Lifestyle Changes for CKD

Lifestyle Changes with CKD

Making health changes are an essential part of managing kidney disease. These health changes are often called lifestyle modification. And it involves changing long-term habits, usually of eating or physical activity, and maintaining the new behaviour for months or years to help manage health. With chronic kidney disease (CKD)  making these lifestyle changes can help to slow the progression of kidney disease, reduce the risk of complications, and improve quality of life. In this blog post, let’s explore my top 6 lifestyle changes for kidney disease.

Lifestyle Changes for CKD

1. Follow A Kidney-Friendly Diet

A kidney-friendly diet is one that is personalized to you and can help to reduce the workload on your kidneys and minimize the buildup of waste products in your blood. What you eat and drink is important with CKD because they are filtered through the kidneys. With CKD the kidneys are unable to filter all waste products, so they build up. A diet that helps manage the build up of waste products but also preserve kidney function is often called a renal diet or kidney-friendly diet. The basics of a kidney-friendly diet include:

  • Higher intakes of vegetables and fruit, choosing plant-based proteins as well as legumes, nuts, fish and low-fat dairy, and including whole grains
  • Lower intakes of red and processed meats, sodium, and sugar-sweetened beverages

Each of these eating patterns has the basics of the plate method and we can apply this to every meal and anywhere to help us eat nutritious foods. 

  • Half your plate in vegetables, choose low potassium if needed
  • Quarter plate in protein, choose plant-based more often
  • Quarter plate in carbohydrates or starches, choose whole grains more often (choose low potassium if needed)

Looking for some inspiration for what to eat? Check out my cookbook The Complete Renal Diet Cookbook available on Amazon. 

Perhaps you need some more support with understanding what your kidney-friendly diet may look like. My group program The Kidney Connection is loaded with information and support to help you find foods that fit.

2. Stay Hydrated

Drinking the right amount of fluids is important for kidney health. The right amount depends on your stage and activity level. A renal dietitian or your doctor can let you know how much to consume. Water is the best beverage of choice. But there are some other drinks you can consume. Check out this post for the best drinks for CKD.

3. Get Moving

Regular physical activity can help improve kidney function, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week. Be sure to speak with your doctor before starting any new exercise program. Walking is a great way to get moving, especially with this lovely weather we are having.

4. Stop Smoking

Smoking can damage blood vessels and worsen kidney disease. If you smoke, quitting can help slow the progression of kidney disease and reduce the risk of other health problems. Speak with your doctor or pharmacist for support in smoking cessation.

5. Manage Other Health Conditions And Stress

Conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease can further damage the kidneys. This is also a lifestyle changes for CKD because Proper management of these conditions, including taking medication as prescribed and adopting healthy lifestyle habits, is crucial for kidney health. And many renal dietitians, like me are also certified diabetes educators to help manage diabetes and CKD.

It is almost impossible to completely get rid of stress. But here are some tricks you can use to to manage stress:

  1. Set aside time to relax
  2. Relaxation techniques (yoga, meditation, etc.)
  3. Prayer
  4. Talk to a friend, loved one, spiritual leader, or healthcare professional
  5. Set realistic goals and expectations for your health 
  6. Get enough sleep and maintain a regular sleep schedule
  7. Maintain a positive attitude and outlook
  8. Get support

Finding a community that you can connect with and get support from is important. You are not alone on this journey. Programs like Peer Support with the Kidney Foundation connect you with others who have CKD.

What Does This Mean?

Lifestyle modifications can significantly impact the progression of kidney disease, reduce the risk of complications, and improve quality of life. Following a kidney-friendly diet, staying hydrated, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and managing other health conditions and stress are all important steps to take.

Making lifestyle changes with CKD is important. If you are wondering where to get started. Check out Kidney Nutrition Fast Track or bite size pieces of information to help you preserve your kidney functon. 

Want to learn more about Emily? Learn more here.

Published by Emily Campbell, RD CDE MScFN

Emily Campbell, RD CDE MScFN is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She specializes in renal nutrition helping those with chronic kidney disease. Emily holds a Master's degree in Foods and Nutrition and is a co-chair of the Southern Ontario Canadian Association of Nephrology Dietitians.

2 thoughts on “Lifestyle Changes for CKD

  1. This is a great post on lifestyle changes and a great reminder for all of us with CKD! I have done pretty much everything except I struggle with, and need to work on, stress reducing relaxation techniques. I need to set a 1 hour “me time” for myself every day! It could be reading, listening to music or coloring. Every summer I look forward to going to camp because to me it’s considered a mini vaca! I’m away from stress and I don’t do anything! Haaaaaa!

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