This post will combine a bunch of different topics into one. Yesterday, I shared that this week’s food challenge was for me to be completely meat-free. Why I decided on that challenge I did not explain. If you follow me you know I have CKD. Last week I was browsing through Twitter and one of the kidney organizations I follow was doing a survey on initiatives that various kidney patients would like to see them pursue in the new year. I also knew before that, that there was a huge push for a plant-based diet to be used to treat kidney disease. Some of the questions were geared around that topic. One of my biggest complaints with them using a plant-based diet to treat kidney disease, well actually two complaints, is 1- phosphorus in a plant-based diet is going to be very high levels according to research I have done, though it may not be well absorbed by the body, and 2- I feel like Anemia is a huge issue to consider for anyone on a plant-based diet, but could be dangerous for people with kidney disease. Those 2 reasons, plus the video below encouraged me to approach this topic in the form of a food challenge.
You also know, if you read this blog, that I am creating a Nutrition course for my high school child. The video below will be included in that course.
To begin I need to clarify some frustrating definitions.
What is plant-based? According to Harvard University a plant-based diet is: plant-based or plant-forward eating patterns focus on foods primarily from plants. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. It doesn’t mean that you are vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. Rather, you are proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant sources. Why does this frustrate me? For one thing, not everyone classifies it the same way. Some lump plant-based in with veganism. Plant-based simply means the majority of your daily food intake will come from plants. This could mean frozen, canned, etc, especially if you live in a food desert.
What is whole food plant-based? This is a much stricter version of a plant-based diet. Foods should be of the least processed possible and probably raw. In another words in its most natural form. Why is this frustrating? Again, because so many groups and organizations are lumping all of it together, and trust me people take this stuff personally. Let me be clear. If you live in a food desert or on a fixed income, this diet is going to be very hard to follow and or very expensive. A lot in this group are also putting veganism in there. Some of these do not consume any oil in any form as it is highly processed.
What is Vegetarian? Very similar to plant-based, matter of fact I would say almost exactly with the exception that again, organizations and other entities are trying to push the Veganism movement in here. I think that is why it is now called plant-based instead of Vegetarianism. I will be doing plant-based or Vegetarian with some dairy and some eggs. Why? Because of B12. It is the best way to get that vitamin. I have no desire to be Anemic, and yes I can and will take a multivitamin but as you may or may not know there is some evidence that suggests the body does not even absorb multivitamins and are a complete waste of money.
What is Vegan? Vegan’s eat no meat at all, or any product that is derived from meat. They do not buy leather, or any fashion and beauty products derived from or tested on animals. This is a very noble goal to have. It is also not the healthiest for humans. It is awesome for animals, but some studies suggest Vegans do not necessarily eat a healthy diet just because they are not consuming meat products. Next week I will focus on this as it pertains to kidney disease. Some will say Veganism is a political movement and a lot of them are kind of aggressive about their choices as it pertains to convincing others.
I am not saying any of these are better or worse. What I am saying is that without proper education of all the issues that go with kidney disease and the complexities of it, these types of diets will only confuse people. Since phosphorus is not on food labels and is very hard to track in food items, suggesting everyone should be plant-based is complicated. I don’t want B12 injections, so I will do what my body needs to keep Anemia away. If that means I eat small amounts of meat or meat products then that is what I will do.
Now, to the next confusing part of this post. The video below is not about kidney disease. But, it is about living a healthier life into our later years. She mentions G-Bombs in the video and that everyone should be eating them every day. Of course, I had to see what G-Bombs were. Why is this confusing and frustrating? Keep reading to find out.
G-bombs is an acronym for Greens, Berries, Onions, Mushrooms, Beans and Seeds. Great, right? Let’s check some more.
Greens- If you follow some groups, greens means leafy greens. Such as mustard greens, spinach, kale, parsley, romaine lettuce etc. Well, some of us don’t actually like a lot of those greens. You may be bummed even thinking you can not meet your greens’ needs. Greens encompass any food source that is green. Yes, it is true that leafy greens are exceptionally healthy, but so are lots of other greens such as iceberg lettuce, peas, green beans, limes, broccoli, and so many more. So, go ahead and eat your greens, all greens. But, what if you have CKD? If you have kidney disease these greens are typically very high in potassium. So, be sure to eat them in small to moderate amounts. Plus, keep in mind if you are taking Coumadin, or Warfarin greens can be very high in Vitamin K which can affect the effectiveness of your medication. These things just confuse people when they are not told accurate information.
Berries- This one completely made me laugh. Strawberries, blackberries and others are not berries. They are fruit, but not berries. However, bananas, avocados, pumpkins, tomatoes, watermelon, and kiwis are. LOL, so eat your berries. I am pretty sure when they said berries in the video, as a matter of fact, I think she said strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc. Now, mind you those fruits are still very good for you but are not berries. Blueberries might be. Again, confusing to consumers of this information.
Onions- Alright I will give them this one. I don’t think there is any way to confuse onions.
Mushrooms- Mushrooms are actually very healthy and a decent protein source for anyone not eating meat. However, I don’t care for fresh mushrooms so I only eat canned or jarred. Plus mushrooms, again are very high in their phosphorus content and should be eaten mindfully if you have kidney disease. Canned or jarred may be less in phosphorus due to processing, but there is no definitive test I can find to that. They are very low in calories too.
Beans- This is my least favorite food to eat. Legumes would fall under this too, but peas are the only ones I like. I can eat small amounts of beans and that is not bad because beans, except green beans are high in potassium and phosphorus. They would need to be eaten with care if you have kidney disease. I only eat 1/4 cup at a time. They are a good source of protein but there is debate about how much of that protein is actually usable by the body.
Seeds- This is another very confusing category. You are probably eating way more seeds than you ever knew. You are probably thinking flax seeds, chia seeds and sunflower seeds. While those are seeds, again, if you have kidney disease these can be very high in phosphorus and I consume in small amounts only. Nuts can also be included according to the video, again, phosphorus is an issue. Read about seeds, here.
When you put all of this info together you can see how I, someone with kidney disease is frustrated with these kinds of recommendations. I don’t think there are enough studies showing it is safe for all aspects of kidney disease. Yes, I put all of that on my survey. Now, with all of that said, anytime you can eat a healthier diet with less processed foods and more whole foods it is obviously going to be better.
Now, for what I ate today. I made an avocado dressing to put on a baked potato and carrots for lunch. I typically don’t eat breakfast, but I did have a slice of leftover pizza. Dinner will be broccoli, sauteed mushrooms and onions and two eggs. I am not hungry and seem to be satisfied enough. I did go slightly over my carbs limit. I use Myhealthykidney, an app on my phone, and or Eat This Much website to try and figure out how much phosphorus I am consuming. Contact me to learn about my Health Coaching plans.