The major parts of the renal diet part 1 (protein and potassium)

The most important foods to control are those containing protein, potassium, sodium, phosphorous and fluid. Your dietician will help you set up a meal plan which will contain the right amount of these nutrients for you, depending on body size, type of dialysis and medical condition. In this part, protein and potassium is covered, and the other micronutrients are covered in part 2.


Protein is vital for the formation, growth and maintenance of cells (cells are tiny structures that make up all living organisms), muscles and tissue.

Protein is important in fighting illnesses. When protein is broken down, urea and creatinine are formed. These substances, in large amounts, are poisonous to the body and must be excreted. There are two kinds of protein found in foods:

High quality protein (or animal protein) – These come from eggs, meat, fish, chicken, milk and dairy products. This group of protein contains all the needed ingredients for tissue growth.

Low quality protein (or plant protein) – These come from certain vegetables (pumpkin, carrots, beetroot, etc.), starches (bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, mealies and cereals), and are lacking in some of the ingredients that tissue needs to grow. It is a poor-quality protein and of little or no value to the body, and when consumed in excess, can result in excessive urea formation.

You need both kinds of protein. Your dietician will figure out your dietary prescription to include a mix of these proteins.

Careful measuring of these foods will not only make you feel better, but will also help control the waste level build-up in your blood.

What is potassium?

Potassium is an electrolyte. Healthy kidneys get rid of any excess potassium from food you have eaten. If your kidneys are damaged, they may not be able to excrete potassium well enough. Potassium then builds up in your body.

Too high potassium levels are dangerous. They can make your heart beat irregularly, or even stop. This can occur without warning.

In catabolic states where the patients are using body tissue as an energy source, the potassium release from the cells is increased.

Too little potassium in your diet is also harmful. Foods which contain large amounts of potassium include: 3-4 cups of coffee per day, especially when milk is added, whole wheat products, oranges, bananas, avocado pears, dried fruit, fruit juice, mangoes, potatoes, cauliflower and raw spinach.

Foods which are moderate potassium sources are: beef, mutton, poultry, vegetables (root and green), fish, eggs and cheese.

POOR SOURCES are: corn starch, honey, white sugar, marmalade, jam, oil, butter, margarine and tea.

Your dietician can help you plan a diet to limit foods high in potassium. You can control your potassium level by watching the size and number of portions and reading labels for ingredients.

11 September 2020

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