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Preventing and Managing CKD Through Diet and Exercise

Posted by Reliant Renal Care

I see patients every day who are told by their primary care physician that they have chronic kidney disease (CKD).  Sometimes, the patients are confused by this news because they rarely show any symptoms, but solid lab evidence clearly shows that damage is underway.  Of course, the conversation always leads to the most natural and obvious question: “How do I control CKD and stop it from getting worse?”

First, we must quickly understand how CKD begins to take shape in our bodies.  In most cases, CKD stems from some combination of the following: high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol and tobacco use.

Now, whether these conditions are genetic – diabetes, high blood pressure – or brought on by lifestyle choices – smoking, poor diet – is a grey area. Nonetheless, two or more of those factors always work together to create CKD. Once CKD is manifested, the best way to control the disease is to control the lifestyle causes.  This, of course, is easier said than done.  Yet it must be done to preserve the patient’s health.

Diet, without debate, plays the most vital role in the progression or limitation of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol.  If we work and help to educate our patients about better eating habits and exercise, we can often prevent kidney disease and heart disease from progressing.

Here are five rules to follow when it comes to eating to prevent CKD and other diseases:

  1. Do Not Eat At Buffets. It’s simple, eating at a buffet guarantees that you will eat more than you should. They don’t call them, “All You Can Eat,” for no reason. Just steer clear, and eat healthy portioned meals.
  2. Do Not Eat In Your Car.  More often than not, any eating in the car is done with fast food. Beyond the lack of nutrition in fast food, eating while driving tends to make you eat fast food faster, scarfing down bites between lane changes. Eating fast tricks your body into feeling not full, so you eat more to feel full. If you want fast food, go inside, sit down, and eat slowly. Treat it like a meal, not just a pit stop.
  3. Do Not Order Any Menu Item With The Word “Platter” In It.  Platters are usually a plethora of sodium, saturated fats, high cholesterol sauces and empty carbohydrates. Again, portion control is key.
  4. Don’t Eat Anything With Ingredients You Don’t Recognize or Cannot Pronounce. We live in an age of chemically processed and preserved foods, which can be very damaging to bodily health. Try eating all natural, whole foods, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  When shopping, avoid the middle aisles of the grocery store, which is where all the non-perishable, packaged, preserved items exist. Instead, shop only along the perimeter, where you can find all the natural foods.
  5. Do Not Eat From Or Shop At A Convenience Store. If you need some eggs, or a carton of milk, on the way home, sure, run into the corner store or gas station to pick those items up. But don’t make a habit of consuming full meals, which have been sitting behind glass, under heat lamps for unknown amounts of time, at the convenience store. Further, don’t prepare a shopping list of convenient store items, which are often loaded with processed sugars, excess sodium and chemical dyes, flavorings and preservatives.

By practicing these five relatively simple changes to your lifestyle, you can prevent the root causes of CKD, or manage your CKD and keep it in check. Further, by adding minimal amounts of exercise into your lifestyle, something as simple as walking around the block three days per week, you can counteract and further prevent CKD from damaging your body.

Small changes in lifestyle can lead to big results in the your health. For more information and education about kidney health, visit our education page. If you have questions, contact Reliant Renal Care.