Kidney disease can often be prevented! And if you already have kidney disease, you can take steps to keep your kidney damage from getting worse. Even small changes can make a big difference.

Healthy eating

What you eat and drink affects your health. Eating healthy portions of foods that are low in salt and fat help keep you at a healthy weight and a healthy blood pressure. Find simple recipes in Kidney Kitchen, and use these tips to get started: 

  • Eat less sodium
    • Do not add salt to your food when cooking or eating. Try cooking with fresh herbs, lemon juice or spices.
    • Choose fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned. If you do use canned vegetables, rinse them with water before eating or cooking to remove extra salt.
    • Shop for items that say “reduced-sodium” or “low-sodium.” If you have kidney disease, check that these items do not contain potassium instead of salt.
    • Do not eat processed foods, such as frozen dinners and lunch meats.
    • Limit fast food and salty snacks, such as chips, pretzels and salted nuts.
    • Limit foods that are pickled or preserved, such as pickles and olives.
  • Eat less fat
    • Choose lean meats, like chicken, turkey or fish. Remove the skin and trim the fat off your meats before you cook them.
    • Bake, grill or broil your foods instead of frying them
    • Shop for fat-free or low-fat dairy products, salad dressing and mayonnaise
    • Try olive or canola oil instead of vegetable oil
    • Choose egg whites or egg substitute instead of whole eggs

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Being active

Being active can help you stay healthy and:

  • Lose weight
  • Keep a healthy blood sugar level
  • Improve your heart and lung health
  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Lower your total cholesterol level and increase your HDL (“good” cholesterol) level

Set a goal to be active for at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week. 

If that seems like too much, start slowly and work your way up. You do not have to go to the gym! Try adding just a little more activity to your routine, such as:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Go for a walk after dinner
  • Look for fun activities that you enjoy, like dancing, swimming or playing a sport

Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any exercise plan. Your doctor can help you learn what exercises are safe for you, how often you should exercise and how long your exercise sessions should last.

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Limiting alcohol and tobacco

Drinking alcohol in large amounts can make your blood pressure go up, which can lead to kidney disease. By drinking less, you can help keep your blood pressure under control. Here are healthy guidelines:

  • For men, no more than two drinks per day
  • For women, no more than one drink per day

 Do not smoke or use tobacco. Using tobacco (smoking or chewing) can make high blood pressure and kidney problems worse. It also causes many other serious health problems such as cancer, heart disease and stroke. If you use tobacco, quitting can help lower your chance of getting kidney disease or help prevent your kidney disease from getting worse. Ask your doctor for help quitting.

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Working with your doctor

Caring for your health takes teamwork and you are the team captain! Think of your doctors, nurses, technicians, dietitians and any other health care professionals as members of your team. As team captain, it is your job to communicate well with your team to make sure you are getting the best possible care. Learn more about how to prepare for your next doctor’s appointment.

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