2016 News

Managing Kidney Disease

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By VHA

Eating well and regular exercise are key players for maintaining a well-balanced and healthy lifestyle. This is especially true for those who have chronic kidney disease (CKD). If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with CKD, it is critical that a healthy diet and regular physical activity are part of the treatment plan. If you are caring for someone with chronic kidney disease the tips below on healthy eating and exercise can help you help your loved one better manage their kidney health.

Healthy Eating

Unfortunately, there is no ‘standard’ diet for people with kidney disease. Age, medical history and stage of kidney function all determine your specific dietary needs. It’s very important to meet with a dietitian to help you or your loved one make dietary changes and understand what food choices are best. You should ask the doctor or local Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) for a referral. With help from a dietitian a daily eating plan can help you or your loved one meet nutritional needs, decrease the workload of the kidneys, reduce symptoms and allow you or your loved one to enjoy your meals.

A dietitian can help to:<//h4>

  • Follow a low sodium diet to control blood pressure.
  • Find the right balance of energy foods to keep active.
  • Control protein intake to maintain a healthy weight and boost the immune system.
  • Balance potassium levels to ensure nerves and muscles are working well.
  • Limit foods with phosphorus for joint, bone and skin health.
  • Manage fluids to keep properly hydrated.
  • Select vitamin and mineral supplements for diet enhancement.
  • Active Lifestyle

An active lifestyle will significantly improve physical and mental health helping to:

  • Lose or manage weight.
  • Keep bones strong and prevent bone loss, which is a problem for many dialysis patients.
  • Strengthen muscles.
  • Improve blood pressure control.
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
  • Boost energy levels.

The goal should be to complete at least 45 to 60 minutes of activity, four to five times per week. This amount of exercise is the guideline recommended for the prevention and treatment of high blood pressure, which affects 95 per cent of people with kidney disease. This may vary depending on your kidney function and treatment plan. Of course, any changes to an exercise plan should be discussed with a doctor.

Start with five to ten minutes of comfortable activity each day, gradually building up to the goal. The key is to make a plan and choose enjoyable activities like dance, gardening, fitness classes or simple stretches.

By using this information and connecting with the right health care professionals, you or your loved one can learn how to manage kidney disease, prevent further damage and stay healthy longer.