Nutrition is essential to good kidney health. This pair of fist-sized organs play a tremendously important role in regulating the body’s balance of salts and minerals, such as phosphorus, sodium, potassium, and calcium. If any of these compounds aren’t filtered correctly, the buildup of waste in your blood can make you feel sick and lead to serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, anemia, weak bones, and nerve damage.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD), which refers to gradual and irreversible damage to the kidneys over time, affects 1 in 7 adults in the U.S. Even worse, 9 in 10 have it and don’t even know it. CKD occurs in stages of progressing severity until the body eventually requires some form of external dialysis (i.e., blood filtering) to function.
The role of the kidneys
As a kind of filtering organ, the kidneys regularly process blood containing nutrients found in food. An overabundance of certain compounds (such as fats, proteins, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and toxins) can stress the kidneys, causing them to work harder to the point of damaging themselves.
There is no cure for chronic kidney disease, but it can be treated to prevent the condition from worsening with early detection. Treating and managing chronic kidney disease does require you to follow a special diet, with specific requirements on your daily intake of protein, potassium, phosphorus, and sodium.
However, maintaining that diet can be difficult, especially in the age of COVID. People living with CKD often have suppressed immune systems, making them more likely to get sick and experience more severe symptoms. Getting the right nutrition when you have to contend with social distancing and other pandemic challenges means people don’t always get the food they need to properly support kidney health.
Supporting kidney health with home-delivered meals
In cases like these, medically-tailored home-delivered meals make it much easier to adhere to dietary guidelines for CKD. They have been clinically proven to support improvements to various aspects of CKD and its symptoms.
For example, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign wanted to know what effect 4 weeks of low-sodium, home-delivered meals would have on patients undergoing hemodialysis for kidney failure. After their pilot program, results showed a significant reduction in interdialytic weight gain among volunteers when compared to the usual dietary habits of HD patients. Other improvements included a reduction in dietary sodium, thirst, dry mouth (xerostomia) scores, and volume overload, blood pressure, and serum phosphorus.
“We are very excited about the positive results from this pilot study but realize more work is needed,” said Dr. Kenneth Wilund, one of the study’s authors. “Our next step is to conduct a larger, longer randomized clinical trial that examines whether a short-term meal delivery protocol promotes sustained/long-term changes in dietary behavior.”
Here, we can see how a home-delivered solution might be particularly beneficial. Having meals that fit the dietary guidelines for CKD automatically delivered to your home means less time in crowded, high-traffic places like grocery stores, restaurants, or public transit where the infection is more likely, and more time in the comfort of your own home doing the things you enjoy with the people you love.
Many individuals may also be eligible for free meals through their health insurance plan (especially Medicaid or Medicare Advantage) or community organizations that receive federal funding for community nutrition programs. However, it can be hard to find a program that supports the unique dietary needs of those living with kidney disease.
Mom’s Meals can help
Mom’s Meals offers renal-friendly menu options, available for delivery to any address nationwide. Designed by registered dietitians and prepared by executive chefs, our meals are made with a focus on nutrition, quality, and flavor. Place your order today.
Resources for you
Nutrition plays an essential role in one’s overall health and well-being. Get the white paper to find out how maintaining a nutritious diet has been shown to help prevent and slow the progression of kidney disease, as well as other chronic conditions that can affect your renal health.