How to Prevent Kidney Disease: 10 Tips That Could Save Your Life!

youtube-video-thumbnail

Today we're talking about how to prevent kidney disease, 10 tips that could save your life. I'm a board-certified nephrologist, which means I'm a kidney specialist. Taking care of kidney patients is what I do day in and day out. One of the toughest things about my job is when I have a patient with kidney failure, and I'm starting that patient on dialysis for reasons I know could have been prevented.

Over 30 million Americans have kidney disease and most don't even know it. One in three is at risk, and yes, many of the causes of kidney disease are preventable. We know that diabetes and high blood pressure are the leading causes of kidney disease, and these are two illnesses that are potentially preventable and certainly manageable, but there is also a list longer than my arm of other causes. For example, did you know that dehydration could lead to kidney failure? Or taking excessive amounts of certain pain medications? Many of the lifestyle choices you make can lead to kidney disease. So, today, let's be proactive. Let's have a conversation on kidney disease prevention.

 

10 Tips On How To Prevent Kidney Disease

1. Know Your Family History

Something that I have learned over the years as a kidney doctor is that our secrets make us sick. Many of the kidney diseases that people have actually run in families, and if you know that you have a family history, then you'll be more likely to be proactive. You'll go to the doctor, and you'll be screened to find out if you have signs of kidney disease, have protein in your urine, or if you have high blood pressure. Also, some of the diseases that run in our families can be preventable or at least manageable.

 

how to prevent kidney disease know your family history

 

For example, if diabetes runs in your family, well, we know that maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent diabetes. Having a low-carb diet can help to prevent diabetes. If high blood pressure runs in your family, you know that there are certain things that you can do to manage your high blood pressure to prevent kidney disease. Then there are other genetic causes such as autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD), and this is something that, if you know early on about it, there are things we can do to slow down the progression. A lot of people have the attitude of, "What happens in my house stays in my house," but again, our secrets make us sick. Talk to your family, be proactive, and know your family history.

 

2. Get Regular Check-Ups

It is so important that you see your physician or healthcare provider on a regular basis. Do you know why? Because when you get your routine histories and physicals, and your doctor is actually screening you for kidney disease. I have so many patients who have developed kidney failure and they're shocked, and they say, you know, "I never had any problems with my kidneys." I always made good urine. "I didn't have any symptoms."

 

how to prevent kidney disease

 

Well, guess what? The most common symptom of early kidney disease is nothing. You can be asymptomatic, but if you get regular checkups, then your doctor can do certain blood work, and certain urine work. They can find out about things in your history that will let them know that you have the potential to develop kidney disease, and guess what? You can prevent it, so be proactive. Get regular checkups and be sure to watch my video on seven early warning signs and symptoms of kidney problems after you finish reading this article.

 

3. Stay Well Hydrated

Now, this is a little-known fact, but dehydration is actually a cause of kidney failure. I have had to dialyze countless numbers of patients just from severe dehydration, so make sure that you drink plenty of water, and stay well hydrated. Consult with your physician to find out how much hydration is appropriate for you, but by drinking that water, you help your kidneys to flush out excess toxins and excess waste products.

 

4. Limit NSAID Use

Limit NSAIDs or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil, Aleve, naproxen, Celebrex, and meloxicam. These medications, if used in excess, can certainly lead to kidney disease, and even if they're not used in excess, if you're someone who already has kidney disease or if your kidneys are vulnerable to kidney disease, then NSAIDs can actually make that kidney disease worse.

 

how to stop kidney disease limit nsaid use

 

Now, certainly, NSAIDs have their place. They are wonderful anti-inflammatory drugs, but you need to consult with your physician to find out if NSAIDs are safe for you. And, if they are, make sure you use them as directed and that you are well-hydrated when taking the NSAIDs. I have had many patients whom I have had to dialyze due to NSAID nephropathy or kidney disease caused by excess NSAID use. Just because a medication is over the counter does not mean it is safe for you. Consult with your physician and limit NSAID use to prevent kidney disease.

 

5. Avoid Smoking and Limit Alcohol Consumption

Smoking Cigarettes

When it comes to smoking cigarettes, if you look at multiple diseases, you'll find smoking on the list of risk factors. Smoking can increase your risk for lung cancer, COPD, emphysema, skin cancer, heart disease, cervical cancer, and yes, smoking can increase your risk for kidney disease. Smoking alters your blood vessels and damages them, and it can decrease the vascular flow to your kidneys. So, you definitely want to avoid smoking cigarettes.

 

avoid smoking and limit alcohol consumption

 

Drinking alcohol

Drinking alcohol in excess can also increase your risk for kidney disease. High alcohol consumption can lead to hypertension and other disease processes, which can ultimately lead to kidney failure.

