Kidney disease myths are not only harmful to individuals but the misinformation can lead to improper care for those living with CKD. Here I unpack 4 common myths about CKD.
Myth #1: Dietitians can’t help until you’re on dialysis
Dietitians can help at any stage of CKD. In all stages, a trained renal dietitian can help with understanding labs and specific diet changes that may or may not be needed based on your individualized results. In earlier stages, we are focusing more on prevention and preservation of kidney function.
Some dietitians accept insurance and others do not. Those that do not accept insurance can often give a superbill (or receipt) for all or a portion of the services offered. The client then submits the superbill to their insurance as an out of network claim and it may be reimbursed in part or fully.
Myth #2: All phosphorus should be avoided to keep bones strong
Our bodies actually do need phosphorus. We literally can’t live without it. The body’s primary energy molecule is ATP (or adenosine triphosphate) which contains 3 phosphate units! The problem in CKD is that the kidneys aren’t as good at eliminating extra phosphorus and the gut can absorb too much from our diet.
Not all phosphorus is created equal. Plant phosphorus is less absorbed by the body than animal sources and way less than phosphate additives. Limiting phosphorus additives and replacing some meat products with plant based alternatives is a great place to start for many individuals.
Myth #3: If your potassium is high, you have to limit potassium in your diet
Just like phosphorus, our bodies do need potassium. Potassium is important in muscle and nerve function. So many healthy and delicious foods have potassium. Research has shown that medication is likely to have a larger impact on blood potassium levels, especially in earlier stages of CKD, than the food consumed.
Other cause of high blood potassium are high blood sugars, bleeding (would appear as bruising or bloody stools) and constipation. Similar to phosphorus, potassium additives have a larger impact on serum potassium levels than the potassium in whole foods. Potassium Chloride is a salt substitute that contains added potassium instead of sodium.
We cover all things phosphorus and potassium (and MUCH more) in both the CKD + Diabetes course and the Dialysis Essentials course. If you are looking to learn the facts, check Group Class Offerings!
Myth #4: The cause of CKD is poor management of ___ (insert other chronic illness)
Of all the kidney disease myths I have heard, this one hurt the most. I have worked with fantastic individuals that have CKD for a variety of reasons. If anyone on your healthcare team shames you for your CKD, it might be time to find a new team!
CKD has many potential causes. Healthcare is complex and minority groups are still marginalized when it comes to receiving the best care. Not to mention access to a healthcare team for those in remote areas. I work as a telehealth dietitian and can work with individuals across the country on an individual basis and around the world in group programs.
How to right the wrongs
If you feel you have been told one of these CKD myths by your healthcare team, I’m sorry. If you would like to work with an expert to take control of your CKD, please schedule a free intro call to learn more about what it is like to work with me on an individual basis.
You can also find other Registered Dietitians in a variety of ways. How to find a dietitian.