Chronic Kidney Disease Self-Care

Graphic explaining the effects of diabetes on the body, which cal lead to chronic kidney disease.

Every diabetic should know that they are at high risk for chronic kidney disease (CKD) and how often their kidney function should be checked and what their test results mean. Diabetes is the leading cause of CKD, and studies have shown that approximately one-third of people with diabetes will develop CKD.

Many diabetics needing dialysis often have said that they wished they had known about their ailing kidney function. Early detection and treatment of CKD can help to slow down or even prevent further kidney damage. The National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Disease website has simple information explaining kidney function test which can be reviewed with patients.

Self Care To Avoid Developing Chronic Kidney Disease

There are self-care practices that can help prevent the development of chronic kidney disease or slow its progression.

  1. Control and monitor blood sugar levels: Controlling blood sugar levels is critical to prevent the development of diabetic nephropathy.
  2. Manage blood pressure: High blood pressure damages the blood vessels in the kidneys and increase the risk of developing CKD.
  3. Eat a healthy diet: Eating a balanced, healthy diet that is low in salt, saturated fat, and processed foods can help protect kidney function. Try to stick with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
  4. Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help flush toxins and waste products out of the body and keep the kidneys functioning properly.
  5. Quit smoking: Smoking damages blood vessels and increase your risk of kidney disease. Quitting smoking can help protect kidney function and improve overall health.
  6. Limit alcohol consumption: Drinking too much alcohol damages the kidneys and increases blood pressure. Limit alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
  7. Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help lower blood pressure, control blood sugar levels, and improve overall health. It's recommended to exercise at least 30 minutes most days of the week.

Nutrition Tips To Help Prevent CKD

Healthy eating patterns include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, poultry, fish, plant proteins, oils and low-fat dairy are associated with slower progression of CKD. This includes plant-based and Mediterranean Diet eating patients and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.

Recommended protein guidelines are an intake of 0.8 g/kg/day. With those that are below the acceptable standard boy weights, protein needs may be higher to promote lean tissue development. Protein recommendations may need to be decreased for patients whose BMI is considered overweight or obese to avoid excess protein, which can cause additional kidney damage.

People with CKD have got to be aware of their potassium and phosphorus intake. Intake may need to be limited due to decreased kidney function. Labels will list potassium, but information on phosphorus is not included on the label. Natural phosphorus in many high phosphorus plant-foods has a 60% absorption rate, while phosphate additives in processed foods are absorbed at a rate of 100%.

As kidney function declines, nutritional recommendations will need to be adjusted. So please, have a conversation with your physician. Kidney function tests are usually performed annually or bi-annually.

Ready to find out more?

As a Diabetes Educator and Nutritionist I help my patients cope with managing their diabetes - whether it's diet, nutrition, supplements, blood sugar, or pump therapy.

Please reach out and contact me if you need support, I truly understand. I live it every day. 

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