Nearly, 1 out of 7 (~15%) United States (US) adults have Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). The disease is most prevalent in those ages 65 and greater. The disease develops progressively and many individuals effected do not realize they have it until the first hospitalization. CKD contributes to anemia, diabetes, low bone mineral density (increased bone fracture), nephrotic syndrome, heart disease, high blood pressure, and increased frequency of hospitalizations. Kidney Disease requires dietary treatment and/or medical treatment (dialysis) to maintain health.
Kidney disease is measured based on the ability of the kidneys to filter nutrients and waste called Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR). GFR (kidney function) does not come back after being lost, but GFR can be retained with age through healthy food choices, weight maintenance, regular physical activity, proper amount of sleep, smoking cessation, limiting alcohol intake, and reducing stress. A GFR of 60-120 is normal. A GFR between 15-60 falls within the stages of kidney disease. Typically, individuals are oblivious to CKD until the stage of Kidney Failure (KF) is achieved. KF is defined by a GFR level of 0-15. At the level of KF, individuals will require dietary modification, dialysis, and/or a kidney transplant in order to avoid undesirable symptoms associated with CKD.
Once achieved, KF will not resolve on its own. People with KF typically must undergo dialysis multiple times each week to manage blood nutrient/waste levels; however, the frequency of dialysis required can be reduced by receiving and utilizing education on appropriate dietary choices/lifestyle modification for CKD in combination with care from their healthcare team. Additionally, care for CKD varies by the individual based on their lab test results and preferences.
In terms of dietary management: Sodium, Potassium, Phosphorus, and Protein are typical nutrients of concern. These nutrients are all filtered by the kidneys. Excess levels of these nutrients in the body can cause life threatening consequences. Depending on the individual’s lab tests, the individual may only have one of these nutrients to be concerned about; however, it is possible that all of these nutrients may be of concern. A doctor must closely monitor test results to determine what nutrients and the amount of each nutrient an individual should shoot for each day. A dietitian can assist the individual in selecting the appropriate food choices to meet those needs.
CKD is more common than one might think. There are many reasons to monitor and prevent the progression of this disease. If you have any questions about CKD, please reach out! Otherwise, contact your doctor and dietitian to create a diet and lifestyle plan that works best for you!