Stage 3 Kidney Disease and Diet: What can I eat?

Posted by carnes @carnes, Jun 11, 2018

It seems there is very little you can eat that is healthy for the Kidneys. The web site Davida has plenty of food on it but contradicts what other sources say. Anyone know anything for breakfast, lunch and dinner that does not have any sugar or flour bodies the obvious boring or bland foods good for Kidneys and I’m allergic to sugar of any kind of sweetener and flour. Thank you.

@teachaero

I do love hiking and working out. I actually teach Spin classes at the gym and have neither high BP or diabetes, but both of my parents have kidney problems. I found out that I have stage three CKD two weeks ago. It has been upsetting, but I am researching all I can. I can’t get a nephrologist appointment until mid and late August, so I’m trying to make dietary changes on my own. Given three blood tests in June, my creatinine swung from 1.3, to 1.1, back to 1.3, so my GFR also moved between 49, then 60, back to 49. I’m optimistic that with some changes I can get my levels to settle at a higher point. I go from feeling ok emotionally to overwhelmed and anxious. I was glad to find this group and everyone seems supportive.

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@teachaero, both my pcp and neph tell me as we age it's normal for GFR to decrease. IDK how old you are but I'd give the Skrat from Ice Age a delectable acorn if my GFR was 60 instead of 33 at age 74!

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@kamama94

@teachaero, both my pcp and neph tell me as we age it's normal for GFR to decrease. IDK how old you are but I'd give the Skrat from Ice Age a delectable acorn if my GFR was 60 instead of 33 at age 74!

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Yes, I believe it is true that kidney function declines with age. So, too, does the work the kidneys need to do. In other words, generally, we are less active and our food intake is often reduced — both of which impact the kidneys. The trick is for the decline in kidney function not outpace the need :-).

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@teachaero

I do love hiking and working out. I actually teach Spin classes at the gym and have neither high BP or diabetes, but both of my parents have kidney problems. I found out that I have stage three CKD two weeks ago. It has been upsetting, but I am researching all I can. I can’t get a nephrologist appointment until mid and late August, so I’m trying to make dietary changes on my own. Given three blood tests in June, my creatinine swung from 1.3, to 1.1, back to 1.3, so my GFR also moved between 49, then 60, back to 49. I’m optimistic that with some changes I can get my levels to settle at a higher point. I go from feeling ok emotionally to overwhelmed and anxious. I was glad to find this group and everyone seems supportive.

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@teachaero From experience I know that lab values can show "wonky" [My favorite word today!] values at times. What you have been eating or not eating, your hydration levels at time of the test, even the time of day labs are pulled, can affect the results. A good Dr will look at the values over a range of time. And, I second what @maxwell123 and @kamama94 say about kidney function having a natural decrease as we mature into senior years, and a kidney disease will hasten the decrease in function. Have the Dr's given you any indication for the reason for decline?
Ginger

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@kamama94

@teachaero, both my pcp and neph tell me as we age it's normal for GFR to decrease. IDK how old you are but I'd give the Skrat from Ice Age a delectable acorn if my GFR was 60 instead of 33 at age 74!

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I’m 47 a month from today, so pretty young I think.

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@gingerw

@teachaero From experience I know that lab values can show "wonky" [My favorite word today!] values at times. What you have been eating or not eating, your hydration levels at time of the test, even the time of day labs are pulled, can affect the results. A good Dr will look at the values over a range of time. And, I second what @maxwell123 and @kamama94 say about kidney function having a natural decrease as we mature into senior years, and a kidney disease will hasten the decrease in function. Have the Dr's given you any indication for the reason for decline?
Ginger

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My mom and dad both have had kidney problems and I took some meds for incessant acne over the years that could have contributed to the problem. I’m working hard to change my diet to lower protein while monitoring potassium, phosphorus and sodium. I’m concerned I’m going to be deficient in some nutrients, though, because there isn’t a lot I can find that is “ok” to eat.

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@teachaero

My mom and dad both have had kidney problems and I took some meds for incessant acne over the years that could have contributed to the problem. I’m working hard to change my diet to lower protein while monitoring potassium, phosphorus and sodium. I’m concerned I’m going to be deficient in some nutrients, though, because there isn’t a lot I can find that is “ok” to eat.

