Preventing Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
You are more likely to develop kidney disease if you have
- high blood pressure
- heart disease
- a family history of kidney failure
What can I do to keep my kidneys healthy?
You can protect your kidneys by preventing or managing health conditions that cause kidney damage, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. The steps described below may help keep your whole body healthy, including your kidneys.
During your next medical visit, you may want to ask your health care provider about your kidney health. Early kidney disease may not have any symptoms, so getting tested may be the only way to know your kidneys are healthy. Your health care provider will help decide how often you should be tested.
See a provider right away if you develop a urinary tract infection (UTI), which can cause kidney damage if left untreated.
1. Make healthy food choices
Choose foods that are healthy for your heart and your entire body: fresh fruits, fresh or frozen vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Eat healthy meals, and cut back on salt and added sugars. Aim for less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day. Try to have less than 10 percent of your daily calories come from added sugars.
Tips for making healthy food choices
- Cook with a mix of spices instead of salt.
- Choose veggie toppings such as spinach, broccoli, and peppers for your pizza.
- Try baking or broiling meat, chicken, and fish instead of frying.
- Serve foods without gravy or added fats.
- Try to choose foods with little or no added sugar.
- Gradually work your way down from whole milk to 2 percent milk until you’re drinking and cooking with fat-free (skim) or low-fat milk and milk products.
- Eat foods made from whole grains—such as whole wheat, brown rice, oats, and whole-grain corn—every day. Use whole-grain bread for toast and sandwiches; substitute brown rice for white rice for home-cooked meals and when dining out.
- Read food labels. Choose foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
- Slow down at snack time. Eating a bag of low-fat popcorn takes longer than eating a slice of cake. Peel and eat an orange instead of drinking orange juice.
- Try keeping a written record of what you eat for a week. It can help you see when you tend to overeat or eat foods high in fat or calories.
Research has shown that the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH )eating plan may help you lower your blood pressure. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease, you may want to locate and work with a dietitian to create a meal plan that meets your needs.
2. Make physical activity part of your routine
Be active for 30 minutes or more on most days. If you are not active now, ask your health care provider about the types and amounts of physical activity that are right for you.
3. Aim for a healthy weight
The NIH Body Weight Planner is an online tool to help you tailor your plans to achieve and stay at a healthy weight. The Body Weight Planner is a part of the SuperTracker, a free food-, physical activity-, and weight-tracking tool from ChooseMyPlate.gov that will help you build a healthier diet, manage your weight, and reduce your risk of chronic disease, including kidney disease.
If you are overweight or obese, work with your health care provider or dietitian to create a realistic weight-loss plan. Follow these steps to maintain healthy weight.
4. Get enough sleep
Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. If you have trouble sleeping, take steps to improve your sleep habits:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. For children, have a set bedtime and a bedtime routine. Don’t use the child’s bedroom for timeouts or punishment.
- Try to keep the same sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends. Limit the difference to no more than about an hour. Staying up late and sleeping in late on weekends can disrupt your body clock’s sleep–wake rhythm.
- Use the hour before bed for quiet time. Avoid strenuous exercise and bright artificial light, such as from a TV or computer screen. The light may signal the brain that it’s time to be awake.
- Avoid heavy and/or large meals within a couple hours of bedtime. (Having a light snack is okay.) Also, avoid alcoholic drinks before bed.
- Avoid nicotine (for example, cigarettes) and caffeine (including caffeinated soda, coffee, tea, and chocolate). Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants, and both substances can interfere with sleep. The effects of caffeine can last as long as 8 hours. So, a cup of coffee in the late afternoon can make it hard for you to fall asleep at night.
- Spend time outside every day (when possible) and be physically active.
- Keep your bedroom quiet, cool, and dark (a dim night light is fine, if needed).
- Take a hot bath or use relaxation techniques before bed.
5. Stop smoking
If you smoke or use other tobacco products, stop. Ask for help so you don’t have to do it alone. For tips on quitting, go to Smokefree.gov.
6. Limit alcohol intake
Drinking too much alcohol can increase your blood pressure and add extra calories, which can lead to weight gain. If you drink alcohol, limit yourself to one drink per day if you are a woman and two drinks per day if you are a man. One drink is:
- 12 ounces (0.355 litre) of beer
- 5 ounces (0.148 litre) of wine
- 1.5 ounces ( 0.044 litre) of liquor
7. Explore stress-reducing activities
Learning how to manage stress, relax, and cope with problems can improve emotional and physical health. Physical activity can help reduce stress, as can mind and body practices such as meditation.
8. Manage diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease
If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease, the best way to protect your kidneys from damage is to
. Keep blood glucose numbers close to your goal. Checking your blood glucose, or blood sugar, level is an important way to manage your diabetes. Your health care team may want you to test your blood glucose one or more times a day.
. Keep your blood pressure numbers close to your goal. The blood pressure goal for most people with diabetes is below 140/90 mm Hg. Read more about high blood pressure.
. Take all your medicines as prescribed. Talk with your health care provider about certain blood pressure medicines, called ACE inhibitors and ARBs, which may protect your kidneys. The names of these medicines end in –pril or –sartan.
Be careful about the daily use of over-the-counter pain medications. Regular use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, can damage your kidneys.
. To help prevent heart attacks and stroke, keep your cholesterol levels in the target range. There are two kinds of cholesterol in your blood: LDL and HDL. LDL or “bad” cholesterol can build up and clog your blood vessels, which can cause a heart attack or stroke. HDL or “good” cholesterol helps remove the “bad” cholesterol from your blood vessels. A cholesterol test also may measure another type of blood fat called triglycerides.
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Source Agency: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)