If you have kidney disease, you need to keep track of mineral levels in your body in ways that people without the disease rarely need to consider. A primary example of this is potassium. This mineral’s levels are usually controlled by healthy kidneys. But when your kidneys aren’t functioning properly, this can change. And with high potassium levels, there could be drastic consequences unless you start controlling potassium levels yourself.
One main role of potassium in the body is to keep the heart and muscles functioning properly. It helps the heart maintain a regular, reliable beat, so this organ can be adversely affected if potassium levels go too high or too low. Too high, for example, and you could suffer a heart attack. You could also experience numbness or tingling.
If you realize that your potassium levels are going too high, one way to address the problem is with diet. You can consult a dietician who specializes in renal patients, and get a lot of input and advice. But you can also help yourself by choosing your foods carefully. While almost all foods have some amount of potassium in them, here are a few guidelines for limiting your intake of the mineral as much as possible.
It helps if you eat moderately. Conservative portions will help both the potassium intake and weight, which can cause other kidney-related problems. But any liquid in which foods have been canned, or which they have produced while cooking, should be avoided. This is because of leaching, a process where liquid pulls potassium out of a food. You can even leach potassium yourself by rinsing foods with warm water, then soaking in water for a couple of hours before cooking.
Your dietician will give you lists of high-potassium versus low-potassium foods. But here are a few common high-potassium foods:
- Apricots, oranges, bananas, melons, dates, raisins, and dried fruits
- Broccoli, avocados, brussels sprouts, raw carrots, spinach, vegetable juices
- Tomatoes and tomato products
- Nuts and seeds
- Milk and yogurt
Lower-potassium foods include:
- Most berries
- Cucumber, lettuce, onions, green beans, peppers, zucchini, small portions of asparagus, corn, and celery
- Apples, grapes, cherries, and small portions of peaches, watermelon, pears, and plums
- Rice, noodles, pasta, and bread (not whole grain)
- Only one cup of coffee or two cups of tea per day
Choosing the right foods, cooking properly, and watching portions can go a long way to helping control your potassium levels through diet.