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Eating Right Can Help You Manage Chronic Kidney Disease

Did you know that 37 million American adults have Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and millions more are at increased risk for it? Your body is heavily dependent on your kidneys, and for people living with CKD, managing this progressive conditions means making smart lifestyle choices to protect their kidneys from further damage.

What is Chronic Kidney Disease?

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a condition in which your kidneys are damaged and unable to filter blood the way they should. The disease is referred to as “chronic” because the damage to those organs occurs slowly over a long period of time.

What Do the Kidneys Do?

The kidneys filter extra water and waste out of your blood to make urine. Over time, as the disease progresses, waste can build to high levels in your blood and lead to health complications like high blood pressure, anemia (low blood count), weak bones, poor nutritional health and nerve damage.

What Causes CKD?

Anyone can get CKD, but the chance of developing it increases with age. However, individuals living with the following conditions are more at risk for CKD:

  • Diabetes. Diabetes is the leading cause of CKD. When blood sugar levels are too high, it causes damage to various parts of the body including the heart, kidneys, blood vessels, eyes and nerves.

  • HBP. High blood pressure (hypertension) occurs when the pressure of the blood against the walls of the blood vessels increases. If not managed properly, HBP can lead to strokes, heart attacks, and CKD. It should be noted that CKD also causes HBP.

  • Heart disease. Individuals living with CKD are likely to get heart disease. Heart disease is any problem that keeps your heart from pumping blood as well as it should. It could be attributed to buildup of a substance called plaque in the blood vessel walls, a blood clot, or heart attack, where heart damage is caused by a lack of blood and oxygen to the heart.

  • Family history. Kidney disease has a tendency to run in families. If anyone in your immediate family has or had kidney failure, you are at higher risk for CKD.

Why is Diet Important for Those Living with CKD?

Simply put, maintaining a well-balanced diet is key to a person’s overall health and wellness. Watching what you eat and drink can help you stay healthier, longer. Enjoying a kidney-friendly diet means limiting the consumption of certain minerals to keep waste and fluid from building up in the blood. For people living with both diabetes and CKD, being conscious about their diets can help with managing their blood sugar.

Steps to Eating Right

When following a kidney-friendly meal plan, the goal is to reach your blood pressure and blood glucose goals to prevent or delay health problems caused by kidney disease. It should be noted that the strictness of a meal plan usually depends on the stage of kidney disease. When planning your diet, taking the following into consideration:

  • Sodium intake. Salt is a mineral found in most foods. Too much salt can cause dehydration, which can lead to swelling and raise blood pressure. To limit sodium, avoid processed meats, canned soups, frozen dinners, pickled items and sodium-packed condiments like soy sauce, BBQ sauce and ketchup. When preparing meals, don’t add salt to your food. Instead, try cooking with salt-free spices and fresh herbs to add flavor. Steer clear of salty snacks and opt to munch on fresh fruits and vegetables.

  • Protein intake. Limiting or changing your source of protein is important. A lack of protein can cause your hair, nails and skin to be weak. On the flip side, having too much protein forces the kidneys to work harder and may cause more damage. To achieve optimal health, you may need to adjust how much protein you eat. Higher protein foods include red meat, poultry, fish and eggs. Ask your care team what amount is appropriate for you.

  • Liquid intake. Staying hydrated is a must, but when living with CKD, consuming too much fluid can be dangerous and cause HBP, swelling and heart failure. Extra fluid can also build up around the lungs and make it difficult to breathe. To limit liquid intake, avoid foods that contain a lot of water like soups, foods that melt and certain fruits and vegetables. To help quench your thirst, the American Kidney Fund recommends chewing gum, rinsing your mouth, or sucking on a piece of ice, mints or hard candy.

  • Fat and carbohydrate intake. Healthy fats and good sources of carbohydrates are part of a well-balanced diet because they’re sources of energy. In terms of fats, choosing the unsaturated kind can help reduce cholesterol. These include olive oil, peanut oil and corn oil. In terms of carbohydrates, choosing healthy sources like fruits and vegetables is crucial for managing blood sugar. Avoid sugar, soft drinks, hard candies, and the like.

  • Portion size. Portion control is a critical component of any meal plan, especially kidney-friendly diets. To ensure you’re getting the right amount of minerals, calories, protein, fat, carbohydrates and fluids, record how much you’re actually consuming.

Presidio Home Care and CKD

Eating healthy is no easy task, with or without CKD. Presidio Home Care Aides are here to make eating a kidney-friendly diet effortless and enjoyable for your loved one. From grocery shopping for the right foods, to preparing delicious and balanced meals, to managing fluid intake, you can have peace of mind knowing that our Home Care Aides are helping your loved ones achieve optimal health. Contact your local office today to learn more.

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