Our kidneys are vital for our everyday health. Kidneys serve an important function – they work daily to remove waste and excess fluid from your body, while maintaining a healthy balance of water and minerals like phosphorus, calcium, and others. When your kidneys don’t function properly, it throws your entire system out of whack. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a condition that occurs when your kidneys become damaged or cannot filter blood as they should. Incredibly prevalent, CKD affects nearly 37 million Americans nationwide; however, many Americans remain undiagnosed.
Kidney disease progresses in multiple different stages and has virtually no signs or symptoms, which leads many people undiagnosed until the disease worsens. In fact, according to the CDC, 40 percent of people with severely reduced kidney function are not aware they have CKD. Easier to treat in its early stages, healthcare providers across the globe are raising awareness for CKD in hopes of preventing kidney failure and CKD –related diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure.
One way to slow the progression of CKD is through dietary and lifestyle changes.. Working with a registered dietitian to adopt a kidney-friendly diet is one way to drastically reduce the progression of CKD. Those with risk factors for CKD including heart disease, obesity, and family history might want to see a dietitian regarding their kidney health sooner rather than later. While a kidney-healthy diet can slow the progression of CKD, it can’t reverse the damage already done to the kidneys.
“Making small diet changes can help slow the progression of the disease,” said Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator, Gale Pearson of TPMG Nutrition Services in Newport News.
Those with CKD or those with risk factors should look for diets low in sodium and make sure their protein intake is not excessive. Many online “healthy” diets are low-carb and protein-heavy. While that may work for some people, those with CKD require a different approach to eating. In addition to cutting back on sodium and maintaining a healthy amount of protein, those with declining kidney function also need to pay attention to their potassium and phosphorous intake.
Determining the proper parameters for your diet with CKD can be challenging, especially with conflicting reports on the internet and amongst friends about what might be considered “healthy.” Many people at risk for CKD and those with CKD need the help of a registered dietitian to understand their options when it comes to food. Working with a dietitian can help expand your food options, rather than diminish them. Some people assume a dietitian will only tell you what you can’t eat, when, in reality, a dietitian will help you discover all the things you can eat within the parameters of your unique health circumstances. Many people with chronic conditions like CKD assume there is only a limited variety of food available for them to eat and a dietitian’s job is to expand that understanding.
An unhealthy diet could worsen the progression of CKD. If you have Chronic Kidney Disease or are at risk for developing CKD, don’t delay seeking help from a registered dietitian to find a diet that’s right for you. Make an appointment today with a registered dietitian with TPMG Nutrition Services and start on the path towards a healthier lifestyle.
About Gale Pearson, MS, RDN, CDCES
Gale Pearson, MS, RDN, CDCES is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with over 25 years of experience working with patients on dietary and nutrition wellness planning. Gale received her undergraduate degree from Hampton University and her Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from Howard University.
With extensive experience in nutrition counseling, Gale works with her patients to develop strategies to improve their eating habits and lifestyles, in turn helping them to manage their weight and medical conditions. She credits witnessing her patients’ symptoms and overall health improvement as a result of the lifestyle changes as one of the most gratifying and rewarding aspects of her career.
At TPMG Nutrition Services in Newport News and Williamsburg, Gale provides one-on-one consultations, nutrition and weight management counseling, and diabetes education.