 

6. Exercise Regularly and Maintain a Healthy Diet

Now, this may seem like obvious advice, but you would be amazed to know how many patients over the years I have watched improve their kidney function just by taking this advice. When you put in regular physical activity and you maintain a healthy diet, this helps you maintain a healthy weight and improve your overall cardiovascular health, which, of course, is great for your kidneys.

You want to make sure that you follow the advice of the American Heart Association, which recommends that you exercise at least 150 minutes per week with moderate exercise. That works out to be about 30 minutes of exercise five times a week. Make sure you consult with your physician, and eat foods that help to repair the kidneys. Avoid foods that are high in saturated fats. Avoid high-sodium foods and ultra-processed foods. You want to eat lots of fruits and vegetables. You want to eat foods that have whole grains and lean proteins. Be sure to watch my video on nine surprising foods that help to repair your kidneys after you finish reading this article.

 

managing high blood pressure with medication

 

7. Control Your Blood Pressure

Now, this is a big one, since we know that high blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney failure, you want to work with your physician and your healthcare provider to make sure that you're monitoring your blood pressure properly, and that you're doing everything to maintain a normal blood pressure. You want to do so with proper diet, proper exercise, lifestyle changes, and medications, when necessary. Now, here's something that's really key. A lot of patients will come into my office and they'll be like, "Doc, I want to do this holistically. "I don't want any medications," but here's the thing: If you walk into my office and your blood pressure is 185 over 110, well, then more likely than not, I'm going to start a blood pressure medication because I don't want to wait three months or six months for all the lifestyle changes to kick in because, in the meantime, you'll be at a very high risk of having kidney disease or worsening kidney failure. So oftentimes we have to have an integrated approach. We will implement lifestyle changes, and when necessary, start medications, because guess what? As the lifestyle modifications kick in, and the blood pressure lowers due to natural measures, then we can peel back the medications as needed. Again, make sure you consult with your physician, and you control your blood pressure in order to prevent kidney disease.

 

High Blood Pressure Book Widget

 

8. Reduce Your Stress

I know that sounds easier said than done because we all have stress in our lives and some stressors are difficult to control, but having a stress-reduced life can be a matter of life or death because when you have high stress levels, this causes your cortisol to surge, it causes your adrenaline to surge, and these things cause your blood vessels to tighten, and it worsens your blood pressure. We know that having worsened blood pressure or hypertension can lead to kidney disease, so reducing your stress can help prevent kidney disease. I have a freebie for you that will help you to reduce your stress and stay healthy overall, 10 healthy habits for a better you and a better life. Click the link to download this free PDF.

 

9. Maintain Normal Cholesterol Levels

If you have elevated cholesterol or dyslipidemia, this can lead to plaques in your arteries or blockages, specifically in your kidney arteries, which can decrease the blood flow to your kidneys and cause kidney disease, so you want to make sure you have low bad cholesterol, so that's a low LDL, low triglycerides, and you can do so by making sure that you exercise, maintain a healthy weight, and avoid eating foods that are loaded with saturated fats. You also want to be sure that you know your family history to make sure that you don't have something called familial hypercholesterolemia in your family, which can predispose you to high cholesterol.

 

blood sugar levels

 

10. Maintain Normal Blood Sugar Levels

This is so important. You want to make sure you have normal glucose, and you try to avoid having diabetes or certainly manage diabetes if you have it. We know that diabetes is the number one cause of kidney failure, so maintaining those normal blood sugar levels and having a normal hemoglobin A1C is going to be key in preventing the progression of kidney disease. You want to avoid added sugar. You want to avoid ultra-processed foods. You want to make sure that you maintain a healthy weight and you certainly want to follow up with your physician in a regular fashion to maintain normal blood sugar levels.

 

Conclusion

These tips that I have just shared with you on how to prevent kidney disease are based on my life experience as a board-certified nephrologist, and a kidney specialist. I'm telling you what I know, not what I've heard, and I want you to understand that it starts with you. I want you to prioritize prevention.

Don't wait until you get symptoms of kidney disease or wait until your doctor tells you, "Oh, it looks like you have kidney failure." I want you to go and get your checkups in a regular fashion and make sure that you catch anything early on. More importantly, that you do the right lifestyle modifications, so that you can prevent kidney disease.

I also want you to commit to awareness. Make sure that you educate yourself on ways to prevent kidney disease and educate others. Starting with this article and video. Start small, take baby steps, and give yourself grace.

Posted in

Dr. Frita - Frita McRae Fisher, M.D.

Leave a Comment