* Winner of the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Health Title
In the United States alone, 26 million adults have chronic kidney disease (CKD), and experts project that over half the country may develop CKD due to rising rates of disorders such as diabetes. While nephrologists can monitor kidney function and treat patients with medications, they can’t always offer the nutritional guidance that every kidney patient requires. To fill this information gap, Dr. Mandip Kang has written The Doctor’s Kidney Diets, a comprehensive guide to managing, slowing down, and even stopping the progression of CKD through diet.
The book is divided into two parts. Part One provides a clear overview of kidney function, kidney disease, and the role that nutrition plays in the treatment of kidney problems. The doctor then reviews the special dietary considerations of individuals with CKD, including the need to limit certain nutrients, fluids, and other dietary components. Because different patients have different nutritional requirements, the doctor discusses the most commonly prescribed CKD diets—the DASH diet, heart disease and diabetes diets, diets for dialysis, and more—and concludes with important tips for enhancing overall health and maximizing treatment success. Then Part Two offers a wide variety of recipes for dishes that follow the dietary guidelines highlighted in Part One.
Smart nutrition is essential to the treatment of kidney disease. With The Doctor’s Kidney Diets, you can become an active, effective participant in your own treatment plan.
In the United States today, it has been estimated that 26 million adults have chronic kidney disease, and millions of others are at increased risk due to rising rates of the two most common causes of CKD—hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes. It is not surprising, then, that kidney disease has been classified as an epidemic. While people diagnosed with CKD need to know that it is considered a lifelong condition, they also need to know that this disorder is absolutely manageable. Underlying causes can be addressed, and a healthier lifestyle can be adopted with an eye toward slowing the progression of the disease. My years as a nephrologist (kidney doctor) have shown me that, whether you’re treating CKD alone or juggling the management of several health conditions, diet is a significant part of your treatment plan. By following the diet that meets your needs, you can keep your body’s fluid and chemical levels in better balance, improving the chance of stabilizing your kidney function and enhancing your overall health. That is why I wrote The Doctor’s Kidney Diets—to guide you in understanding and following a kidney-friendly eating plan so that you can enjoy the greatest health possible.
When someone is diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, kidney specialists and nutritionists emphasize the importance of diet to prevent the worsening of the disease, and to avoid the symptoms and complications that can develop due to this lifelong problem. Too often, though, patients find the information given to them inadequate or confusing, especially when several different disorders are involved, each with its own dietary limitations. The purpose of this book is to fill that information gap and empower you to improve your health through the foods you eat and the lifestyle changes you make. The facts and recommendations found in this book have been culled from scientific studies, from the expertise of a panel of nutritionists, and—perhaps most important—from years spent treating thousands of people with kidney disease.
Part One of this book focuses on the kidneys—both their function and their dysfunction—and on the importance of diet in the treatment of CKD. It lays the groundwork of information you need to manage chronic kidney disease.
Chapter 1 reviews the vital tasks performed by the kidneys. This information is important because the goal of CKD treatment includes—although it is not limited to—compensating for the tasks that your kidneys can no longer perform. Understanding kidney function is basic to understanding the management of kidney disease.
Once you’ve learned about the work performed by the kidneys, you’ll be ready to learn what happens when the kidneys are less able to do their job. Chapter 2 focuses on the nature, causes, and stages of chronic kidney disease. It also introduces you to your essential role as a member of your own healthcare team.
In Chapter 3, the spotlight is on nutrition. Which nutrients may have to be limited in your diet, and why? Which foods can cause further kidney damage, and which can actually help you safeguard kidney function? Chapter 3 lays out the facts and also explores important topics such as using vitamin-minerals supplements, choosing healthy beverages, dining out, and more.
Many people think that there is only one “renal diet”—one eating plan that is right for everyone with CKD. The truth is that, depending on the stage of CKD, any concurrent medical conditions, and other factors, your doctor may recommend one of several diets, or may combine two or more diets to meet your special needs. Chapter 4 not only explains the diets that are most commonly prescribed for people with CKD, but also provides valuable tips for successfully using each plan to manage your health.
Dietary changes are of crucial importance to everyone with CKD, but beyond diet, there is much you can do to manage your CKD. Chapter 5 focuses on the many healthy lifestyle changes you can make, from getting regular exercise to limiting the use of alcohol and caffeine. Some of these changes may be easy to implement, and some may prove more challenging, but all can make a positive difference in the way you feel on a daily basis as well as in your long-term health.
Although it’s important to understand the “whys” of making smart food choices, I know that dietary principles alone won’t help you feel better. You need to put those principles into practice by making and enjoying kidney-friendly dishes. That’s why Part Two of The Doctor’s Kidney Diets offers over fifty dietitian-created recipes designed specifically for people with CKD. From breakfasts to desserts, from side dishes to snacks, these dishes are not only easy to follow but also easy to love. Each one starts by listing the specific diets with which they are a good match and ends by listing Nutritional Facts, including calories, protein, carbohydrates, fiber, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium. You’ll even find the Diabetic Exchanges per portion. This takes the guesswork out of finding appealing dishes that match your dietary needs and restrictions. Keep in mind, though, that all dietary decisions should be made under the guidance of your healthcare team. I urge you to share these recipes with your doctor and dietitian so that you can determine together how the dishes can be incorporated into your menu plan.
I’ve tried to make the information in this book easy to understand and to keep my use of medical terminology to a minimum. But some special terms are necessary to explain kidney function, kidney disease, and nutrition. With this in mind, I’ve created a Glossary (page 171) that explains the terms used in this book as well as the terms you’re likely to hear when working with your healthcare team. Turn to it whenever you want to double-check the meaning of a health-related word or phrase.
Throughout this book, I emphasize the importance of understanding your condition and its treatment. My experience has been that knowledge and active involvement in your healthcare plan are the keys to a good outcome. This book provides a great start, but you’ll want to keep adding to your knowledge. That’s why I have compiled a comprehensive Resources list (see page 183), which guides you to solid sources of information on kidney-friendly diets, specific foods and nutrients, laboratory tests, and other aspects of CKD treatment, as well as treatment for related conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. The websites and organizations listed in the Resources section can provide you with the information you need to begin the successful management of your condition and to face any new challenges you may encounter along the way.
In my practice, I have seen my patients reap the benefits of dietary and lifestyle changes—as well as patient education regarding the disease process—and these benefits have often been significant. In many individuals, kidney function has stabilized; in others, the time from diagnosis to dialysis has been greatly prolonged. It is my hope that, armed with The Doctor’s Kidney Diets, you will be able to enhance your long-term health and manage, slow, or even halt the course of chronic kidney disease.