Your kidneys, two bean-shaped organs in your back, perform many important functions. They filter waste products out of your blood while also balancing sodium, potassium and calcium levels in your system while producing hormones to manage both your blood pressure and red blood cells.
At least there is good news: there are numerous steps you can take to reduce your risk of kidney disease, two of the most important ones being managing diabetes and high blood pressure.
Get Regular Checkups
Regular checkups are one of the best ways to lower your risk of kidney disease and can help identify problems early. By testing both blood and urine regularly, doctors can assess if you’re at risk and help detect issues before they progress further.
Your doctor may perform a urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio (Urine ACR) test to detect protein in your urine and ascertain if there is damage or leakiness with your kidneys. This test can show whether protein has leaked out.
Your glomerular filtration rate can also be measured to gauge how efficiently your kidneys are filtering blood. To do so, a blood test measuring your creatinine levels must be conducted and this number entered into a math formula for measurement.
If you have diabetes, high blood pressure or other risk factors associated with kidney disease such as obesity or high cholesterol levels, at minimum annually you should undergo this test. Your nephrologist may recommend more frequent testing if your eGFR drops over time or if other risk factors exist for kidney disease.
Have your blood pressure tested to enable your nephrologist to diagnose your condition and assess any treatments necessary. A blood pressure test can also help them determine if medication may help reduce or even prevent kidney disease from progressing further.
An annual health exam also allows your physician to learn more about your family history of kidney disease or any other issues, building trust between yourself and them.
Your nephrologist may suggest making changes to your diet that could lower your risk of kidney disease, such as including more fruits and vegetables in your daily intake or cutting back on sodium-containing food items, while increasing potassium-rich food choices. Regular physical activity is another great way to enhance overall health and protect yourself against kidney disease.
Manage Your Diabetes and High Blood Pressure
Diabetes and high blood pressure have both been linked with an increased risk of kidney disease. Scientists do not yet fully understand why these two conditions are connected, but there are things you can do to lower your risk.
Maintaining stable blood glucose and blood pressure levels are the cornerstone of kidney health. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and any medications prescribed by your physician may all play a part in keeping these numbers within normal ranges.
Additionally, home blood pressure monitors can alert you when your levels aren’t optimal, helping you take regular readings and discuss any fluctuations with your physician to best manage them.
Your kidneys filter blood and remove waste and excess fluid, so when they don’t function as intended, signs of chronic kidney disease (CKD) may appear. Although recognizing and treating early symptoms may be challenging, early diagnosis and treatment could help halt it before progressing to kidney failure – something which would be life-threatening otherwise.
A kidney function test can measure how effectively your kidneys are working. Usually this exam should be administered once yearly; however, more frequent exams may be recommended if other health issues or changes to diabetes medications require their monitoring.
Most commonly, those living with both diabetes and high blood pressure are prescribed angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), or ACE inhibitors, to decrease their blood pressure by blocking an enzyme responsible for producing hormones which increase it. These drugs work to lower your BP by hindering this production of hormones which raise it further.
An effective blood pressure medication is key for lowering your risk of kidney disease, along with lifestyle modifications like eating less sodium and exercising regularly. Medication should be used alongside lifestyle adjustments like dieting and exercising more.
Eat a Kidney-Friendly Diet
An effective kidney-friendly diet is crucial to helping reduce your risk of kidney disease and can assist with fluid management and blood pressure regulation. Furthermore, such an approach will prevent weight gain while keeping you feeling energetic throughout the day.
Kidney-friendly food options include whole grains, vegetables and fruits; lean proteins; low potassium/low phosphorus foods and more. Your healthcare provider can recommend an appropriate kidney-friendly diet plan.
Fruits and veggies are essential parts of a kidney-friendly diet, packed full of essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that provide our bodies with much-needed sustenance. But it’s important to pay attention when selecting produce as some varieties could harm kidney health instead.
Citrus fruits and some starfruits may be harmful to your kidneys; you should limit how often or raw you eat them.
Nuts can also make an excellent addition to a kidney-friendly diet, thanks to their abundance of antioxidants and fiber content; plus they’re an excellent source of protein, magnesium and other vital nutrients.
As they contain high concentrations of phosphorus, walnuts should be eaten sparingly or chosen alternatives with lower phosphorus levels such as macadamia nuts.
Dairy products are an integral component of a kidney-friendly diet. Milk, yogurt and cheese contain calcium as well as other important nutrients that will benefit your kidneys; however, only consume small quantities daily.
Garlic: To reduce salt accumulation in your body and improve kidney function, limit how much salt you consume each day by switching up what you eat with garlic, onions or spices as alternatives to salt.
Processed meats such as hot dogs, bacon, pepperoni and jerky should not be consumed by individuals with kidney disease as they often contain salt in their preparation process and/or canned products that increase sodium intake.
Get Regular Exercise
Exercise can help protect your kidneys in multiple ways, from reducing your risk of heart disease and other ailments like diabetes and high blood pressure, to increasing overall well-being.
Living with chronic kidney disease makes physical activity even more crucial; regular exercise can lower your blood pressure, regulate cholesterol levels, help manage weight and enhance the condition of blood vessels.
Exercise can not only boost your energy and mood, but it can also release endorphins – hormones which reduce pain while increasing pleasure – into the body.
Recent research found that people who exercise regularly are at a lower risk of kidney disease. Exercise improves health and fitness while relieving stress, increasing blood flow to kidneys and increasing overall circulation to increase overall wellbeing.
Before engaging in any new physical activities, if you’re living with kidney disease it is crucial that your plan of exercise be discussed with a healthcare provider first. You’ll need the appropriate equipment and lifestyle adjustments – such as making sure to drink plenty of water and restrict sodium consumption.
Your doctor may also suggest a diet low in sodium, sugar and fat; incorperating fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Avoid eating fast food, fried foods and ready meals from grocery stores which contain an average daily sodium consumption of around 2,000 milligrams; try and lower this figure.
If you need guidance in starting an exercise program, consult with your physician first about some low-impact exercises such as walking or jogging. Strength-training exercises like pull-ups or push-ups could also be included into the mix.
Stress is a natural part of life, but prolonged exposure can contribute to serious mental and physical health problems as well as increase your risk for kidney disease.
Reducing stress requires being aware of its signs and symptoms in order to effectively cope. For help managing it, speak with your physician or health provider regarding ways such as exercise and healthy diet that could reduce stress.
Stressful lifestyles can lead to serious health concerns, including high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. They may also prompt you to drink more alcohol which is damaging for the kidneys.
As good news, reducing stress is one of the keys to lowering your risk of kidney disease. Do this by developing relaxing rituals and setting aside time for relaxation as well as prioritizing self-care.
1. Establish a relaxing routine, such as meditation or breathing exercises, which will help you reduce stress and feel in control of your life.
2. Discover ways to socialize and make time for others, whether that means spending time with family and friends, attending religious services or volunteering.
3. Engage in an activity you find relaxing to relieve tension and reduce stress. Taking part in something you enjoy doing is an ideal way to escape the house and relieve tension.
4. Limit your intake of salt and caffeine beverages that can exacerbate stress. These drinks may also raise blood pressure; to protect yourself best, limit them as much as possible.
5. Reach out for help if you are feeling overwhelmed and are having difficulty managing it on your own. Counselors or therapists provide a safe space where you can discuss the sources of stress in order to develop new coping mechanisms and learn skills necessary for dealing with it.