Diet and Lifestyle Can Play a Role in Helping Manage CKD


31 Aug Diet and Lifestyle Can Play a Role in Helping Manage CKD

Your diet and lifestyle can play a role in helping to manage CKD. The plant-based diet is just one of several diet and lifestyle interventions that may help patients with CKD or diabetic kidney disease and individuals at risk for the development of those conditions.


Duane Sunworld, a chef and instructor at a culinary school was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD). He discovered that he had gained 60 pounds from the medications he was taking and his creatinine level reached 4.9 mg/dL, just short of the requirement for dialysis. It was only when he began following a plant-based diet that he started feeling better.


What does it mean to follow a plant-based diet?

Sunwold chose to adopt a plant-based diet, replacing proteins from animal products with plant-based proteins. Examples of complete plant-based proteins are quinoa, chia, or hemp seed, and legumes and grains.


Are there complications with pursuing this type of diet?

Kam Kalantar-Zadeh, MD, MPH, PhD, the professor of medicine and chief of nephrology at the University of California, recommends that kidney disease patients try to get 50% or more of their protein from plants. He also explains that it is important to know how much protein patients eat because too much protein can put a strain on the kidneys.


In this study, he recommends that those at risk for kidney disease should avoid high-protein diets involving more than 1 gram per kilogram per day and that those with kidney disease adopt lower-protein diets in the range of 0.6 to 0.8 gram per kilogram per day.


What kind of lifestyle is recommended for CKD patients?

Increased activity can be a helpful lifestyle change for patients with kidney disease or those at risk. Many patients with CKD or diabetes have poor muscle tone and function, in part because of their condition. They may also struggle with fatigue. Both of these conditions can make starting an exercise regimen difficult.


Srinivasan Beddhu, MD, professor of internal medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine suggests that patients start with muscle-strengthening activities and try to do them at least 5 to 10 minutes a day. He said it is also important to decrease sedentary activities and to be as active as possible, which has been shown to reduce the risk of mortality in both CKD patients and the general population.


The most important thing, Kalantar-Zadeh said, is to customize lifestyle and diet to fit an individual patient’s needs and preferences. This includes taking into account their condition, preferences, and goals.


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