Living Well—Doing What You Can to Keep Your Kidneys Healthy
Having lupus makes it much more likely that you will have problems with your two kidneys. These important organs do the job, among other things, of taking out waste and extra water from the blood and helping to control blood pressure.
So there’s certainly nothing to lose—and possibly a lot to gain—in how you feel by keeping these “kidney-healthy” diet tips in mind:
Limit Sodium (Salt!)
How much sodium you eat can cause the kidneys to work extra hard and raise or lower blood pressure. You’d be surprised where sodium hides—in beans, cereals, cookies, soda, and pancake mixes! Always check food nutrition labels. Sodium is listed there! Give your kidneys some rest and try to eat less than 2 grams a day.
Be Careful with Protein
Meats, dairy foods, beans, and nuts are all high in protein, an ingredient that helps build muscles and keep skin, blood vessels, and other tissues healthy. Once protein is used, your body makes a waste product called “urea.” But it’s work for the kidneys. So if you’ve had lupus kidney problems, ask your doctor how many grams of protein you should get every day.
Beware Phosphorous! (sometimes)
This mineral is in your bones. Because the kidneys in lupus aren’t always good at removing extra phosphorous, the level of another important mineral for bones—calcium—can get low. That isn’t good, because too little calcium can lead to weak and easy-to-break bones. So if you have kidney issues, try to lower your phosphorous intake from foods like beans, high-fiber cereals, beer, dark-colored sodas, and organ meats.
Lower Potassium—If Your Kidneys Are Already Sick
Since kidneys sick with lupus can lose their power to take away potassium, watch for—and lessen how much you eat—of foods with this mineral. Potassium-rich foods include bananas, dried fruits, oranges, potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, milk, cheese, seeds, nuts, and chocolate. Since a lot of these are also nutritious foods, be sure to ask your doctor or nutritionist about just how much potassium to cut!
Skip the Morning Joe (Caffeine!)
Beware: caffeine in coffee, tea, and even soda is “diuretic,” which means that your kidneys have to work extra hard to urinate out the extra fluid. This can dehydrate you. So if your kidneys are sick from lupus, give them a break and ease up on the caffeine….
Important: Just watching what you eat can’t stop or control lupus nephritis—when your two kidneys get inflamed. When this happens, strong medicines and other treatments are needed. If you have lupus nephritis, your doctor should be closely involved. Ask him for advice about your specific diet.
Let Us Help You!
No matter how careful you are with what you eat, the kidneys may still get sick in lupus, in which case the doctor will have to take over. You may get angry, depressed, and frustrated. These are all very normal feelings. Remember we’re here to help you deal with them! Call us!
For more information on keeping kidneys healthy as can be, visit the National Kidney Foundation at www.Kidney.org.