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Tips to Prevent Kidney Disease

Tips to Prevent Kidney Disease 

Lesley McPhatter

By: Lesley McPhatter, MS, RDN, CSR, Assistant Clinical Nutrition Manager – Renal Nutrition at UVA Health System

Did you know that cardiovascular death is the number one cause of death in chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients? Back in 2020, the National Kidney Foundation Quality Guidelines for Nutrition were updated to recommend a healthier plant-based, whole foods diet for people with CKD. Since then, our nutrition team at UVA Health has transitioned our Renal Diet to encompass a heart-healthy diet. This switch has allowed for a greater variety of food offerings for our CKD patients without compromising their nutrition status.

In honor of World Kidney Day (March 10th, 2022), I wanted to share some tips I would give anyone to help prevent kidney disease:

  1. Try eating plant-based – A plant-based diet is when the food you eat is primarily from plants. This includes fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. I know having a plant-based diet is not ideal for everyone, so if that’s you, make it a goal to try eating 1 plant-based meal a week, and then maybe get to the point where you’re eating 1 plant-based meal a day.
  2. Eat whole foods  A whole food diet consists of eating unprocessed or unrefined foods including grains, nuts, seeds, fruit, and vegetables. Whole foods have little to no preservatives or additives.
  3. Monitor phosphorus levels  Avoid dark sodas, highly processed convenience, boxed or frozen meals, fast foods, and meats with additives – these items contain phosphorus as an additive, which may accelerate the loss of kidney function if not avoided.
  4. Low protein diet – The updated guidelines recommend a stricter protein restriction but any decrease in protein intake may help protect kidney function. Most of us eat twice as much protein as we need.
  5. Lower your sodium intake – Skip the saltshaker as this can raise blood pressure and increase fluid retention.
  6. Control blood sugar if you are diabetic. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the top two causes of kidney disease. Controlling these components of your diet and taking medications as recommended will help protect the kidneys.
  7. All foods fit (in moderation) – We want to give our patients palatable enjoyable meals, and I will tell you the same. Anything is ok in moderation!

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