6 Ways People With Type 2 Diabetes Can Boost Kidney Health
Last updated: April 2023
People with type 2 diabetes are at greater risk of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD). As many as 1 in 3 people with diabetes will develop kidney disease. But there are steps you can take to help keep your kidneys healthy and monitor your kidney health.1
1. Stay well hydrated
Staying well-hydrated is key for kidney health. The hydrating liquids you drink, especially water, help the kidneys function properly to remove waste from your blood.
Staying hydrated also helps your kidneys produce urine so the kidneys can flush that waste from the body. Severe dehydration can lead to permanent kidney damage. Drinking water throughout the day is a simple way to stay hydrated.
2. Monitor blood pressure and heart health
Blood pressure levels and heart health are directly tied to proper kidney function. High blood pressure and poor blood circulation can lead to kidney damage, so it's important to monitor blood pressure regularly.1
Another critical function of the kidneys is to produce a hormone that regulates blood pressure. When not enough blood circulates to the kidneys (due to blood pressure or heart problems), the kidneys release a hormone that raises blood pressure to bring back balance. If the body gets caught in this loop - constantly releasing hormones to balance blood pressure - it stresses the kidneys, disrupting their function and causing damage.
3. Focus on nutrition
Not surprisingly, what you eat can support your kidneys. Eating foods with too many things like sodium, fat, sugar, or protein puts stress on the kidneys, undermining their function and causing damage. Balance is key!
Following a well-balanced eating plan will ensure no undue stress on the kidneys. A kidney-friendly balanced diet comprises foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and low/non-fat dairy. Consulting a registered dietitian can be a great resource if you want to enhance your kidney health with nutrition.
4. Prioritize some physical activity
Exercise and movement help the body stay strong and support healthy organs, including the kidneys. Regular physical activity can strengthen the heart and help stabilize blood pressure and glucose levels. Regular exercise can also improve sleep. All of these things support kidney health.
5. Manage stress levels
Stress, especially when it becomes distressed, adversely affects how the organs in the body function.
When stress prompts a physical response, sometimes referred to as the fight-or-flight response, your body's actions can trigger changes in blood pressure, heart function, and diabetes. These reactions put pressure on the kidneys and disrupt how well they function. Over time, the pressure on the kidneys from stress can lead to kidney damage.
Develop effective ways for coping with stress. These essential but often overlooked self-care practices can include everything from mentally reframing your situation to physical exercise and getting a good night's sleep.
6. Get regular kidney screenings
The earlier kidney problems are identified, the better the prognosis.
A kidney screening often requires a simple blood draw and urine sample. The blood sample is checked for creatinine, a waste product generated by muscle tissue, and your GFR (glomerular filtration rate) is calculated from the result. Urine is checked for the presence of albumin, and your ACR (albumin-to-creatinine ratio) is calculated based on the results.
Talk with your doctor about including a kidney health screening as part of your annual checkup.
Regular self-care benefits diabetes and kidney health
While people with type 2 diabetes face a higher risk of developing kidney disease, there are things you can do to counter that risk.
All the suggested actions above dovetail easily with the daily self-care needed to manage diabetes. It can feel like a bonus knowing that as you manage your diabetes, you also support your kidney health.
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