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What kidney problems did your parents have and do they know the cause? At age 47 and a 50 to 60 GFR I'm not sure I would hit the panic button yet. You are correct that labs will vary, but if you see a good nephrologist they can run labs in connection with a 24-hour urine test. It tells them much more about the function of your kidneys (both are run in combination). I suspect unless there is a genetic component about the only way a nephrologist will know for sure what is causing the problem is to take a kidney biopsy, which is something to very careful with. If it were me and If you are close to Mayo I would be finding nephrologist there for at least a second opinion. Also, diet is very important. While it may not be for everyone, here is what I did: 1) became a vegan, 2) no processed foods, 3) calorie-restricted diet of about 1000 calories a day 4) take a plant-based protein powder for my protein and be sure not to exceed my daily target amount and 5) walk 3 to 5 miles a day (you are getting the same benefit from spinning). It seems to have worked for my sick kidneys — which are much worse than yours. My GFR is about 17 up from 13 two years ago (previously spent three years on dialysis). By the way, phosphorous and potassium are not a problem unless they are high on your lab. I'm not sure they cause stress on your kidneys as animal protein does. Finally, if you have labs drawn within a day or so of a heavy workout, that will surely impact your creatinine which is a major component of calculating your GFR. Also, be sure you are hydrated before your labs. By the way, you should sure talk with your doctor before doing any of this. My doc approved all of this for me (although several of the items were my idea).

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@maxwell123

What kidney problems did your parents have and do they know the cause? At age 47 and a 50 to 60 GFR I'm not sure I would hit the panic button yet. You are correct that labs will vary, but if you see a good nephrologist they can run labs in connection with a 24-hour urine test. It tells them much more about the function of your kidneys (both are run in combination). I suspect unless there is a genetic component about the only way a nephrologist will know for sure what is causing the problem is to take a kidney biopsy, which is something to very careful with. If it were me and If you are close to Mayo I would be finding nephrologist there for at least a second opinion. Also, diet is very important. While it may not be for everyone, here is what I did: 1) became a vegan, 2) no processed foods, 3) calorie-restricted diet of about 1000 calories a day 4) take a plant-based protein powder for my protein and be sure not to exceed my daily target amount and 5) walk 3 to 5 miles a day (you are getting the same benefit from spinning). It seems to have worked for my sick kidneys — which are much worse than yours. My GFR is about 17 up from 13 two years ago (previously spent three years on dialysis). By the way, phosphorous and potassium are not a problem unless they are high on your lab. I'm not sure they cause stress on your kidneys as animal protein does. Finally, if you have labs drawn within a day or so of a heavy workout, that will surely impact your creatinine which is a major component of calculating your GFR. Also, be sure you are hydrated before your labs. By the way, you should sure talk with your doctor before doing any of this. My doc approved all of this for me (although several of the items were my idea).

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My mom passed in December from COPD, so for both of my parents, I always thought smoking was part of what caused their kidney problems. Also, my mom had very high BP that was often neglected. So honestly, I’m not completely sure what caused their kidney issues. My dad has one that was dead removed about 15 years ago, but on my ultrasound mine looked fine. Hopefully I’ll know more in a month when I see a nephrologist. I have two appointments set up here in the Chicago area. My goal is to get one at Mayo next summer. I’m a teacher and I’ll be off again. It’s very hard to get appointments, I’m assuming because stage three is still considered “good”. I’m trying to eat more vegan, but I’m having trouble getting enough calories unless I have an English muffin and some peanut butter, which I see is often on the bad food lists. Also, the ranges I’m using for nutrients are guesses from all the various sources. Doc said watch potassium and sodium, but they were normal in my labs. Until I know more I’m a little afraid of protein. Plant based M-F, and I’ve allowed fish on the weekend.

