Potassium is a mineral which is important for life. This mineral is necessary for many organs to work correctly such as the kidneys, heart, etc. But in high doses, this mineral can be dangerous.
However, we should never take potassium supplements without consulting a doctor. Our body uses this mineral in homeostasis (balancing the electrical and chemical processes in the body), regulation of muscle tissue, digestion, and metabolism.
Excess potassium might cause loss of nerve and muscle control, cardiac arrest, and irregular heartbeat.
As a matter of fact, our kidneys remove the excess potassium, but in case of renal disease, which is caused by diabetes, the kidneys can’t work normally. A build-up of potassium, known by the name hyperkalemia may have fatal consequences.
The best way to deal with this is to prevent it. Prevention is the key. Therefore, following a diet low in potassium can be beneficial. Read on to find out more about low potassium diet.
3 Steps to Plan Low-Potassium Diet
We need to pick carbs which are low in sugar and potassium. Carbs have a direct influence on blood glucose which is why many people count their carbs.
The bad news is that low GI high fiber carbs might be high in phosphorous and potassium. Therefore, instead of consuming two slices of whole-grain bread, consume just one slice of white bread. This should be one serving of a low potassium carb.
We need to avoid processed proteins. Sausages, lunch meats, meats, and cold cuts with nitrates seem to be higher in potassium. This is in comparison to lean cuts of poultry, meat, fish, eggs, and seafood.
Also, we need to limit the intake of dried legumes and nuts, as well as of low-fat dairy products. Consult a doctor about the consumption of protein.
Individuals with renal failure sometimes need to follow a diet which is low in protein, in case they haven’t already begun with dialysis. On the other hand, dialysis patients often need more protein, because of tissue loss.
We need to learn which vegetables and fruits are better for our low potassium diet. We might have been avoiding starchy vegetables due to their high carb content.
However, spinach, broccoli, artichokes, okra, and tomatoes need to be avoided in case we have kidney disease. Make sure to pick fruits like grapefruit, berries, and apples.
We cannot judge how much potassium food contains, therefore, we might need a renal diet guide which lists the electrolyte content of food. Below are some foods which are high in potassium and which we need to avoid.
Foods High in Potassium
- Dairy foods and milk;
- Dried beans;
- Citrus fruits like grapefruits and oranges;
We should pay close attention to portion control. In case we have 3 servings of low-potassium food, we still might be consuming too much.
It’s best to cook at home. When eating outside we have less control over portion control, food preparation, and fat and sodium content.
Word of Caution
In case we have any signs of hyperkalemia, like weakness, nausea, weak heartbeat, fainting, or shortness of breath we should consult our doctor immediately. We should consult them before we make any changes to our diabetes management plan.