About keeping kidneys healthy
25-31 May is kidney health week and did you know that 1 in 3 Australians are at an increased risk of developing kidney disease? You can lose up to 90% of your kidney function before symptoms even present . By taking action, chronic kidney disease can be reversed, well managed or even prevented. Your risk for developing chronic kidney disease can actually be lowered. There are a number of lifestyle diseases that can damage your kidneys over time e.g. diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure. The good news is that lifestyle related diseases can often be avoided! Hence your kidneys will also have a better chance of staying healthy.
What are some common risk factors for chronic disease?
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Poor diet
- Overweight/ obesity
- Lack of physical activity
Altering the above points can make a significant difference to your overall health. If you have a family history of kidney disease, leading a healthy lifestyle can be even more important in prevention.
Dietary measures for prevention/ management
One of the main measures of lowering your risk of kidney disease is to prevent any other lifestyle related diseases occurring that will damage the kidneys.
Holding excess weight, particularly around the abdomen, is one of the biggest impacting factors on the risk of developing lifestyle related disease. By being within a healthy weight range, you can help prevent conditions like hypertension, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. If you already have a lifestyle related condition, falling in to a healthy weight range can reduce the severity of the condition or prevent it from progressing and affecting other parts of the body e.g the kidneys. See my blog on ‘Australia’s healthy Weight Week’ for more information on a healthy weight and how to measure yourself:
Water is lost through the skin, lungs, faeces and urine. We therefore need to ensure we are replacing what we lose so that our body runs efficiently. Not having enough water can also impact blood pressure. Water helps add volume to our blood so not having enough can mean our blood volume is reduced and low blood pressure will result. For the health of your kidneys, water should be the drink of choice. Many sugary or caffeinated drinks will not hydrate you and also contribute to your energy and sugar intake (not to mention their shortfalls in terms of benefits for the body). Fluid requirements are generally lower for those with end stage kidney failure and some cardiac conditions.
A diet high in salt can also impact blood pressure, making it higher than it should be. As previously mentioned, hypertension is a risk factor for kidney disease and heart disease. Therefore a diet low in salt should be followed. Simple tips include:
- Avoiding packaged products where possible and choosing ‘salt reduced’ items
- Avoiding takeaway
- Not adding salt to meals during or after cooking
- If you have diabetes, have good control over your blood glucose levels
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Be physically active
- Eat a balanced diet full of vegetables, fruit, wholegrain products, dairy foods, lean meat/ poultry/ fish, tofu, legumes, nuts and seeds
Kidneycheck is a program available for individuals who have been diagnosed with diabetes or hypertension. It allows you to check at home for the presence of protein in your urine – an indicator of kidney disease. Follow the link below for more information. KidneyCheck – Kidney Health Australia
Contact us for results focused nutritional advice
This article was written by our dietitian Belinda Elwin who is a Dietitians Association of Australia member and an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist. If you have any questions about kidney disease and nutrition make an appointment. We’ll provide you with a simple and effective routine targeted to your concerns. Contact us today!