What’s the deal with protein and CKD?

Dive into the latest research on the effects of protein and CKD.

November 16, 2023

Note: This newsletter is meant for individuals with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). All information is for educational purposes only. 

CKD Research Digested

In this segment, our nutrition professionals digest the latest research and break it down for you.

What’s the deal with protein and CKD?

We all need to eat enough protein to maintain our muscles and keep our bodies functioning.  Protein comes from a variety of sources: animal products (meat, fish, eggs, dairy) and plants (grains, vegetables, legumes, etc). The amount of protein we need varies based on our body size, our activity level, and our health status. Individuals with CKD need to adjust their protein intake based on their lab results and other factors. Why is this? 

Our kidneys work hard in our bodies to filter out excess waste.  When protein is digested, it creates waste products, such as ammonia and creatinine, that the kidneys remove and dispose of through urination. When the filters in the kidneys (nephrons) become damaged, they cannot filter protein waste as easily as they once did. When this happens, waste products can start to build up in the blood and make us feel not quite right. These waste products will also show up on your blood work and, at that point, your doctor may tell you you have CKD. 

If we alter our protein consumption, we can lessen the risk of protein waste build up in our blood.  This will help save kidney function as excess protein stresses the kidney’s filtration system. Imagine trying to filter out a lot of coffee grounds through a sifter—the sifter may become damaged.  The desire to prevent further damage to the kidneys is why protein needs, generally, decrease with CKD. Plant-based diets are often recommended as they are lower in protein content. Next post, we will dive deeper into plant-based diets and kidney disease

Should you consider a Plant-Based Diet?  CKD diets should be individualized. 

General advice does not replace custom meal plans.

VidaEats can connect you with a dietitian to help you meet your goals and reduce kidney damage. 

Source: https://www.jrnjournal.org/article/S1051-2276(20)30082-0/fulltext#back-bib2; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5962279/ 

Alana’s Bites, this week’s quick tips.

  • High fiber swap! Try seasoned, cooked lentils in pasta sauce instead of ground beef. This swap lowers the digestible protein, increases the fiber, and provides a similar texture. Season the lentils the same as you would ground beef (easy on the salt). 
  • Sneak in a walk today to get your body moving. Try varying your walking speeds for more intensity. Exercise increases blood flow to the kidneys which helps them thrive.

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