Patient education: Low-potassium diet (The Basics)
What is potassium?
Potassium is a mineral that is found in almost all foods. Everybody needs potassium to work normally and energetically. It maintains the heart beating and keeps the nerves and muscles working properly. But people need only a limited amount of potassium. Too much or little potassium in the body can create problems.
The presence of too much potassium in the blood is called “hyperkalemia.” This can create problems with heart rhythm and muscle weakness.
When is potassium too low or too high?
Potassium comes from the foods which we have in meals or courses. Healthy kidneys eliminate excess potassium in the urine to aid control of normal blood levels.
Because most fruits contain high potassium, low potassium is difficult in people who have a healthy diet.
Some of the outcomes of low potassium involve muscle weakness, cramping, as well as fatigue.
When kidneys lose they can no longer eliminate excess potassium, so the level grows up in the body. High potassium in the blood is identified as hyperkalemia, which may happen in people including advanced degrees of chronic kidney disease. Usually high potassium is silent with no symptoms. Few impacts of high potassium are nausea, weakness, anesthesia, and slow pulse rate.
For people with advanced CKD, dialysis is required to aid control potassium in emergency cases. With dialysis treatment potassium decreases suddenly, but potassium levels increase, so nephrologists have to find out factors of high potassium like high-potassium foods must be restrained.
Who might require being on a low-potassium diet?
In chronic kidney disease patients mostly want to be on a low-potassium diet to prevent hyperkalemia.
The most frequent etiology of hyperkalemia is:
- 1. Certain medicines– Some medicines contain certain ones for high blood pressure and heart problems which may increase the level of potassium in the body. Examples: Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, aldosterone receptor blockers, Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs).
- Kidney disease: the kidneys filter the blood and erase much salt and water through urination. They maintain the level of potassium in the blood normal. When the kidneys don’t work properly or stop working, they can’t get rid of the potassium in the urine. Then, too much potassium is made up in the blood.
Many people who get a treatment called “dialysis” for kidney disease need to be on a low-potassium diet. Dialysis is a treatment that takes over the job of the kidneys.
What does consuming a low-potassium diet include?
Almost all foods contain potassium. So the key is to:
- Select foods with low levels of potassium
- Leave or eat only small amounts of foods with high levels of potassium
Your nephrologist will perhaps suggest that you work with a dietitian (food expert) to help in making a strategy for your meals. He or she will tell you how much potassium you should eat every day.
To figure out how much potassium you are eating, you will need to look at the food’s nutrition label. You will need to look at them:
1.” Potassium” amount – It says you how much potassium is in 1 course of the food. If you eat 1 meal, then you are eating this quantity of potassium.
2.”Serving size” – It tells you how much a portion is. If you eat 2 courses, then you are having 2 times the quantity of potassium listed.
What are other ways to cut down on potassium?
Here are some different ways to cut down on potassium:
- Evacuate the liquid from canned fruits, vegetables, or meats before eating.
- If you eat foods that have a lot of potassium, eat only little portions only if your potassium is low or normal. if already high then not to take high potassium food items.
- Lessen the amount of potassium in the vegetables you eat. You can do this with both of them i.e. frozen and raw vegetables. (If all the vegetables are fresh and raw, then peel and cut them up first.) To reduce the amount of potassium, soak the vegetables in hot unsalted water for at least 2 hours. Then drain the water and rinse the vegetables in hot water. If you make the vegetables, prepare it without salted water.
Some foods that is low in potassium:
- Fruits: apple juice, apples, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, peaches, pears, pineapples, plums, strawberries, and watermelon. But if high potassium levels then better to avoid most.
- vegetables: asparagus, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, corn, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, green peas, green peppers (capsicum), kale, lettuce, okra (ladies’ fingers), onions, radish, water chestnuts, wax beans, yellow squash, zucchini, and spinach.
- Proteins: almonds, cashews, chicken, eggs, flaxseed, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, turkey and walnuts.
Some foods that is high in potassium:
- fruits: avocado, bananas, coconut, cantaloupe, and honeydew melons, dates, dried fruits, figs, kiwi, mango, oranges and orange juice, and raisins.
- Vegetables: arctic, baked beans, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, olives, potatoes, pickles, pumpkins, and tomatoes and tomato juice.
- proteins: black beans, clams, ground beef, kidney beans, lobster, navy beans, salmon, steak and white fish
- other: chocolate, dairy products, granola, milk, peanut butter, soups that are salt-free or low sodium, soy milk, sports drink, yogurt, whole grain bread, and tomato sauce.