Nephrologist Dr. Dean Kujubu, renal dietitian Mika Sugano-Isa and community volunteer Iku Kiriyama speak at a forum on chronic kidney disease on March 22 at GVJCI. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)


Following the Chronic Kidney Disease Vitality Forum at the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute (GVJCI) on Sunday, March 22, organized by Keiro, I received emails from two friends who had attended. One said she would watch how much potassium she consumed. The other said she would not eat a banana every day. Neither has chronic kidney disease (CKD). I was alarmed.

I told them they are not being “proactive” by limiting fruits and vegetables in their daily diet. Rather, they are doing something dangerous on their own without their doctors’ knowledge or OK.

Trying to follow a renal diet when you have diabetes or hypertension — or none of the above — is counterproductive. Your body needs potassium. As well as the protein and phosphorous, which I mentioned I have to limit because of my failing kidneys. Sodium is about the only thing everyone should limit.

I have no idea how many others in the 160+ in attendance misunderstood the focus of the forum and think they should follow the renal diet to prevent kidney disease when there is NO medical reason.

As I have emphasized at every forum I have done since 2006, I only speak on topics that have been my personal experiences, and the professionals who appear with me speak to the general subject that can apply to anyone. I asked nephrologist Dr. Dean Kujubu to look over this article and add his comments:

“Potassium, protein, and phosphorus restriction depends on level of kidney function. Not all patients with CKD necessarily need potassium restriction. This usually is needed in more advanced CKD. If patients don’t have CKD, these restrictions don’t apply.

“I agree that sodium restriction may be wise in those with hypertension. Restricting potassium, phosphorus, and protein in an attempt to keep normal kidneys ‘healthy’ is counterproductive.”

Since diabetes and hypertension are major factors of CKD, I suggest that you should follow is Dr. Kujubu’s advice if you are diabetic or have hypertension; ask your doctor to add to the normal bloodwork, a serum creatinine and urine albumin/creatinine or urine protein/creatinine ratio. These tests will show how your kidneys are functioning.

Understand the numbers and how to interpret them. I didn’t. My nephrologist kept telling me, “This…is OK” — up to the day I was told to go to the dialysis class. Now, I know my creatinine was rising and it was NOT OK (we can look up lab results on the Kaiser website — a great tool).

A few of us are forming a CKD support group to share information. Not medical advice. However, our sessions may provide us with questions to take up with our doctors. Those of you with CKD might consider doing the same.

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