Polycystic kidney disease, or PKD, is one of the most common inherited diseases, affecting up to 1 in 400 births, or 600,000 people in the United States. About one-half of PKD patients will end up with kidney failure, but dietary changes can help improve the overall health of most people with this disorder, possibly preventing further deterioration.
Things You Should Eat
Eat a mostly low-fat diet full of fruits and vegetables, which are high in helpful antioxidants. Plant proteins also help lower blood pressure and may help slow the growth of kidney cysts. As published in volume 57 of Kidney International in 2000, studies in lab animals show that soy protein slows the progression of PKD, but try to stick with traditional fermented soy products like tofu, miso, and tempeh.
You should also get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids from sources like cold-water oily fish (salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines), flaxseed or linseed, and walnuts and pecans. Some studies with rats indicate that omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseed oil in particular, help reduce inflammation and slow the progression of PKD (Kidney International, 1999, volume 55).
Try to eat a lot of high-fiber foods that can combat insulin resistance — high insulin levels have been linked with heart disease and faster rates of PKD progression. Good sources of fiber, in addition to fruit and vegetables, are whole grains and legumes.
Unlike other forms of kidney disease, PKD requires higher levels of potassium, so load up on foods like papaya, prune juice, honeydew and cantaloupe melon, banana, raisins, mango, pears and oranges and orange juice.
Foods to Avoid
Reduce or eliminate animal proteins. Limit animal products to occasional broths, poultry, fish, low-fat cheese and egg whites, keeping quantities to 3 oz. per day or less.
Avoid excess amounts of salt, which causes your blood pressure to rise. This includes products like processed foods, soups, chips and soy sauce.
PKD patients should drink lots of water since water helps flush out waste products and helps you avoid dehydration, a common symptom of PKD. Avoid caffeine — which causes dehydration — found in coffee, chocolate, black tea, green tea, white tea, cola and even some decaf products.
Although moderate alcohol intake can be OK in healthier patients, drinks should be limited to two per day for men and one per day for women. Instead, try spritzers made with cranberry, apple or grape juice mixed with mineral water or sodium-free seltzer.