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 dietitian 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 micro nutrients is 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 tissues.

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 milk products. Nuts and legumes e.g. dried beans are also sources. 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 tissues need to grow. It is a poor-quality protein and of little or no value to the body and when consumed in excess it can result in excessive urea formation.

You need both kinds of protein. Your dietitian 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 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. It 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 are increased.

Too little potassium in your diet is also harmful. Foods which contain large amounts of potassium include : coffee, whole-wheat products, oranges, bananas, avocado pears, dried fruit, fruit juice, mango, potatoes, cauliflower, spinach, raw carrots, legumes, nuts, organ meats, salt substitutes, chocolate, brown sugar and liquorice.

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 dietitian 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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