Question: If I have kidney problems related to diabetes, what are the changes I should make in my diet?
Answer: If you have kidney damage due to your diabetes, it is important that you have a discussion with your healthcare team to determine where you are on the stages of kidney disease. That is an important determination to make, because it can have an influence on what kinds of dietary changes you may need to make. Some general principles to remember, if you have some kidney involvement from your diabetes, is that salt is something you really do want to be paying attention to. It's easy to get a lot of salt in your diet, and so that is one 'micro-nutrient,' we call it -- salt is a micro-nutrient -- that you really should consider cutting back on. There are different recommendations for the amount of salt you should have, but that is something that you should be talking to your healthcare professional about, to determine what amount is best for you.
Some other things to keep track of, or to consider, is the protein that you're taking in when you have some kidney damage. It is something to keep track of and something to consider. Most people actually consume more protein than they need. The recommendation for everybody is about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram body weight. And that may sound somewhat complicated to you, but it is, I think, a factor that you might want to experiment a little bit with and see about how much protein you're eating now. When you do have kidney disease, your kidneys do have to process that protein. So it would not be a good idea to be on a high protein, low carbohydrate intake. It just is some added strain to the kidneys. It's not that you necessarily have to cut way back on protein, but quite frankly, you may really want to be just sticking a little bit closer to what the RDA, or recommended daily allowance, for protein is.
And again, probably being aware of the kinds of protein that you're eating. You want to be picking those that are more complete proteins. Those can be found in some vegetables and breads and other things, but you need to eat a variety of foods to be sure that you're getting some complete proteins. If you're choosing to not be a big meat-eater, that you want to be sticking more to a vegetarian diet, then you would need to be sure that you're getting a good variety of foods so that you get those complete proteins. Foods like milk and cheese and dairy products, meats, are complete proteins, so you would probably want to, again, be picking those that are lower-fat dairy, lower-fat cuts of meat. Meats that end in 'loin' like 'sirloin' -- those tend to be lower-fat cuts of meat and would be better choices if you're going to be watching your protein intake. You really want to go for those complete proteins.