Nephrotic Syndrome – Diet Recommendations and Restrictions


Nephrotic Syndrome is a urological condition wherein the normal intended filtering activity of the kidneys doesn’t take place. Nephrotic Syndrome of kidneys allows protein which is normally kept in plasma to leak into the urine in large amounts, which in turn reduces the protein level in the blood.

Glomeruli are tiny blood vessels in the kidneys that remove wastes and excess fluids from the blood and sends them to the bladder as urine. When blood passes through kidneys, the Glomeruli filter out waste products and allows the blood to retain the necessary good proteins required by the body. However, when Glomeruli is found damaged, protein, such as albumin, present in the blood can get lost through the urine.

Albumin, ideally in a healthy person, draws the extra fluid from the body into the bloodstream where it remains until filtered out by the kidneys. With the damage to Glomeruli, albumin leaks into the urine and the blood loses its capacity to further absorb extra fluid from the body causing edema.

Causes for Nephrotic Syndrome

The primary cause for nephrotic syndrome is due to scar tissue formation in parts of Glomeruli. Some of the other secondary causes could be prevailing disease conditions, such as diabetes or lupus.

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Symptoms of Nephrotic Syndrome

  1. Swelling usually in the feet, legs, ankles, and around the eyes.
  2. Foamy Urine
  3. Weight Gain
  4. A loss of appetite

 

Diagnosis of Nephrotic Syndrome

A patient approaching a trained medical practitioner with the above symptoms will be suggested to undergo a urine test and blood check simultaneously. The urine test can reveal the amount of protein level (like albumin). A blood test can help in determining how well the kidneys are working and whether the body is suffering from other systemic diseases, such as diabetes, which can cause nephrotic syndrome.

 

Treatment for Nephrotic Syndrome

Treatment for nephrotic syndrome usually tries to address issues such as edema, reducing high blood pressure if any, control of cholesterol, and minimize the risk of infection. Usually, medications are prescribed as the first-hand recovery, but a change in diet can help in the effective functioning of the kidney by reducing the load on them.  Let’s have a look at dos and don’ts of the diet which we need to follow.

(i) Reduce Sodium Intake: The body retains a lot of fluid in nephrotic conditions. If your intake of sodium through the common salt, salty food items, etc. is more, owing to the increased fluid-retaining tendency, the accumulation of minerals inside the kidney will also be more. This can further result in the swelling of the body parts. Hence, control the amount of salt to the minimum during the preparation of various dishes.

(ii) Optimize the Protein: A general false notion is that since there is a loss of protein through the urine in nephrotic patients, a high intake of protein-rich foods is essential to compensate for the loss. This is not completely true. A high-protein diet may impair the smooth functioning of the kidneys. We need to understand that the kidney is already affected and we should not overdo things. A diet that is moderate on protein only to minimize the losses of protein should be suggested. Try consuming lean meat, eggs, beans, fish, shellfish, etc. as a part of your routine diet.

(iii) Control Fat: The patients suffering from nephrotic symptoms have a common tendency to have high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in their blood. The amount of cholesterol and triglycerides can be kept in check if we avoid food rich in fat content. Try to use lean meat, fish, coconut oils, sunflower oil, and olive oil for cooking purposes. Try avoiding processed food and fast food (like deep-fried) which is rich in fat content.

(iv) Eat Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: Fresh fruits, such as apple, bananas, oranges, etc., and vegetables, such as beans, tomatoes, etc., should form a good portion of your daily diet.

(v) Maintain Potassium and Phosphorus: Try consuming food items that are rich in Potassium and Phosphorus. Whole wheat cereals, seafood, sunflower oil, nuts, beans, etc. should be taken in regular proportions to maintain the required amount of potassium and phosphorus in the body.

(vi) Avoid these food items: Food items, such as processed and canned meat, salted bread, salted potato, pickles, mustard seeds, mustard oil, soya sauce, pizza, aerated drink, candies, and pastries high in sugar, should be avoided completely if you are suffering from nephrotic syndrome.

The patients suffering from kidney-related issues, such as nephrotic syndrome, should also understand that diet control cannot cause complete recovery from this disease condition. It can only help in the effective and optimum functioning of the kidney. A systematic medication suggested by an expert medical practitioner can help in subsiding the symptoms and gradual improvement in the functioning of the kidney.

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