National Kidney Month

What Can You DO?
Improving Kidney Health Through Diet and Exercise

by Will Mitchell

Did you know that March is National Kidney Month?  According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, it a time to raise awareness about kidney disease.  What better way to raise awareness than to discuss ways to achieve a healthy lifestyle for years to come regardless of a Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) diagnosis.  The following information and recommendations of preventative tactics for health management are meant to provide education to achieve that healthy lifestyle.

Follow The Roadmap To Success To Lower Chronic Kidney Disease Risk Through Lifestyle Modifications. (2021, February 17). NephU.

Chronic Kidney Disease – A breakdown

Roughly 37 million people in the United States have CKD which is about 15% of the population, and 90% do not know they have it.  Impaired kidney function can result in anemia, bone and mineral disorders, cardiovascular disease, hyperglycemia, diabetes, hypertension, and malnutrition.

Incorporation of Healthy Foods

Three of the hardest things for an impaired kidney to control are sodium, potassium, and phosphorus.  We have put together a list of what to avoid and the alternatives.

  • Phosphorus foods to avoid – Dairy, Beans, Lentils, Nuts, Bran Cereal, Oatmeal, Sodas, Iced Teas, Beer.
  • Lower Phosphorus Alternatives – Fresh Fruits, Vegetables, Unenriched Rice Milk, Bread, Pasta, Rice, Fish, Corn and Rice Cereals, Soda without Phosphate additives like Root Beer, Home Brewed Iced Tea.
  • Potassium Rich Foods to Avoid – Honeydew, Cantaloupe, Bananas, Oranges, Tomatoes Tomato Sauce, Dried Beans, Cooked Greens Spinach Kale Collards.
  • Sodium Rich Foods to Avoid – Salt do no use Salt while cooking, Ham, Bacon, Hot Dogs, Lunch Meats, Chicken Tenders, Garlic Salt, Onion Salt, PreSeasoned Meats.
  • Sodium Alternatives and Options – No Salt Added Canned Vegetables, No Salt Added Peanut Butter.

Healthy Cooking Recipes

We know it can be difficult to avoid fast foods, but if you visit under the eating well drop-down menu you can find deliciously healthy recipes. The website has options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Some of the yummy breakfast options include blueberry muffins and stuffed breakfast biscuits. The lunch and dinner options include herb-roasted chicken and bourbon-glazed skirt steak. 

Did you know that techniques such as blanching or boiling remove up to 80% of the unwanted minerals such as sodium? When using frozen or canned goods wash them before cooking to remove excess minerals.

Finding The Ingredients

We challenge you to shop locally and support our local farmers.  Not only does shopping local help so many people, but fresh produce is also a healthier alternative to frozen goods. Where can you get these goods? There are several local farmers’ markets and roadside produce stands available throughout Polk County.  The vendors at these markets are your neighbors and friends providing you with healthy food options and community involvement.

Another option for getting healthier foods is to visit the Lakeland Volunteers In Medicine Mobile Food Pantry twice a month, the second and last Tuesday of the month. Located on 600 W Peachtree St Lakeland 33815 this free supply of food can sustain a healthy diet for weeks. Be sure to arrive by 11 am for registration, food will be distributed from 12 pm – 2 pm. 

Healthy Lifestyle

Choosing to eat better is a huge step in the right direction! Yet more than one approach is needed to deal with CKD. Getting out and walking for at least 30 minutes a week can reduce the need for dialysis or kidney transplants. Other options for exercise include swimming or biking, anything that requires consistent motion is beneficial. 

Another component to a healthy lifestyle is to not smoke. Smoking has been linked to the acceleration of kidney disease, as well as other ailments. A helpful tip to quit smoking is to know why you are addicted. When you are thirsty a signal goes off in your brain telling you to drink water. The addiction to nicotine is similar to the need for water, a signal tells us to smoke because it can reduce stress and anxiety. In order to quit, you must find ways to supplement that need for stress relief. A great supplement for the need to smoke is to exercise. Many people find that exercise has the same effect on stress relief as smoking.

Infographic—National Kidney Month 2021. (2021, March 2). NephU.