The American Kidney Fund reports that more than one in seven American adults suffers from chronic kidney disease (CKD). What’s more, most people with CKD don’t know they’re affected until the disease is already advanced. Since late-stage kidney disease can lead to a buildup of waste in your body, as well as to various health conditions such as gout, bone disease, and heart disease, it’s a good idea to protect your kidney health even if you don’t have CKD.
Your diet is essential for your health, including kidney health. A healthy and nutritious diet can help you maintain your kidneys strong and healthy, and thus it’s effective at preventing or managing CKD.
Your kidneys have lots of tiny blood vessels that help filter waste and extra water from the body. If you have chronic kidney disease, your kidneys can’t filter blood as they should, which leads to excess buildup of waste in your body.
Diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure) are the two main reasons for kidney disease. High blood glucose in people with unmanaged diabetes and high blood pressure can damage the kidney’s blood vessels, resulting in poor kidney function.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 10 percent of the U.S. population suffers from diabetes and over a third of adults have prediabetes. About half of American adults aged 20 and over have high blood pressure. These people are at high risk of CKD.
A healthy diet helps control conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, in part by helping you to maintain a healthy weight which supports your kidney health. It’s crucial to stick to a kidney-friendly diet that includes limiting sodium, cholesterol, and fat intake. This diet consists of veggies, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean meats. Let’s look at some helpful tips to make your diet healthier. And if you have CKD, it’s best to consult your neurologist and dietitian who can help you adjust your diet.
1. Limit sodium intake
Limiting salt intake can help you manage your blood pressure and avoid hypertension. If you already have hypertension, you need to switch to a low-sodium diet. Consider cooking at home (it helps control how much sodium is in your dish), avoid eating at restaurants, use more seasonings, check the labels of foods you buy, and don’t forget to rinse foods before eating.
2. Eat more complex carbohydrates
Those who are at risk of diabetes, need to eat the right kind of carbs. In fact, eating simple carbs causes rapid weight gain which in turn leads to insulin sensitivity and diabetes. Limit your consumption of sweets and foods with starch and added sugars. Instead, lean on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, and lentils.
3. Speak with your doctor about whether you need to limit potassium and phosphorus
Phosphorus and potassium are essential minerals that are used by your body for certain processes. Phosphorus helps build strong bones, and potassium helps regulate your heartbeat and keeps your muscles working properly. But if you have chronic kidney disease, these minerals can build up in your blood, making your bones weak and more likely to break, and may cause itchy skin and bone and joint pain. Visit your doctor so that they can run blood tests to check your potassium and phosphorus levels.
4. Eat protein in moderation
If you have CKD, eating too much protein can cause waste to build up in your blood, and your kidneys might not be able to remove it.
5. Limit your intake of saturated fats and avoid trans fats
Diets that are rich in saturated and trans fats raise the risk of heart disease that can harm your kidneys. Heart health and kidney health are interconnected, as the heart constantly pumps blood throughout the body and the kidneys continuously filter the blood to remove waste products and excess fluid from the body.