Vegetarian Diets for Chronic Kidney Disease
World Vegetarian Day (Oct 1), Vegetarian Awareness Month throughout October, and Meatless Mondays are among some of the activities drawing more attention to vegetarian eating. What used to be a strange way of eating to the majority of Americans is now becoming popular and embraced by those seeking to improve health, save animals and protect the environment.
Benefits of vegetarian diets include:
- Lower protein intake, resulting in less kidney stress and decreased protein waste build-up
- Lower blood pressure, which reduces pressure in the kidneys
- Decreased cholesterol, especially LDL, the cholesterol that contributes to artery narrowing, including the renal arteries
- Better heart health with less risk of plaque build-up
- Lower cancer risk related to less saturated fat and eating more grains, fruits and vegetables
- Lower food costs (have you seen the price of steak or roast lately?)
If you decide to try a vegetarian eating plan but are unsure where to start, try adding meatless meals several times a week. Read articles such as The Vegetarian Diet and Chronic Kidney Disease written for DaVita.com by DaVita renal dietitian Chhaya Patel or Soy Foods: Vegetarian Options for a Kidney Diet. Check out resources such as Vegetarian Diets in Chronic Kidney Disease from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Vegetaian Practice Group.
Find recipes online, purchase a vegetarian cookbook (for quick and easy recipes try Meatless Meals for Working People ), or subscribe to a vegetarian magazine such as my favorite, Vegetarian Times. Many recipes can be modified for a kidney diet. There are a few vegetarian books specific for kidney disease such as The Vegetarian Diet for Kidney Disease by Joan Brookhyser Hogan, RD.
Many of these resources provide information on protein, potassium, phosphorus and sodium–all concerns for a kidney diet. Even for people on dialysis it is possible to incorporate meatless meals or even a vegetarian diet with guidance from your renal dietitian.
In addition to saving kidney function, you may find that a vegetarian diet also helps with your energy level– and that improves your quality of life!
Kidney diet resources from DaVita.com
- Discussion Forums
- Monthly Recipe Alerts
- DaVita Diet Helper
- Phosphorus ChallengeTM
- Food Analyzer
- DaVita Cookbooks