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Planning a Low Potassium, Low Sodium Diet

written by: vrodbaz • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 8/21/2010

When you are a planning a low potassium, low sodium diet, it is important to consult with your doctor, first and foremost. Once you are given approval, you can incorporate a low potassium, low sodium diet into your daily routine.

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    What is Potassium?

    Potassium is a mineral that is found in the blood stream that helps to regulate the amount of sodium in the body. Sodium is known for controlling the body’s ability to stay hydrated. Potassium helps to cleanse the body of toxins, promotes insulin production, helps nerves and muscles function properly, helps digestive enzymes, and stabilizes blood pH.

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    Why are People Advised to Follow a Low Potassium, Low Sodium Diet?

    In a healthy individual, the kidneys work to flush out virtually all of the potassium that they have consumed; however, when a person’s kidneys are not working at their full capacity, potassium is left within the body. This is one symptom often found in people with heart failure. When a person has abnormally high levels of potassium in the blood, they are usually advised to follow a diet with low potassium.

    Since potassium is often used as a preservative for certain foods, foods containing high amounts of potassium also usually contain high amounts of sodium. This is why most doctors recommended lowering the intake of sodium and potassium.

    In order for the body to be able to flush out toxins and control the amount of sodium in the body, a low sodium and low potassium diet is recommended. A combination of low sodium and low potassium foods help to regulate the high levels of potassium in the body.

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    What Happens When a Person has High Levels of Potassium in the Body?

    Well, some of the side effects include weakness, general discomfort, nausea, diarrhea, and pain as well as muscle weakness. If immediate action is not taken, you could be left with an inability to urinate and a slow and irregular heartbeat.

    If you are interested in implementing a diet to lower potassium levels and sodium levels in the body, refer to the list below:

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    Help Lower Potassium and Sodium Levels by Following These Tips:

    • Reduce the amount of potassium in fruits and veggies by boiling them.
    • Keep an eye out for labels with the symbols KCI and K+ because these all contain high levels of potassium and should be avoided.
    • Stay away from salt substitutes and foods with these preservatives.
    • Ovaltine, light salts, coffee, sports drinks, granola bars, molasses, chocolate, and fig cookies have high levels of potassium and should be avoided.

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    Foods with Low Potassium and Sodium

    • Cooked peas
    • Vegetables
    • Legumes
    • Whole grain foods, bran, cereal, pasta, rice
    • Fresh fruit
    • Foods with high amounts of fiber

    Now that you know what foods have low levels of potassium and sodium, you can begin eating foods that will help you cope with complications due to heart failure. Always remember to consult with your doctor prior to starting any type of diet, and most importantly, learn to take care of yourself. Learn to mix it up once in a while and you will see that eating healthier doesn't mean giving up on taste.

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