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Diets for Kidneys That Are Leaking Protein

by
author image Shelly Morgan
Shelly Morgan has been writing and editing for over 25 years for various medical and scientific publications. Although she began her professional career in pharmacological research, Morgan turned to patent law where she specialized in prosecuting patents for medical devices. She also writes about renal disease and hypertension for several nonprofits aimed at educating and supporting kidney patients.
Diets for Kidneys That Are Leaking Protein
Low protein diets are counterproductive for many kidney patients so be sure to check with your doctor first. Photo Credit senior doctor 10 image by Paul Moore from Fotolia.com

High urine protein, also called proteinuria, is a red flag for chronic kidney disease. Often this goes on for years, until picked up during a routine physical or life insurance exam. In some instances, it can be controlled by diet. However, before you swear off meat and high protein foods, consult your nephrologist to see if dietary changes are really needed.

Healthy Kidneys

The glomeruli, or filters of healthy kidneys, clean over 200 gallons of blood a day. Waste products from muscular activity, such as creatinine and urea, are removed from the blood and filtered into the urine. Proteins, however, remain in the blood. Inflamed kidneys are less able to perform this function. For reasons that remain unclear, proteins pass through the inflamed glomeruli into the urine.

Protein Restriction

Nephrologists try to control severe proteinuria because it can damage the kidneys independently from any underlying disease and accelerate the progression of kidney disease. Most people consume far more protein than they actually need. The National Kidney Foundation guidelines suggest that patients with stage 1 through stage 4 kidney disease limit their daily protein intake to 0.8 g per kilogram body weight. This is identical to the protein requirement set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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Recommended Protein Intake

The National Kidney Foundation guideline means that a 120 lb. person should consume 44 g of protein per day. A 140 lb. person should consume 51 g of protein per day. A 160 lb. person needs 58 g of protein. Protein can easily creep into your diet without you being aware of it. For example, two slices of wheat bread have 5.46 g of protein.

Warning

Nephrologists do not recommend low protein diets for everyone. For example, they are never recommended for children, patients on hemodialysis or patients approaching transplant. Moreover, newly diagnosed patients are often so enthusiastic about dietary changes, they often take matters to extremes and do not get enough protein. Before embarking on a low-protein diet, consult your nephrologist about how much protein you should consume.

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