Protein is a very important component of human cells, used in the making of nails and hair and in the repair of the human body. It is also a critical component in muscle growth as well. But individuals with a condition like chronic kidney disease (CKD) will be advised by their doctor to maintain a very low protein diet.
A 2018 study showed very low protein intake might be able to slow advanced kidney failure. The kidneys are the body’s filters of the bloodstream, removing waste and toxins from the blood and allowing the body to expel them through urine. When the kidneys are unable to do this for a long period of time, the person has chronic kidney disease. The wastes and toxins build up in the bloodstream and can begin to damage and destroy other organs as well as cause a person to develop diabetes.
In order to put less stress on the already damaged kidneys, doctors will normally recommend a low protein diet. When protein is consumed, a compound called urea is created. Just like everything else filtered by the kidneys, this cannot be filtered out by damaged kidneys and will contribute to the damage as it builds up in the person.
Symptoms of urea build up include fatigue and a loss of appetite. Additionally, the National Kidney Foundation has said limiting protein intake can extend the amount of time before a person must undergo dialysis treatment. But, they also warn, those who already receive dialysis should not utilize a very low protein diet.
Doctors do not normally recommend a low-protein diet unless their patient has certain health conditions like CKD. Recklessly engaging in such a diet can cause serious nutritional problems and other health issues as protein is a critical part of the human body’s cell structure. A person must carefully plan out this diet. All experts recommend a patient should speak to their doctor before making any medical decisions.
Working with your doctor, however, you can develop a low protein diet even if you do not have any medical conditions. Because if done correctly, a person can gain many benefits. General benefits of such a diet may include a lower risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. When this diet is mixed with high carbohydrates, it may be possible to protect the brain’s health and reduce cognitive decline.
Additionally, it may have some benefits, improving heart function and digestion. But, researchers are still only in the early stages and have not drawn any definite conclusions. Generally, the best way to maintain a low protein diet is to replace some meat with vegetables and grains.
Still, a person should have a supplementary source of protein. All fruits, except for dried fruits are low in protein as are all vegetables except peas, beans and corn. There are other foods available which can be incorporated, though they should be used in moderation.
- Candies (which do not have gelatin)
- Coffee (without dairy milk)
Foods with moderate amounts of protein include bread, crackers, pasta, oats
and rice. If committing to a low-protein diet, there are several foods to avoid. These include meat, poultry, fish and shellfish, eggs, soy foods like tofu and tempeh, nuts and dairy.
Again, researchers do not have many definitive facts on a low-protein diet for those who do not have medical issues. It is important for you to speak to your doctor first if you wish to commit to such a diet. For more CKD diet tips, check out our YouTube page.