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@teachaero

My mom passed in December from COPD, so for both of my parents, I always thought smoking was part of what caused their kidney problems. Also, my mom had very high BP that was often neglected. So honestly, I’m not completely sure what caused their kidney issues. My dad has one that was dead removed about 15 years ago, but on my ultrasound mine looked fine. Hopefully I’ll know more in a month when I see a nephrologist. I have two appointments set up here in the Chicago area. My goal is to get one at Mayo next summer. I’m a teacher and I’ll be off again. It’s very hard to get appointments, I’m assuming because stage three is still considered “good”. I’m trying to eat more vegan, but I’m having trouble getting enough calories unless I have an English muffin and some peanut butter, which I see is often on the bad food lists. Also, the ranges I’m using for nutrients are guesses from all the various sources. Doc said watch potassium and sodium, but they were normal in my labs. Until I know more I’m a little afraid of protein. Plant based M-F, and I’ve allowed fish on the weekend.

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@teachaero Blood pressure issues and diabetes seem to be the 2 major causes for kidney diseases as far as non-hereditary. My kidney disorder is a very rare autoimmune disease. I think as far as diet, if you make subtle changes not a dramatic change that your body acclimates better. That's just my been my own personal experience. And you will find what works for you. Personally I cannot go vegan I have to have my chicken, turkey and fish. But I rarely eat red meat. Watch banana, tomato, potato consumption. Use salt-free seasonings. You can keep a decline at bay; I have. Since retiring 4 yrs ago due to medical issues, my GFR has only decreased 6 points. Keeping yourself as stress free as possible also helps.
Ginger

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@teachaero

My mom passed in December from COPD, so for both of my parents, I always thought smoking was part of what caused their kidney problems. Also, my mom had very high BP that was often neglected. So honestly, I’m not completely sure what caused their kidney issues. My dad has one that was dead removed about 15 years ago, but on my ultrasound mine looked fine. Hopefully I’ll know more in a month when I see a nephrologist. I have two appointments set up here in the Chicago area. My goal is to get one at Mayo next summer. I’m a teacher and I’ll be off again. It’s very hard to get appointments, I’m assuming because stage three is still considered “good”. I’m trying to eat more vegan, but I’m having trouble getting enough calories unless I have an English muffin and some peanut butter, which I see is often on the bad food lists. Also, the ranges I’m using for nutrients are guesses from all the various sources. Doc said watch potassium and sodium, but they were normal in my labs. Until I know more I’m a little afraid of protein. Plant based M-F, and I’ve allowed fish on the weekend.

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High BP will sure do it. I also agree smoking probably does not help. Regarding visiting an expert at Mayo, I have never been. But, I did make plans to go about a year ago and had to cancel. I found it to be very easy and quick. I am working on that again, but this time with a different purpose. It's good you will be seen in a few weeks. Sometimes kidney issues can move very quickly and most often they are not reversible. So, you do want to have it looked at. Regarding your food list, I'm not sure where you are getting your information. Often times renal diets are for those who are on dialysis and have little to no renal function. That does not apply to those who have renal function and just want to keep it. Regarding calories and nutrition, I use an app called "Lose It." It does an excellent job of tracking your nutrition intake with a very extensive database of foods. It makes it very easy to stay on plan. Peanut butter is very high in protein — but it is not animal-based. As you probably know, your body needs protein. It is a double-edged sword, though — you just don't need to exceed your target if you are working on helping your kidneys. As for english muffin, I don't know why that would be on the list you are reading. Maybe sodium. But, if your labs show your sodium to be in range, then I'm not sure I would worry about that. Regarding calories, as I mentioned, I have been on a 1000 calorie a day diet for well over two years. Except for my kidney issues, my labs are perfect. So, I'm not putting myself into malnutrition and I do believe the lightened load has helped my kidneys. I do eat lots of nuts and salads. Good luck.

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@gingerw

@teachaero Blood pressure issues and diabetes seem to be the 2 major causes for kidney diseases as far as non-hereditary. My kidney disorder is a very rare autoimmune disease. I think as far as diet, if you make subtle changes not a dramatic change that your body acclimates better. That's just my been my own personal experience. And you will find what works for you. Personally I cannot go vegan I have to have my chicken, turkey and fish. But I rarely eat red meat. Watch banana, tomato, potato consumption. Use salt-free seasonings. You can keep a decline at bay; I have. Since retiring 4 yrs ago due to medical issues, my GFR has only decreased 6 points. Keeping yourself as stress free as possible also helps.
Ginger

