November is Diabetes Awareness Month, an important time to raise awareness about diabetes and its impact on health. Diabetes is a significant risk factor for the development of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). When blood sugar levels are consistently elevated, it can damage the small blood vessels in the kidneys, leading to kidney dysfunction over time. This month serves as a reminder to promote education, prevention, and early intervention. So let’s dive into diabetes and CKD.
Why does diabetes cause CKD?
Diabetes can cause CKD because high levels of sugar in the blood over time can damage the kidneys. This damage makes it harder for the kidneys to filter waste from the blood, which can lead to kidney problems. Managing blood sugar and regular check-ups are important to prevent or slow down this kidney damage and help to manage diabetes and CKD.
Nutrition strategies to manage diabetes and CKD
Managing blood sugar through nutrition is crucial for individuals with diabetes. Here are some basic nutrition strategies to help control blood sugar levels. But feel free to check out foods to eat with diabetes and CKD for more inspiration.
1. Choose Whole Grains: Opt for whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat, quinoa, and oats instead of refined grains like white rice and white bread. Whole grains have more fiber, which helps stabilize blood sugar levels. These foods can and should be included with CKD. Check out this blog post for more information.
2. Fiber-Rich Foods: Foods high in dietary fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans and lentils), and whole grains, can slow down the absorption of sugar and help prevent rapid spikes in blood sugar.
2. Lean Proteins: Include lean sources of protein in your diet, such as poultry, fish, tofu, and plant-based proteins like beans and lentils. Protein can help stabilize blood sugar and promote fullness. But remember with CKD portion size is important.
3. Healthy Fats: Incorporate sources of healthy fats, like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil, into your diet. These fats can help with blood sugar control and overall health.
4. Portion Control: Watch your portion sizes to avoid overeating. Consistency in portion sizes and meal timing can help regulate blood sugar levels.
5. Limit Sugary and Processed Foods: Minimize or avoid foods and beverages with added sugars, as they can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar. Be cautious of sugary drinks, sweets, and processed snacks.
6. Balanced Meals: Aim for balanced meals that include a mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. This can help keep blood sugar levels steady throughout the day.
7. Regular Meals and Snacks: Try to eat regular meals and snacks to prevent large fluctuations in blood sugar. Avoid skipping meals, which can lead to low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
Remember that individual responses to foods can vary, so it’s essential to work with a renal dietitian like those at Kidney Nutrition to develop a personalized nutrition plan that suits your specific needs and helps you manage your blood sugar effectively.
What else can I do to manage diabetes?
Lifestyle factors, including physical activity and stress management, play a significant role in managing blood sugar levels for individuals with diabetes. Here are some key considerations for diabetes and CKD:
- Physical Activity: Regular exercise can help improve insulin sensitivity, which allows your body to use blood sugar more effectively. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, spread over at least 3 days. Include both cardio and strength training exercises to build muscle, which can further aid in blood sugar control. Be sure to speak with your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise routine.
- Stress Management: Chronic stress can lead to elevated blood sugar levels. Finding effective ways to manage stress is essential. Practices like mindfulness meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation can help reduce stress. Ensure you have a strong support system, including friends, family, or support groups, to help you cope with the emotional aspects of managing diabetes.
- Sleep: Getting enough quality sleep is crucial for blood sugar control. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Poor sleep can disrupt hormones that regulate blood sugar and lead to insulin resistance.
- Alcohol and Tobacco: Limit alcohol consumption, as it can affect blood sugar. If you drink, do so in moderation and with food. If you smoke, consider quitting, as smoking can worsen diabetes-related complications.
- Education: Stay informed about diabetes management through reputable sources and educational programs. Knowledge is a powerful tool for self-management.
Remember that lifestyle changes can have a significant impact on blood sugar control, but it’s important to make changes gradually and in consultation with your healthcare team. They can help you tailor a plan that suits your individual circumstances and monitor your progress effectively.
This article was written by Natasha Arabian, Nutrition Student Volunteer.
This article was reviewed by Emily Campbell, RD CDE MScFN.