Tips for Optimal Kidney Health

In this article we cover:

  • The importance of kidney health

  • Risk factors for decreased kidney health

  • Tips for optimal kidney health


Why is kidney health important?

If you prefer to learn through video rather than the written word, check out this video resource for understanding more about chronic kidney disease and polycystic kidney disease.


Santa Barbara Nutrients YouTube Channel is the home of science-based content on managing PKD. Their YouTube channel features expert interviews, customer success stories and informative analyses of current research.The kidneys are two small organs located in your abdomen. Your kidneys filter blood resulting in (1): 

  • Removal of waste and excess water from your blood (urine) 

  • Normal balance of sodium, calcium, phosphorus and potassium 

  • Healthy blood pressure 

  • Healthy bones through the regulation of vitamin D, calcium and phosphorous

A disruption in any of these processes can seriously impact quality of life. Therefore, considering kidney health is something we can all do to boost overall health.



What are some of the major risk factors for decreased kidney health?

  • High blood pressure

  • High blood sugar 

  • Genetic inheritance 

  • Family history of chronic kidney disease

  • Damage to the kidney caused by illness, medication or physical injury 

Left untreated, these risk factors may contribute to the onset of chronic kidney disease (CKD). CKD may result in decreased kidney function and potentially kidney failure (2).

How do I know if I’m having problems with my kidneys?

People with early stages of kidney disease may not have any symptoms. Some signs and symptoms include painful urination, blood in urine, intense thirst and urge to urinate, and swelling. Talk to your doctor about blood tests that can assess your kidney health.

Tips for optimal kidney health

There is no cure for CKD but there are things you can do to support kidney health.

Get to know sodium

Sodium, found in salt, is not inherently bad (3). The mineral supports food safety as a preservative and keeps our nerves and muscles working properly. 


However, when excess sodium in our diets accumulates in our blood, our risk for hypertension increases. Hypertension strains the heart and kidneys, ultimately increasing risk of chronic disease. 


Here’s how to manage sodium levels:


  • Get your blood pressure checked on a regular basis (4).


  • The general recommendation is to keep your sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day. However, several clinical studies have shown that high dietary sodium intake is especially detrimental for people with chronic kidney disease, including PKD. Therefore, the American Heart Association recommends even lower limits (less than 1,500 mg per day), and this amount may be further reduced for people with more advanced polycystic kidney disease.

Manage blood sugar levels 

Elevated blood sugar makes the kidneys work harder and can lead to renal damage, resulting in increased risk for CKD (5). 


Tips for managing blood sugar levels: 


  • Work with your registered dietitian to understand proper blood sugar management if you have diabetes or pre-diabetes.

  • Limit added sugar in: Sodas, juices, candies, pastries, desserts, anything with high fructose corn syrup. Make sure to read the food labels in order to determine how much sugar is in the food you are eating. Another tip is to replace sugar with natural sweeteners such as stevia or monk.

Find exercise you love 

Regular exercise (150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week) supports kidney health because it can:

  • Boost mental health when dealing with chronic disease

  • Support a healthy-for-you body weight

  • Help regulate the release of insulin for healthy blood sugar management

  • Lower blood pressure

Eat more plants 

A balanced diet abundant in plant-based foods that are low in sodium, high in fiber, low in saturated fat and rich in vitamins and minerals is a great way to boost kidney health.

If you currently have CKD, talk to your dietitian about how kidney friendly variations on plant based diets can support your nutrition goals. 

A balanced diet can also support healthy blood cholesterol levels which lowers your risk for heart disease. Remember to get your cholesterol and triglycerides checked on a regular basis. 

Stay hydrated

Dehydration negatively affects kidney health and may even increase risk for chronic kidney disease (6). Drink enough unsweetened beverages to keep your urine pale yellow to clear. 

If you have CKD, talk to your renal dietitian about your liquid intake.

Other considerations for kidney health

Learn more about tips for improving kidney health here

Disclaimer: this post is for educational and informational purposes only. Consult a medical professional for individualized advice. 


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