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Published on October 9th, 2020 | by Michaelw

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The Best Carbohydrates to Repair Your Kidneys

Hello everyone, my name is Katherine and this is 00kidney!
Welcome to our journey together to a better kidney health!
Today’s video is going to be really interesting if you have kidney problems or if you have diabetes.
Now, you may already know that following the right diet is the key to repair your kidneys.
And, among the 3 macro nutrients, the 3 most important pieces of your diet, Carbohydrates are those surrounded by the biggest misconceptions and misinformation.
Some people think that only pasta and bread are carbs…

and others think that all sources of carbs are unhealthy or will make your insulin spike. Nothing more false and DANGEROUS!
The good news: today I’ll tell you everything you need to know to stop believing in misinformation and start leveraging the carbs in your diet to repair your kidneys.

So, let’s start immediately:
Question, Are carbs good or bad for your kidneys?

Watch on Youtube

Carbohydrates or “carbs” get a lot of attention these days and it’s no secret that carbs can affect your blood sugars levels.
So, you might be wondering if you should eat less of them, or even eat them at all.
Let’s clarify immediately that Carbohydrates are essential for a healthy diet. Even if you have diabetes.
There are just three major nutrients found in foods, carbohydrate, protein and fat.
And your body needs all of them in the right amount.
Because, while the body uses protein for creating and repairing tissue and fat for slow energy,
carbohydrate provides the only fuel source for many vital organs, including the brain, central nervous system and kidneys.
So, let’s dig into the types of foods that have carbs-and how to choose the nutrient-dense foods our kidneys need.
what foods contain carbohydrates?

Let’s take a look at this slide. Most common sources of carbs are bread, pasta, rice but also legumes, all fruits, some veggies and snacks. All these foods contain large amounts of calories coming from carbs.
Some of these are healthy and some aren’t. More about this in the next part of the video.
On this part of the slide we can see foods that ARE NOT carbs, such as meat, fish, sauces, eggs, oil, and some veggies.
Ok, this is a bit oversimplified, because many foods contain at least some carbs, like cheese, and also many veggies are rich in fiber, which is technically a carbohydrate, but not a digestible one.
So, ultimately, you may consider all these foods as carbs and all these foods not carbs.
This is important for making meal planning easier.
Also, you may notice, looking at this slide, that some carbs are healthy and some carbs are unhealthy, right?
Why is this?

Well, this happens because there are 3 types of carbohydrates.
First there’s sugar. This carbohydrate is quickly converted into energy. And this is a problem, not just for people with diabetes.

Sodas, cookies, juices… all sources of sugar.
Having too much sugar in your diet means insulin spikes, weight gains and increased risk for various health problems.
You may have heard added sugars referred to by other names-or seen one of these listed in the ingredients in a food label.
Dextrose, table sugar, beet sugar, honey, corn syrup, and agave are just some of the many names for added sugars.
You can find the amount of both added and naturally occurring sugars listed in the nutrition facts label.
This is important because natural sugars are very different from added sugars.
Fruits contain natural sugar, fructose, which is not unhealthy for you.
Also, fruits are rich in another type of carbohydrate with many health benefits:

Fiber
Fiber is a special carbohydrate: it’s not going to be digested at all, so it doesn’t have calories.
Fiber comes from plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables and whole intact grains.
Fiber won’t give energy to your body, but instead it has several health benefits.
It acts like your body’s natural scrub brush-it passes through your digestive tract, carrying a lot of bad stuff out with it.
It can slow down the digestion of other carbs, making them healthier, but also
High fiber consumption is associated with better gastrointestinal health and a reduced risk of heart attacks, strokes, high cholesterol, obesity, type 2 diabetes, even some cancers.
Yes, Fiber, is the closest thing we have to a true super-nutrient. It’s maybe the healthiest part of many different foods.
Now, the main thing worth knowing about fiber is that a lot of people don’t eat enough of it.
Some good habits to eat more fiber include adding veggies to all your meals, but also avoiding to peel fruits and veggies, when possible and Making at least half of your grain servings whole grains.
Now, the third type of carbohydrate, the one most of your calories should come from is

Starch
Starches are the most commonly consumed type of carb, the most important source of energy for many people.
Foods such as: Bread, pasta, rice but also cereal grains and root vegetables are all sources of starch.
Now, starch is a type of carbohydrate that takes longer to be digested than sugar and that’s therefore healthier.
This unfortunately doesn’t completely apply to refined grains.
Basically, these grains are processed to remove the outer layers and most nutritious parts of the grain, meaning that we’re missing out on all the beneficial fiber, vitamins and minerals that the whole grain would typically provide.
And this also means that processed foods rich in refined grains are going to be digested faster, possibly causing a spike in insulin levels similar to what you would get with sugar.
This is why you should prefer whole grains to refined grains.
So, try to target whole, minimally processed carbohydrate foods.

This brings us to the next question:
What are Good carbs and what are bad carbs.

