As a diabetic, you are more than aware of the importance of maintaining your blood glucose levels. You have been warned by your doctor countless times of the importance of regular snacks and finger pricks to make sure that there are no spikes or plummets in your blood sugar. Has anyone ever explained why?
The truth is, there are a myriad of reasons to control your blood sugar levels. While the neurologist, optometrist, and cardiologist could all argue their cases, I will simply give you the gist, minus the neuro and cardio, of why controlling your blood sugar can help you lead a better and longer life. This brings me to the all-important kidney.
Your kidneys have seen and done it all. Kidneys are responsible for removing drugs, toxins, and waste from your body, regulating your fluid balance, releasing hormones that help monitor blood pressure, and producing vitamin D and red blood cells (“How” 2013). Literally, when it comes to your kidneys, they leave no stone unturned, which is why it’s painful when they begin to fail.
Kidney disease can be described in two different ways: acute or chronic (Denny 2013). A diabetic is most concerned with chronic, or the irreversible and increasingly worsening disease that leads to kidney failure. Chronic kidney disease is commonly caused by poorly controlled diabetes and/or high blood pressure (“How” 2013).
Keeping your kidneys healthy relies on one incredibly crucial factor: maintaining your blood sugar. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, and that’s precisely the problem. When your blood gets too sweet, you are started on a pathway that leads to renal disease.
To help your kidneys continue to function as long as possible, a registered dietitian can help by using medical nutrition therapy to examine your lifestyle and eating habits to create a personalized nutrition treatment plan (“How” 2013). To prevent and lower your risk for kidney disease, in addition to keeping control of your blood sugar, you should stay physically fit and monitor your blood pressure.
Exercise lowers blood pressure and helps your blood sugar (“Lower” 2012). Exercise also helps increase blood flow, which is especially helpful to your kidney. As mentioned above, chronic kidney disease is commonly caused by poor maintenance of blood sugar and/or high blood pressure. If you already struggle with blood sugar maintenance, high blood pressure just puts even more pressure on your kidneys.
In general, individuals with kidney disease need to follow a diet that pays most attention to protein, sodium, and potassium (“How” 2013). Protein has many functions throughout the body, but most importantly, it helps repair and maintain the cells in your body in addition to providing energy (“Kidney” 2012). When your kidneys start to fail, they can’t handle as much protein. In order to satisfy your energy requirements, look to fat and carbohydrates, then consume limited protein for the sole purpose of building and repairing your cells.
Sodium and potassium don’t play havoc necessarily on your kidneys directly, but because your kidneys aren’t filtering as well, the levels will rise, and affect other organs. Sodium raises your blood pressure and causes you to retain fluids. If you consume extra sodium, fluid can build up in your body, which has a detrimental effect on your heart and lungs. Potassium is deadly in high amounts in your body. If your kidneys are not working well, your potassium levels will rise, which has an effect on your heart rhythm.
“Kidney Disease and Diet.” EatRight.Org. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dec. 2012. Web. 26 Jan. 2014. .
“Lower Your Risk for Kidney Disease.” Eatright.org. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dec. 2012. Web. 26 Jan. 2014. .
“How an RDN Can Help with Kidney Disease.” EatRight.Org. Ed. Sharon Denny. N.p., Jan. 2013. Web. 26 Jan. 2014. .
Vesely, D. L., and D. H. Mintz. “Acute Renal Failure in Insulin-Dependent Diabetics: Episodes Secondary to Intravenous Pyelography.” Archives of Internal Medicine 138.12 (1978): 1858-859. Print.