Your kidneys filter and eliminate your body’s waste products and blood’s excess fluids. If they fail, you may think your only survival options are dialysis (a machine that replaces your kidneys’ blood-filtering function) or a transplant. But experts offer tips to help you avoid or delay chronic kidney disease (CKD) development.
High blood pressure can cause kidney damage, warns the American Kidney Fund (AKF). But managing hypertension can help safeguard those organs and prevent or slow disease progression. If your doctor recommends regular at-home blood pressure checks, your results include two important numbers. The top one, systolic pressure, measures your highest blood pressure when your heart’s beating. Your diastolic pressure, the bottom number, gauges your lowest blood pressure between heartbeats. A normal reading is below 120/80 typically. If either figure is higher, you have hypertension.
Multiple prescription drugs provide blood pressure control and kidney protection. Captopril, an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor, decreases chemicals constricting blood vessels so blood can flow more smoothly. Losartan, an angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB), blocks substances that tighten your blood vessels for better blood flow. Zaroxolyn, a diuretic or water pill, encourages your body to expel extra fluids that may elevate blood pressure.
The AKF recommends salt and fat restrictions. To lower your sodium intake:
Don’t add salt while cooking and eating. Use fresh herbs, spices, or lemon juice instead.
Choose frozen or fresh vegetables over canned ones. Or rinse canned vegetables before cooking and eating to remove excess salt.
Select low- and reduced-sodium items.
Restrict salty snacks such as salted nuts, chips, and pretzels as well as fast foods.
Skip processed foods including lunchmeats and frozen dinners.
To limit fats:
Eat lean meats and fish, removing skin and trimming fat before cooking.
Bake, broil, or grill foods rather than frying.
Use low- or fat-free salad dressings, mayonnaise, and dairy products.
Replace vegetable oil with canola or olive oils.
Select egg substitutes or egg whites over whole eggs.
Preserve your kidneys in these additional healthy ways:
Manage your cholesterol levels
Reach and sustain your optimal weight
Be active physically
Increasing evidence associates poor diet and kidney disease, so researchers analyzed 900 subjects’ dietary habits, tracking their health for nearly seven years. Scores of at least five indicated that participants followed a Mediterranean diet closely, cutting their CKD chances in half. Their likelihood of rapid kidney function decline was 42 percent less than those with lower scores. The investigators tied each one-point increase to 17-percent reduced kidney disease odds.
Dr. Julie Lin notes that lowering your CKD risk through dietary choices is challenging. It requires discipline, vigilance, and regular exercise with rare indulgences to celebrate truly momentous occasions. To try this diet, focus on plant foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and whole grains. Include poultry and fish two or more times per week with healthy fats like olive oil replacing saturated fats. But limit red meats, sweets, and processed foods.
Modifiable Kidney Disease Diet
If you receive a kidney disease diagnosis, following a CKD diet can promote functional balance while relieving your kidneys’ exertion to hinder or stop further damage. A kidney-supporting diet includes the basics of most healthy food programs:
Consume high-quality proteins and healthy fats in adequate amounts.
Reduce sodium and restrict processed foods with minimal nutritional value.
You may need to limit your protein, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium amounts, depending on your kidney disease stage, nutritional standing, and blood’s waste and mineral levels.
Proteins: High-quality sources like meats, poultry, fish, soy products, and eggs build tissues and muscles. But damaged kidneys allow protein-based waste products to accumulate in your blood. In early illness stages, restricting protein may help inhibit this buildup. It also might reduce stress on your kidneys. But protein requirements may increase if you’re on dialysis for end-stage kidney disease.
Phosphorus: Your body uses this mineral from dairy products and meats to strengthen your teeth and bones. But from early CKD stages, your kidneys become less effective at removing extra phosphorus from your blood. Eating less may be necessary to avoid heart and bone conditions.
Potassium: At a specific level, this mineral keeps your heart and other muscles working properly. In early CKD stages, your kidneys might still remove excessive amounts. But if your malfunctioning kidneys elevate your potassium too much later, restriction may be necessary.
Sodium: Minimizing salt can help control hypertension, a common co-existing malady and CKD contributor. Sodium increases thirst, yet dialysis requires limiting fluids. So sodium restriction can help control both thirst and fluid intake.
CKD Recovery Food Secrets
You can prevent, improve, stop, or reverse CKD by eating certain super foods. Research shows that blueberries and dietary fiber repair kidney damage. Avoiding detrimental foods like red meats can slow your disease’s advancement. Listen to naturopathic doctor and nutritionist Robert Galarowicz explain other ways to heal your kidneys naturally and safely without dialysis or a kidney transplant (see video below).