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Diet for a Person With Thin Basement Membrane Syndrome

By Sharon Perkins

Although thin basement membrane disease sounds like something that would affect the lower levels of your house, it's actually an often-inherited disorder that affects the kidneys. This disorder, also called benign familial hematuria, affects between 5 and 9 percent of Americans, according to the Merck Manual. In most cases, no treatment is necessary, although you may develop high blood pressure or, in rare instances, kidney failure. If you have a severe strain of the disease, following a kidney-friendly diet may help avoid complications.

Normal Dietary Restrictions

If you have this disorder, the glomerular basement membrane, one of the tissue layers in your kidney, ranges from 150 to 225 nanometers instead of a normal 300 to 400 nanometers, according to the Merck Manual. Normally, this does not cause any significant kidney problems. If you have no symptoms of thin basement membrane disease -- and most people don't -- beyond minute amounts of blood or protein in your urine, you do not need to follow any dietary restrictions.

Watching Sodium Intake

The American Heart Association suggests that everyone limit his sodium intake to no more than 2,300 milligram per day, especially people with an increased risk of developing high blood pressure. If you develop hypertension, the medical term for high blood pressure, as a complication of this disease, you may need to limit your sodium intake to less than the recommended dose of 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day and your doctor may prescribe a 1,500 milligram per day diet. Excess sodium intake can raise your blood pressure. Work with a dietitian to determine exactly what you can and can't eat, but limit processed foods, which often contain large amounts of sodium, and don't add extra salt while cooking or at the table.

Kidney Failure Diet

If your disease progresses, you may need to limit phosphorus, protein and possibly potassium, if your potassium levels are high. Dairy products and meats, especially processed meat, contain large amounts of protein and phosphorus. Many vegetables, including potatoes, greens, including spinach, Brussels sprouts and winter squash are high in phosphorus or potassium or both. It's important not to institute dietary changes unless your doctor recommends them and to stay within the limits he prescribes. Working with a dietitian helps you plan a diet that stays within your limits but that still tastes good and encourages you to eat.


Some serious kidney diseases, such as Alport syndrome, start with the same symptoms as thin basement membrane disease. Distinguishing between the two may require a kidney biopsy or more specialized testing. Hearing and vision loss may occur if you have Alport syndrome, which normally affects males more than females. Notify your doctor if you develop hearing or vision loss, since these symptoms may indicate a more serious disorder that requires more stringent dietary restrictions.

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