Many Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) patients are considering a vegan diet. Although a low-protein diet is beneficial for people with CKD, research suggests that there are many reasons why a traditional vegan (high-soy) diet may be problematic to CKD patients. The possible effects include renal calcification, inhibited mineral absorption and excessive levels of toxic minerals. Also, secondary nutrients found in animal products such as calcium and magnesium may have beneficial properties for renal patients.
Most individuals with CKD assume that a vegan diet is healthier and offer superior outcomes, but this may not be the case. A vegan diet may cause those with CKD to forego potentially beneficial proteins found primarily in animal sources. For long-term success, those with CKD must maintain adequate protein levels to avoid poor mineral balance which may increase muscle wasting and the risk of worsening their condition or death.
Even a typical vegetarian diet may contain substances that could potentially harm CKD patients including soy, peanuts and beans. However, Chef Nancy Berkoff, RD, EdD suggests that it has been shown that a carefully planned vegetarian diet with familiar Nephrologists and Dietitians is an adequate solution in managing CKD. In fact a 2010 study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology stated that a vegetarian diet made it easier to "eliminate potentially hazardous substance" like toxic phosphorus from CKD patients' blood and urine.
Though a vegan diet may appear beneficial to CKD patients because of limited protein, soy is the only legume that comes close to providing adequate protein. There are numerous concerns, however, about the negative effect soy consumption may cause people with CKD. For those who are seeking a healthier diet, a better balance may come from talking to your Dietitian about beginning a vegetarian regimen. Also eating small amounts of animal products (particularly grass-fed meat) may offer enhanced benefits to those with CKD when coupled with specific elements of a vegan diet.
The goal for any CKD Renal Diet should be to decrease waste byproducts built up in the body while ensuring adequate nutrition. You should obtain the appropriate amount of protein needed, reduce waste products in the blood, maintain mineral balance (sodium, phosphorus and potassium) as well as avoid excessive fluid intake to prevent overload. KidneyBuzz.com recommends that CKD patients use this provided information as a guideline not in substitution of meeting with you accredited Renal Dietitian.
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Henderson, Jenna, ND "Dietary Considerations in Chronic Kidney Disease - Natural Medicine Journal: The Official Journal of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians."Naturalmedicinejournal.com. Natural Medicine Journal.
Berkoff, Nancy, RD, EdD. "Menu Selection for Vegan Renal Patients." Vrg.org. The Vegetarian Resource Group.
"Vegetarian Diet Cuts Kidney Patients' Levels of Toxic Phosphorus." US News. U.S.News & World Report.