Earlier this year I found out that I suffer from a chronic kidney disease called IGA Nephropathy. (You’ll also see it on medical journals referred to as IgA Nephropathy or even Bergers disease.) While it’s not immediately life threatening, it’s a concerning disease that basically means my kidney function is lower, and has a lot of trouble processing protein. Therefore, I really have to keep an eye on a couple things. Number one, protein consumption. Number two, sodium. With this disease, blood pressure levels are elevated in tandem, so keeping the blood pressure at a lower rate is always a good thing to assist. Further assisting this disease stay symptom-free for a long time and in an attempt to avoid dialysis, there is an IGA Nephropathy diet plan that can be followed, and today I’ll share that with you.
I decided to blog about this today rather than the usual “weight loss nutritional plan” type entries, because this is a topic that is near and dear to me, and when I was diagnosed, I was really left in the dark about what I could eat, what I should eat, and what I need to avoid. It took two opinions at the Cleveland Clinic in Florida, a renowned place to get treatment of any sort, so based on that fact, as well as consulting with a referred nutritionist, I felt compelled to put the information out there for anyone struggling from the same disease as me.
What is IGA Nephropathy?
First, let’s touch on what this is.
IgA is a chronic kidney disease that happens when deposits of immunoglobulin (this is where the IgA comes from) start to accumulate in the kidneys.
These immunoglobulins are part of your immune system that assist the body in eliminating infections. If you have IgA nephropathy, there’s a defective version of immunoglobulin A in your body. This creates build up in the kidneys.
There are millions of people across the world who suffer from this disease. It’s a disease that lasts your entire life, but for many, the disease does not worsen and grow to anything that is serious. For many, it can lead to dialysis, and for others, a kidney transplant. With proper diet and care, the disease can be kept at bay for many years, and in a lot of cases, forever.
The treatment of the disease is often involving getting a grip on your blood pressure first, and sometimes even your cholesterol levels. Today, we’ll talk about what sort of diet can be used to also keep the disease from becoming worse over time.
How Do You Know if You Have IgA Nephropathy?
In my situation, which mirrors just about every other way this kidney disease is diagnosed, my primary doctor found elevated levels of creatinine in my yearly blood work.
After this was monitored, I saw a Nephrologist (kidney specialist) who ordered a kidney biopsy. In this biopsy, a small sample of tissue was taken from my kidney for observation. It was then determined that I had scarring on my tissue congruent with this disease. I started an IV of prednisone, a corticosteroid, and then immediately after, a high dose of the prednisone pills, among other prescription drugs. Prednisone comes with a lot of side effects, and I am in the process of setting up an entire portion of the site talking about that in specific.
The IGA Nephropathy Disease
This diet consists of low protein, and low salt foods that are also low in potassium and phosphorus. It’ll also be high in vitamins.
While I was advised to limit the protein, it’s important to keep in mind the protein discussed is low-quality protein. Protein of high quality needs to be consumed to maintain muscle, and one example of a high quality protein is chicken meat. In addition to being a high quality protein, it can also improve immunity.
When the IGA progresses over time, the kidneys lose their ability to filter out larger amounts of potassium in the blood. This is why foods high in potassium should be avoided, such as various fruits and vegetables like kiwi, citrus fruits, figs, raspberries, grapes, tomatoes, nuts, and bananas.
Of course, there are vegetables that have massive amounts of potassium, and should be consumed in limited amounts, such as broccoli, collard greens, kale, romaine, spinach, and Swiss chard.
What Foods Should I Avoid with IgA Nephropathy?
All processed foods should be avoided. In addition, keep in mind the following foods:
- Instant noodles with preservatives (bye bye, ramen noodles)
- Protein (not to be avoided, but has to be limited)
- Pickles & Sauerkraut
- Roast Beef & Mutton
- Phosphorus rich foods
- High Potassium foods (potatoes, apricots, mustard, raisins come to mind)
The IgA Diet Plan
There is a lot of conflicting information on a specific diet plan to treat IgA, but most websites and Doctors I’ve spoke with said that following the DASH DIET is one that should be a guideline.
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH, is a diet that was used to help people with high blood pressure.
It focuses on fruits and vegetables which allowing some lean proteins to be consumed. Stuff like chicken, fish, and beans. In very low amounts, you can eat red meat, as well as stuff like added sugars, salt, and fats. (Although I will say, this is hard to follow when you assume you can eat all fruits and veggies, and then look above and keep in mind what I said about watching potassium levels.)
The main thing here is that blood pressure is controlled because of the lower salt intake. On this diet, you should consume no more than 1 teaspoon of sodium daily, which is about 2,300 mg.
I’m consulting with a nutritionist at the moment who is going to keep in mind my IgA, as well as my desire to get lean. My initial concern is how do I gain muscle without having an abundance of protein in my diet? How will my testosterone production suffer being that I’ll be consuming a lesser amount of animal proteins?
My entire life, when I’ve leaned out, it’s been due to eating a lot of protein and even when I’m snacking or looking for energy, I’ve done it with low carb snacks.
I’ll be back with the specific diet plan that I’m recommended, once I get that back. Stay tuned, and please by all means leave comments and questions below.