One of the most common questions I get asked by my patients with chronic kidney disease is what they can do to "reverse" or "cure" their condition. Though there is no definitive "cure" for chronic kidney disease, there are some therapies that can help control the signs and symptoms, slow further progression of the disease, and reduce the risk of complications. Diabetes and hypertension are the leading causes of chronic kidney disease, and adequate management of these conditions is crucial in delaying progression of chronic kidney disease. However, there are a number of "modifiable lifestyle factors" that can also independently slow the progression of chronic kidney disease. I always encourage my patients to be proactive in the management of their health as I am a firm believer that prevention is more effective than cure. Below you will find a list of some health measures you can take to sustain and attain healthy kidney outcomes.
1. Dietary changes: specifically, increasing potassium intake, increasing vegetable intake, and lowering the intake of sodium in your diet. Increased dietary potassium is associated with a decreased rate of progression of chronic kidney disease in patients with GFR>45(early CKD). In patients with a GFR <45(advanced CKD) the protective effect may not be observed, and at this stage potassium may sometimes be restricted. Most fresh fruits and vegetables are rich in potassium. A high potassium diet has also been shown to reduce blood pressure. A healthy dietary pattern consisting of high intake of fruit, vegetables, low fat dairy, increased fiber, lower intake of sodium, red meat, and sugar has been associated with a 30% reduced chance of kidney damage. It is also important to mention that low vegetable consumption is associated with a greater risk of death in the general population. The simple act of adding more vegetables to your diet will delay chronic kidney disease progression and death from all causes.
2. Physical activity: Increased physical activity has not only been associated with decreased risk of death from cardiac causes, it has also been associated with a slower rate of decline in chronic kidney disease. Thirty minutes of daily, sustained physical activity and reduced sedentary periods have been shown to result in overall better health outcomes.
3. Avoidance of alcohol-Chronic alcoholism has been associated with chronic kidney disease. Excessive alcohol consumption is defined as >1-2 drinks/day or 5->15 drinks per week. Mild to moderate alcohol consumption as established by public health measures(<20g/day or <210 g/week) generally seems safe and unlikely to cause kidney damage. If you are consuming one alcoholic beverage every day for seven days in a week, you are consuming too much alcohol.
4. Avoidance of tobacco smoking-It is well established that smokers (current and former) are at higher risk of chronic kidney disease. The detrimental health consequences of smoking are not limited to the kidneys. Smoking is already known to cause increased risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. There is now evidence to suggest that smoking can cause insulin resistance and leakage of protein in the urine(microalbuminuria) which can lead to chronic kidney disease.
Chronic kidney disease affects ten percent of the world's population, and its incidence is increasing worldwide. Chronic kidney disease ranks in the top ten noncommunicable diseases contributing to disease and disability. Chronic kidney disease is also an independent risk factor for heart disease. Avoiding potential risks and implementing healthy lifestyle choices are essential in preventing kidney disease and delaying its progression.
If you have chronic kidney disease and would like to schedule a comprehensive evaluation, please call 817-233-6923 to schedule an appointment.