Looking at this slide, we may get an idea of what sources of carbohydrates we should prefer.
Now, what about vegetables?
A lot of vegetables are healthy for people with kidney disease.
They should be an important part of your diet.
What you should avoid are veggies too rich in potassium such as spinach, potatoes, black beans, pumpkins, artichokes and more.
Also, avoid unhealthy cooking methods such as deep frying, because that’s the easiest way to turn a healthy carb into an unhealthy one.
And what about canned vegetables? Are they healthy?
Despite their reputation, canned vegetables can be healthy, if you don’t eat them too often:
Canned foods are often thought to be less nutritious than fresh or frozen foods, but research shows that this is not always true.
In fact, canning preserves most of a food’s nutrients.
Most minerals and fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E, and K are retained and certain nutrients may even increase.
For example, corn releases more antioxidants when heated, making canned varieties an even better source of antioxidants.
Yet, since canning typically involves high heat, water-soluble vitamins like vitamins C and B can be damaged. But this also happens when you cook.
So, avoiding completely canned foods is not the answer here.
Instead, mix them with some fresh veggies and fruits.
For example, try canned carrots, beets and corn but avoid sugary syrups and canned beans.
Also, be sure to rinse very thoroughly foods that come in cans to get rid of the sodium in them.

Canned fruit is a little bit different, because it’s usually packaged in syrup and it’s more sugary than fresh fruit.
Also, avoid fruit juices, fruit bars and dried fruits, as we can see here.
Actually, when it comes to fruit, the choice is easy enough: real fruits are healthy, packaged foods with the word fruit stamped on are not healthy.
If you have kidney disease in the advanced stages or if your doctor told you to limit potassium, the most important thing you should keep in mind is to avoid those too rich in potassium.
So avoid bananas, avocados, cantaloupe, honeydew, papaya… and other high potassium fruits.
Now, what about grains and starches. These are the number one source of carbs, so I’ll explain how to make the right choice more in depth.
Starting from

Rice
White Rice is a great choice for the kidney diet-it provides energy and is low in minerals of concern for people with kidney disease or those on dialysis.
It has just 13 mg of potassium per half cup portion, or about 65g, and 60 mg of phosphorus.
This makes it perfectly safe for people with kidney disease in any stage.
White Rice is also considered a Safe Carbohydrate, since it is easy to digest and anyone can eat it.
But it has two main downsides.
First, it has a higher glycemic index than other types of rice.
The glycemic index describes how quickly the carbs in foods enter the blood stream. The lower, the better.
Also, white rice doesn’t have many micronutrients other types of rice have.
So you may prefer for example brown rice, which is a whole grain and has several benefits.
It’s richer in fiber and vitamins.
The downside of brown rice is that it’s also richer in phosphorus and potassium.
So, if you need to limit these two minerals, but you also want a healthier carb than white rice, there’s a better choice:
Wild rice.
Being a whole grain, it has a lot more fiber, nutrients and vitamins than white rice.
A half-cup serving yields 68 mg phosphorus and 83 mg potassium, not a lot more than white rice.
But it also has 52 mg magnesium, very healthy and it’s rich in vitamin b6.
These peculiarities make wild rice, in my opinion, the healthiest rice for people with kidney disease.

Now, other grains you should consider are
Barley
Buckwheat (kasha)
Bulgur
Popcorn

These whole grains are rich in fiber, B vitamins, iron, magnesium and selenium. Yes, popcorn included. It’s a healthy whole grain, if cooked in a healthy way.
And, while whole grains are generally richer in potassium and phosphorus than refined grains, these 4 here and wild rice are those with the lowest amount of these two dangerous minerals.
An ideal choice both for people with kidney disease and diabetes.

Now, what about Bread
Bread is not an easy choice for people with kidney disease.
Refined white bread (made from wheat flour) is generally low in phosphorus and potassium, but it’s made from refined grains, not the healthiest carbs.
The more bran and whole grains in bread, the greater the potassium and phosphorus content (and higher fiber content).
So you gain some and you lose some.
Here’s a comparison of some sliced breads:
1 slice White Bread: 25 mg potassium, 25 mg phosphorus, 150 mg sodium
1 slice soft Wheat Bread: 46 mg potassium, 39 mg phosphorus, 130 mg sodium
1 slice Whole Grain Bread: 70 mg potassium, 57 mg phosphorus, 130 mg sodium
So, what’s the best bread option?
It depends on how much bread you eat and how much Potassium and Phosphorus your Nephrologist recommends that you take in per day.
What’s more, a fact that is often overlooked is all breads, regardless being refined or whole grain, provide a significant amount of sodium (around 130 mg or more per slice).
My opinion? Limit bread and choose other, healthier, carbs.

For example, some legumes, especially those lower in potassium like green beans and green peas. Very healthy.

So, when choosing carbs, the key is choosing complex carbs-the ones that give you the most bang for your buck in terms of vitamins, minerals and fiber – but avoiding those too rich in potassium and phosphorus.
Processed foods tend to be high in carbs, especially refined carbohydrates that are more likely to cause your blood sugar to spike, while also being very low in vitamins, minerals and fiber.
And this is exactly what gives carbs a bad rap.
But carbs aren’t the enemy. You need them for energy. Remember that fruits and veggies are carbs, and we know those provide us with valuable micronutrients.
So, choosing less processed carb foods and paying attention to how much you are eating can make a big difference in your blood sugar and overall health.
Remember that Real foods equal better carbs.

And, by the way guys, next Tuesday I’m uploading a video about the healthiest foods you can find during the autumn.
So be sure to subscribe and set the notification bell to all, if you don’t want to miss it!
In the meantime, keep taking good care of your kidneys and be good to yourself.
This is all for today, thank you for watching!

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About the Author

Hi, my name is Michael and in this blog I'm gonna share the story of how I got off kidney dialysis for good. Getting off dialysis isn't easy at all, and that's why I'm trying to help people as much as I can.



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