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@gingerw I do not have kidney problems but this is good info. Immunosuppressants can cause problems so I know I am at risk. MGH keeps a close watch on me to make sure my kidneys (and everything else) is doing well. I actually heard of one transplant center that told their liver transplant patients that there was a high risk that they would eventually require a kidney transplant!
I also am diabetic, and my BP is borderline.
I too could not go vegan. We eat fish twice a week, and chicken or lean ground turkey many nights. I generally will do beef one time a week.
Stress really is bad for your health. My stress generally comes in spurts in response to specific situations.
JK

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@contentandwell

@gingerw I do not have kidney problems but this is good info. Immunosuppressants can cause problems so I know I am at risk. MGH keeps a close watch on me to make sure my kidneys (and everything else) is doing well. I actually heard of one transplant center that told their liver transplant patients that there was a high risk that they would eventually require a kidney transplant!
I also am diabetic, and my BP is borderline.
I too could not go vegan. We eat fish twice a week, and chicken or lean ground turkey many nights. I generally will do beef one time a week.
Stress really is bad for your health. My stress generally comes in spurts in response to specific situations.
JK

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JK if your kidney function is compromised (high creatinine and high BUN), I would sure rethink. my food routine. While I understand everyone lives to eat, when it comes down to making a choice of eating what you like and kidney failure that was quite an easy decision for me. That is especially true after living on dialysis for several years. So far, vegan and calorie restriction has worked out great for my kidneys and my overall health, too. So, too, has being off dialysis!

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@maxwell123

JK if your kidney function is compromised (high creatinine and high BUN), I would sure rethink. my food routine. While I understand everyone lives to eat, when it comes down to making a choice of eating what you like and kidney failure that was quite an easy decision for me. That is especially true after living on dialysis for several years. So far, vegan and calorie restriction has worked out great for my kidneys and my overall health, too. So, too, has being off dialysis!

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@maxwell123 I agree, health comes first. At this point, as long as I drink the hefty amount of water that has been advised – 80 to 100 ounces a day — my creatine and bun are good. Changing immunosuppressants helped a lot.
JK

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Hi everyone,
You may be familiar with a feature on Connect called Member Spotlights (https://connect.mayoclinic.org/newsfeed-post/connect-member-spotlights-shining-a-light-on-community-members/).

I think the members of this conversation about 3rd stage kidney disease will be particularly interested to read today's member spotlight about @2011panc, who's been active in this discussion.

Finding open, honest conversations with others: Meet @2011panc https://connect.mayoclinic.org/page/about-connect/newsfeed-post/finding-open-honest-conversations-with-others-meet-2011panc

If you'd like to look at other member spotlights in the future, you can subscribe (+Follow) to the About Connect page https://connect.mayoclinic.org/page/about-connect/ to see new member spotlights published every 2 weeks.

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@kamama94

Just got lab results. GFR slightly up from 35 at 37, BUN down from 40 to 37, Cr down from 1.47 to 1.41. Potassium is normal at 4.5 (was 4.8) Values indicate mild improvement in kidney function. I'm wondering how much my vegetarian renal diet has to do with the slowly improving values. Any feedback will be appreciated.

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My husband's kidneys are funtioning at37%. We found out the day his Kidneys was functioning at 37% in Jun that they had been at 31% in Dec. 2018. VA didn't say anything about him being at 31% which is almost at stage 4. So I have been trying to find a good diet for him. He loves his salt. So its very hard to keep that away from him. Plus Potassium. I let him once a week have whatever he wants. He has proteins in his urine. He's had 2 UTIs in 6 months time. VA clinic don't know how to read the Lab Reports. First UTI landed him in the hospital. Second one I found out and took him to an Urologist. Wednesday he has an lazor surgery on his Prostate. For 9 years he has been asking for the VA to check his Prostate. All they do is Medicate any problem but never tried to cure anything.
They won't let him go outside for anything. They have funds for the Outside (Choice Program) but its always broke fur to they use the funds for Bonuses, Raises and Promotions. Obama used it when he first got it up and running to help the Refugees and Illegals.
I have been trying to do my best to find a good diet. They all contradict each other. You can't really do it alone. You need a dietitian or a nutritionist. The VA didn't recommend one and we didn't know anything about it until recently. He doesn't have another appointment until Dec. 5/2019. With kidney disease and UTIs go hand and hand. You need to be seen every 3 months. Not 6-7 months.

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