- Renal stones causing stasis of the waste material in the kidneys.
- Medications that are harmful to the kidneys, excessive use of these causes the disease.
- Hardening of the arteries.
- Blockage in the urinary system.
DIET IN RENAL FAILURE
Renal failure patients need to be very specific about the food they are eating. There has to be a precise check on the amount of proteins, sodium, potassium, calcium and phosphorus that is being consumed as any excess will lead to higher levels of these elements in blood causing toxic symptoms and serious damage to the various body tissues. It is to be recommended here that the dietary recommendations do not vary much in case of either acute or chronic renal failure. However, the diet chart should be formulated, keeping in mind other primary or secondary health problems that a person is dealing with apart from renal failure.
PROTEIN INTAKE – The requirement is different for different people, so there cannot be a set guideline for the amount of protein that should be consumed by such patients. Consult your dietician and formulate a diet plan accordingly.
PHOSPHORUS INTAKE – High phosphorus levels in blood cause bone resorption and damage the blood vessels. Foods like whole grains, dairy products, nuts, beans, colas etc. have very high phosphorus content and should be avoided.
SODIUM INTAKE – High blood sodium cause elevated blood pressure levels and water retention in the body. In case of renal failure, the kidneys are not able to excrete out the extra sodium produced by the kidneys. The recommended dosage should not exceed more than 2gm/ day.
When going for a salt substitute avoid the ones containing potassium. Renal failure patients need to avoid both these cations in diet.
POTASSIUM INTAKE – Elevated potassium levels in blood cause heart problems and disrupt cardiac rhythm. Try and consume foods with low potassium content. Avoid bananas, oranges, lime, potato, bran etc. which are rich in potassium.
WATER INTAKE – Drink ample water, good enough to keep the body well hydrated. It is not recommended to overdo the process though. Drinking more than normal water will not be of any good.
- If you are diabetic, check your blood sugar levels.
- Apart from water, be careful to measure the amount of fluid that you are consuming in the form of beverages.
- Avoid alcohol and quit smoking if you are habitual of the two.
- For protein replacement egg whites are a good option. For vegetarians, green gram and pink lentils can be safely consumed.
- Fresh fruit juices are good except that if you are looking to avoid potassium, orange juice and lime juices are not recommended. Apple juice can however be consumed.
Patients of renal failure tend to suffer from a loss of appetite. Therefore, it is very important to chart out a diet regimen for renal failure patients and to make them stick to it. Renal failure is an emergency condition and one should not allow malnutrition to become another reason for worsening of the symptoms.