Whole-Grain Bread & Kidney Failure

By Rachel Nall

Your kidneys are two of the body’s major filtration systems, separating minerals like sodium, potassium, calcium and phosphorous from your body for release in your urine. When you experience kidney failure, however, these organs are no longer able to remove these minerals as effectively. Depending upon the stage of kidney failure, your physician may recommend dietary changes, which may include reducing the amount of whole grains you eat.

Phosphorus and Kidney Failure

If you have kidney disease, your physician may recommend limiting your phosphorus intake to between 800 and 1,000 mg per day. However, most people take in double that amount of phosphorus in a day -- between 1,600 and 2,000 mg. Whole grain bread is a high-phosphorus food. Your physician may recommend avoiding all whole-grain foods or limiting them to smaller portion sizes like a 1/2 slice of bread.

Alternate Choices

If you must avoid whole-grain bread in your diet, you may wish to explore other dietary options. Low-phosphorus grain alternatives include white breads, bagels, dinner rolls, English muffins and croissants. While many fad diets advocate avoiding refined grains or carbohydrate diets, you need carbohydrates when you have kidney failure. Carbohydrates are an energy source and will keep you from feeling exhausted.

Kidney Failure and Diabetes

When you have diabetes and kidney failure, maintaining a balanced diet is important, particularly when it comes to eating carbohydrate sources. If you had diabetes prior to your kidney failure, your physician likely advised eating whole-grain carbohydrate sources because they were less likely to cause blood sugar swings than refined grain sources. As you transition to a diet for kidney failure and diabetes, talk to your physician about how eating refined grains may require a change in insulin dosages and how you eat.

Staying Healthy

As you change your diet, your physician may recommend keeping a food journal to record how you feel when eating certain foods. Also, observe any changes in your weight as these can affect the medications you take and what you eat. If your energy levels begin to sag, your physician may adjust the amount of carbohydrates, including grains, you eat each day.

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