The prevention of further kidney damage
Slowing down progression
If your kidneys' filtering function is already impaired, it is important to slow down the progression of the disease.
Various measures may be helpful for this:
- See a physician as soon as possible and on a regular basis. They can best advise you on your kidney disease.
- Take your medication as directed by your physician. Your medication plan is an extremely important part of therapy. It treats symptoms of kidney disease and targets to slow the progression of the disease.
- A low-salt diet has been also shown to reduce blood pressure and proteinuria. Let your physician advise you on this.
- An increased fruit and vegetable intake may support a decrease in body weight and blood pressure. However, please be aware that high potassium levels found in fruits may lead to serious complications if not consumed in the correct amount. Please consult your physician on this!
- Light regular exercise and increased physical activity can help with lowering blood pressure and can improve one's quality of life. It may also help to reduce the risk of heart problems. Heavy exercise is not advised. Please consult with your physician on this.
- Stop smoking, as this has been shown to reduce your risk of heart problems
Coping with chronic kidney disease can be tough. Actively changing your lifestyle can have a positive impact on your well-being. You should try to perserve the functioning of your kidneys and keep them working for as long as possible.
You probably already know that light daily exercise can have a positive effect on your body. Regular exercise strengthens your muscles and bones, makes you become more flexible and improves your overall balance. Exercising also plays an important role for your mind. It can help distract you from negative thoughts or be a conscious form of self-care.
If your kidney function worsens or if any changes in your disease state occurs, you may not feel as fit as you used to. The frequency and intensity of your training depends on your current state of health. Talk to your physician before beginning an exercise program to get recommendations on what is good for you.
How light exercise may help you and your body:
- You can reduce your blood pressure
- You can improve your quality of life
- You may reduce your risk for heart problems
- You may reduce stress
- You may create opportunities for (new) social contacts
As you can see, there are good reasons to exercise regularly!
Taking medication is an important part of your treatment. The aim of the medication is to alleviate symptoms of kidney disease, restore some of the disturbed hormones and keep your kidneys functioning for as long as possible. For these reasons, it is of the utmost importance that you take your medication regularly as prescribed by your physician, even if you are feeling well!
It is also important that you tell your nephrologist about any other medications you are taking. Some medications are not well suited for kidney patients and your physician can make an optimal decision for you.
Nutrition for kidney patients
At first you might find it difficult to adhere to new dietary guidelines. However, over time, you will find new ways to enjoy your meals. Try to remember that what you eat has a direct impact on your well-being and certain ingredients can influence the functioning of your kidneys.
As a symptom of your kidney disease, you may experience a loss of appetite and therefore find it difficult to follow an adequate diet. This can initially lead to unwanted weight loss and later even to malnutrition. You can overcome this by following a well-balanced diet.
If too much protein is ingested through food, it can increase kidney excretion, since urinary substances are formed when it is metabolized. As a result, the kidneys are exposed to increased stress and workload and thus, their function can deteriorate further. If necessary, your physician may recommend that you reduce your consumption of foods that contain protein.
Sugar can cause weight gain but can also promote tooth decay. Sugar-sweetened drinks are low in nutrients and contain unnecessary calories.
Consuming too much salt promotes water retention and high blood pressure. This may lead to a progression of your kidney disease. Try to experiment with herbs and spices!
Find recipes that fit a kidney-friendly diet and learn why kidney replacement therapy can support you within the next section.
To learn more about the cornerstones of a kidney-friendly diet, take a look at the CKD Nutrition and pre-dialysis website.