Kidney Disease Prevention
Healthy eating plays an important role in reducing the risk of getting chronic kidney disease (CKD). Overweight and obese populations are at greater risk of getting obesity-related chronic diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, Hypertension and Hyperlipidemia. These obesity-related diseases can eventually lead to many serious complications including cardiovascular diseases and CKD. Therefore, let’s start a healthy eating habit to protect your kidneys.
Consuming the right amount of calories (energy) helps you achieve a healthy body weight. Maintaining a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 18.5-22.9kg/m2 can reduce your risk of getting obesity-related chronic diseases including kidney failure.
Avoid unhealthy weight fluctuations:
Healthy eating includes a diet that is/has:
- Low in sodium (salt)
- Low in fat especially saturated fat
- Low in dietary cholesterol
- Minimise trans fat
- High in dietary fibre and whole grains
Tips of healthy eating
A lot of Singapore’s residents are eating out every day. Healthy eating is possible by following the guide below:
- Remove the poultry’s skin and fat before eating
- Ask for less oil, less salt and less gravy in your food
- Replace fried noodles with soup noodles
- Ask for healthier drinks like “siu dai”/”kosong”, choose “no sugar added” packaged drinks or packaged drinks with the Healthier Choice symbols or take plain water instead of sweet drinks
- Cut down consumption of fried food and high fat food to twice a week
- Reduce frequency of fast food consumption
- Do not add extra cheese to your pizza or spaghetti
- Ask for brown rice instead of white rice or flavoured rice
- Share your meal if the food portion is large
It is a lot easier to practice healthy eating if you cook at home or eat home-cooked food. Cultivate healthy cooking habits:
- Reduce the amount of salt and seasoning used
- Use low fat cooking method like steaming, boiling, stewing, grilling, baking, stir-fried with less oil.
- Enhance the flavour of food by using herbs, spices, lemon juice or vinegar instead of salt, seasoning, butter, margarine, lard and shortening.
- Use healthier cooking oil
- Use brown rice or wholemeal noodle
- Remove poultry’s skin and trim off the visible fat before cooking
- Use sugar and fat spread sparingly (butter, margarine, peanut butter, kaya, jam)
- Read the ingredients list of the product
- Compare the nutrition information panel between similar products
- Choose products with the Healthier Choice symbols
Hypertension and CKD
High blood pressure damages kidneys over time. Keeping your blood pressure under control can protect your kidneys and prevent kidney failure. Healthy eating plays an important role in preventing hypertension and keeping blood pressure in good control.
You may follow these simple dietary guidelines to make a positive change in your health.
1. Shake the salt habit
- Taste your food before adding any seasoning. Your food might already have enough flavour and will not require any additional seasoning.
- Do not add additional salt to cooked food.
- Use less salt when cooking. Use herbs, lemon, ginger, garlic, pepper or other spices to add flavour to your food. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is also a form of salt and should be used sparingly.
- Cut down on seasoning when cooking, and sauces contain high amounts of salt.
- Avoid foods that are high in sodium, such as canned food ham, bacon, sausages, fast food, salted snacks (nuts and chips), pickled vegetables and salted fish.
2. Reduce fats and cholesterol
- Steam, grill, stew, bake, boil or stir-fry your food
- Avoid fatty meat and use leaner meats or fish.
- Remove the skin from chicken or duck before cooking.
- Consume less coconut milk, egg yolk and animal innards such as liver and brain as they are high in cholesterol.
- Limit foods that are high in cholesterol; do not consume more than 2-3 eggs per week.
- Use more polyunsaturated fats like soya bean, corn, sunflower or sesame oil when cooking.
3. Go green – have more fibre
- Include 2 portions of fruits and 2 portions of vegetables in your diet everyday
- Take whole grains, for example, wholemeal bread in place of white bread
- Select wholemeal biscuits or fresh fruits for snacks and desserts.
4. Do not bottoms-up
- Limit yourself to one alcoholic drink per day
Read more about Hypertension.
