Before I go into what I eat in my IgA nephropathy diet, it’s important to explain what exactly is IgA nephropathy?
Also called Berger’s disease, this condition is a chronic kidney disease (CKD) that happens with immunoglobulin (IgA) deposits start to accumulate in the kidneys. These immunoglobulins help your body eliminate infections and are a normal part of the human body. When you have this disease, you essentially were dealt a defective version of immunoglobulin A. These end up becoming stuck in the kidneys and lead to inflammation and scarring.
I was diagnosed with this disease in 2019 after undergoing a kidney biopsy. This was done because I had high creatinine levels in my annual checkup with my primary physician.
How Has This Diagnosis Led Me to the IGA Nephropathy Diet?
While you may not have heard about this condition, it’s something that’s affected millions of people across the world. Once diagnosed with this CKD, you are going to unfortunately deal with it for life. However, in many cases, IgA nephropathy does not progress into anything you’ll need to get serious medical care for. I’ve actually increased my kidney function over the last few years by making diet and lifestyle adjustments, and I’ll share those adjustments with you later in this article.
The main treatment for this kidney disease is getting your blood pressure under control and obtaining normal cholesterol levels. This is normally done through medication. For example, I’m on a very small dosage of lisinopril in addition to mycophenolate to help with the inflammation. (This took years to adjust to this mix of prescription meds – your treatment and diagnosis may be different.)
Some people who end up getting near renal failure have to one day get a kidney transplant.
This IgA nephropathy diet, coupled with some lifestyle changes, and a few key components supplementing a regular diet are what I plan on sticking to in order to end up having to get a kidney transplant.
IgA Nephropathy Diet Plan and Lifestyle Changes
According to many reliable health sources, including my own nephrologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Florida, there are ways you can pump the brakes on IgA nephropathy if you are willing to make some changes to your diet and lifestyle.
The main ways you can help yourself slow this down include:
- Avoid sodium at all costs
- Consume a diet low in cholesterol and saturated fats
- Consume less protein
- Add omega-3 fatty acids.
The last one is the easiest, as I have found a supplement that acts as a multi-vitamin for chronic kidney disease patients. Coupled with other personal changes, this supplement has helped me lower my creatinine from levels almost as high as 3.0, to under 2.0, all while increasing my GFR.
I’ll have a full review written up and posted soon.
In terms of lifestyle, I’ve been more active in my 40’s (I was diagnosed at 40 years old) than I was in my 30’s. A lot of that can be attributed to this diet and the need to lower my blood pressure. Kidney disease and high blood pressure both run in my family, so I wanted to get ahead of this by making some very simple lifestyle changes.
#1: Limit the “Uppers”
Everything from coffee, to soda, to energy drinks, to weight loss supplements, to HGH injections, can all elevate your blood pressure. At one point in my late 30’s, I was doing ALL of them.
These days, I simply drink coffee. That’s my “upper.” I don’t even risk coupling it with an energy drink, no matter what sort of workout I have ahead of me. It’s what led to my blood pressure being so elevated in the first place, which led me to this path.
#2: Cut out Processed Foods
I rarely find myself eating processed foods anyway, but one look at the label will show you why you need to avoid processed foods when you have IgA nephropathy. The amount of sodium needed to preserve a processed food is off the charts!
#3: Be More Active
Even incorporating short walks throughout your day can lead to massive health gains, not just for kidney patients.
#4: Supplement Your Diet With Fish Oil & Omega-3’s
Again, I use this one as it plays defense on my kidney function while also providing everything a multi-vitamin would. My GFR has never been better since I started taking this.
My nephrologist always stresses this, and it’s the easiest of the five lifestyle changes I’ve made to help me manage my IgA nephropathy. I try to drink half of my body weight in water, or more, every single day.
The Dash Diet and IgA Nephropathy
Created to help people lower their blood pressure, this popular diet could be of assistance for anyone with IgA nephropathy. The word “DASH” stands for “dietary approaches to stop hypertension,” and it’s basis is consuming vegetables, fruits, lean meats, and whole grains coupled with a massive reduction of sodium. Personally, I don’t purchase any seasonings that contain sodium, and there is an entire “Dash” line of seasonings (to create flavor like salt does” that you should be able to find at your local grocer or Amazon.com.
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To reduce your sodium and cholesterol intake, you can try following a diet similar to the DASH diet. DASH stands for dietary approaches to stop hypertension. This diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats and reducing your intake of sodium.