Renal Disease Increases Risk for Malnutrition

What’s for dinner? That’s a typical question you might ask when you get home from work. Or you might swap recipes with a friend. Or maybe you like getting out of the house and going to restaurants to find the best food for the best price.

If you have an appetite and enjoy food, you probably eat three square meals a day, snacks, and maybe even some sweet treats. But if you have renal disease, you have to pay a lot more attention to your diet. You’ll need to limit the amount of sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and protein you get from food, to protect the kidney function you have left.

Fortunately, there’s plenty of healthy, nutritious, and easy-to-prepare foods for people with renal disease. Just check out the menu of Renal-Friendly foods. Looks pretty good, right? However, a recent study found that people with renal disease are more likely to suffer from malnutrition than healthy people, especially older people over the age of 65.

In fact, it’s such a prolific and serious problem that researcher Dr. Adejumo Oluseyi recommends health professionals assess a renal disease patient’s diet early on and regularly as treatment continues.

Here’s a little exercise to see how you’re doing on a Renal-Friendly diet.

Take a minute to write down everything you ate and drank yesterday: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

If you’re not tracking your diet, you should in a notebook or with a mobile app like the food tracker on How did you do? Are you eating healthy meals and snacks throughout the day? Or are you skipping meals? If you’re not getting enough food, here’s what you need to know:

You may not be getting enough food when you have renal disease, because of:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dietary restrictions

But if you don’t pay close attention to your diet and eat the right foods, researchers found that those with renal disease are more likely to experience:

  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Sleep disorders
  • Depression
  • Infections
  • Heart failure
  • Total kidney failure
  • Early death

If you think you’re suffering from malnutrition, work on improving your diet. If you don’t feel better after a week or so, talk to your doctor or nutritionist for help. Your health depends on it.