Nephrotic Syndrome Diet

If you have nephrotic syndrome, you may wonder what kind of diet you need. Nephrotic syndrome is a kidney disorder where the body discards too much protein into the urine. This can occur with any kidney disease that damages the nephrons (filtering units). Because you lose so much protein, low levels of protein in your blood can cause edema (fluid retention) or swelling, usually in the ankles or feet, hypertension, and higher than normal fat and cholesterol levels in the blood.

Changing your diet is crucial to avoiding kidney damage. Diet doesn’t cause nephrotic syndrome, but what you eat may worsen your kidney function.

You might think that because you are losing a lot of urinary protein, you need to eat a high-protein diet. No! This actually can make your kidney function worse. When you have nephrotic syndrome, low-to-moderate protein intake is recommended, depending on the condition of your kidneys. Sometimes your doctor will recommend a fluid restriction as well. Work with your doctor and a registered dietitian to determine your specific dietary needs.

A low-sodium, low-fat, low-cholesterol diet is also recommended with nephrotic syndrome. Too much salt can cause edema; and high blood pressure. High amounts of fat should be avoided as cholesterol and triglyceride levels tend to be high in patients with nephrotic syndrome. To help manage this condition, it’s important to understand what is best to eat.

Foods to eat on a nephrotic syndrome diet

Lean meats (poultry, fish, pork, lamb, veal, shellfish, egg), dried beans (azuki, lentils, mungo, navy, pinto, soy, split peas), soy products (natto, tempeh, tofu), nuts, fresh or frozen fruit (apples, blueberries, pears, pineapple, peaches, strawberries, mandarin orange, passion fruit), fresh or frozen vegetables (green beans, lettuce, bean sprouts, green onion, cucumber, cabbage, Chinese peas, asparagus, green peppers, corn, cauliflower), low-sodium canned vegetables, potatoes, rice, tortilla, low sodium bread, pasta, unsalted snacks (nuts, popcorn), low salt cottage cheese, low fat milk, heart healthy oils (olive, canola, safflower), ketchup, herbs and spices, vinegar, lemon juice, and no- or low-sodium seasoning blends.  If a recipe calls for garlic salt, substitute with fresh garlic or garlic powder.

Foods to avoid on a nephrotic syndrome diet

Cheese, high-sodium or processed meats (SPAM, Vienna sausage, bologna, ham, bacon, Portuguese sausage, hot dogs), frozen dinners, canned meats or fish, dried or canned soups, pickled vegetables, lomi salmon, salted potato chips, popcorn and nuts, salted bread.  Keep in mind that certain seasonings and condiments are high in sodium, such as MSG, Worcestershire sauce, bouillon cubes, olives, pickles, mustard, oyster sauce, patis, bagoong, and soy sauce. High-fat foods such as fried food, excess oil, mayonnaise.

If a food item has less than 140 mg of sodium per serving, it is a low-sodium food. Look for foods with 20% DV sodium or less. Remove the shoyu bottle and salt shaker from the table. Again, it’s very important to ask your doctor or renal dietitian about the amount of protein, sodium and fluid you should be consuming.

This information is meant to be used as a resource and is not meant to replace medical advice.

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