Diabetes and CKD
For better health outcomes, it is important for diabetic patients to maintain normal blood sugar level by controlling carbohydrate intake. Having well-controlled blood sugar levels help to slow down the progression of Diabetes Nephropathy (kidney failure caused by diabetes). High blood sugar level increases the workload of the kidneys in filtering the blood. The kidneys will start to damage and leak out useful protein from the body after prolonged period of poor sugar control. Therefore, you should seek help from your dietitian and doctor for diabetic management.
Carbohydrate is one of the major nutrients that our body requires. It is broken down into glucose during digestion which will affect the blood sugar level if taken in excess. Carbohydrates should be taken in appropriate amounts for optimal blood sugar control and adequate nutrient intake. Do not avoid them completely, as they provide energy, vitamins, minerals and fibre, which are vital for good health.
Carbohydrate can be found from the below food group:
- Cereals and starch like rice, noodle, pasta, bread, biscuit, chapatti, tosei, kuehs
- Starch vegetables like potato, yam, tapioca, pumpkin, sweet potato, corn
- Legumes like dhal, red bean, mung bean, kidney bean, green peas
- Milk and yogurt
- Sugary food and drinks like syrup, carbonated drink, doughnuts
3 simple steps to help you control blood sugar level
- Regular meal timings and do not skip meals
- Always practice portion control
- Consistent amount of carbohydrate at each meal
Diabetic patients do not need a special diet. A healthy balanced diet can help to keep blood sugar level in good control and maintain overall health. Read more about Diabetes
Kidney stones and CKD
Kidney stones can increase the risk of chronic kidney disease and cause permanent damage to kidneys.
Kidney stones can be formed when chemicals likes calcium, oxalate, urate, cystine, xanthine, and phosphate become highly concentrated in the blood. Drinking enough water will flush out the kidney stones or the chemicals mentioned above in the urine, preventing stone formation. You may need to follow a special diet if you have kidney stones. Your doctor will help you to find out the type of stones and determine which type of diet may be suitable for you.
General recommendations to prevent kidney stones formation:
1. Drink plenty of water
When there is too little fluid and too much waste in urine, crystals begin to form, the first step is forming a stone. Drinking enough water helps to dilute the urine and prevent chemicals in the urine to form crystals. It also helps to excrete chemicals from the body and prevent stone formation. You are recommended to drink 2-3L of water a day. You may need to drink more if you have concentrated urine.
2. Eat more fruits and vegetables
Eating more fruits and vegetables make the urine less acidic, in turn kidney stones may be less likely to form.
3. Reduce excess salt from diet
Too much sodium (salt) consumption increases the urinary calcium excretion and potassium along with citrate resulting in a change in the urinary pH that will eventually increase the risk of stone formation. Read more about Kidney Stones.
Gout and CKD
Gout (Hyperuricemia) occurs when uric acid, a normal waste product, builds up in the blood and forms crystals in the joints and/or kidneys. Uric acid crystals deposit in the joints can cause pain, swelling, stiffness, deformity, and impair movement. Uric acid crystals deposit in the kidneys can become large stones. These stones can cause permanent kidney damage by:
1) Forming an obstacle that prevents kidneys from removing wastes
2) Causing infection and scarring the kidneys with rough or sharp edges
Both problems can lead to chronic kidney disease and even kidney failure. You need to follow a low purine diet if you have a gout problem. Purine is a chemical compound that can be found in many foods. When the body breaks down purine, uric acid is formed and excreted out from the body via urination. In some people, there is an abnormality in the metabolism of purine and it leads to high levels of uric acid in the blood, which is far more than what the kidneys can excrete into the urine.
Food high in purine are alcoholic drinks (beer, spirit), anchovies, sardines, herring, mackerel, gravies, meat extract, scallop, organ meats (brain, kidney, liver), yeast extracts (Marmite, Vegemite).
Read more about Gout.
*The above information and recommendations are general guidelines, and should not be viewed as specific advice for any individual. Please consult your physician or other health care advisors for personal health decisions.