Kidney Diet Tips

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6 Ways to Support Your Heart Health

A person holding a red apple in their hands.There is a heart carved out of the apple.

February is the month when we like to express love to that special person. It’s also National Heart Awareness month. So, why not make yourself that special person and focus on protecting your heart health?

Let’s look at some ways to support and protect your heart:

Control fluid intake

Our heart has an important job of pumping 5 liters of blood throughout the entire body every minute. That’s a big job for a small 9- to 10-ounce organ! Usually when the kidneys are functioning properly, excess fluid is eliminated. However, when the kidneys have failed this fluid builds up around the heart and limbs, and it’s much harder to pump. This creates shortness of breath, coughing, weight gain, swelling of various parts of the body and may require medical attention. Love your heart by limiting fluid to the amount your doctor or dietitian prescribes if you are on a fluid restriction, and your heart will love you back!

Increase antioxidant intake

Antioxidants protect the heart and blood vessels, and reduce inflammation (1). They are found in foods such as berries and other low-potassium fruits and vegetables; healthy fats found in salmon, tuna and olive oil; and herbs and spices such as oregano, rosemary and ginger.

Reduce inflammation

Inflammation contributes to heart disease. In addition to increasing antioxidants to reduce inflammation, reduce eating processed foods such as packaged luncheon meats, hot dogs and packaged snacks. Try to prepare most foods from scratch. However, frozen fruits and vegetables with no sauces or additives are fine.

Prevent calcification

Excess phosphorus and calcium can deposit in the blood vessels. This can cause hardening and not allow the vessels to contract and expand the way they should, which in turn can cause problems with blood pressure and contribute to heart disease. So, remember to reduce or avoid high-phosphorus and -calcium foods if your doctor prescribes, and take your phosphorus binders as directed if prescribed.

Balance potassium

Potassium is a very important mineral, and while your body needs some potassium, too much can be detrimental to the heart and cause irregular heartbeats. You might prevent this by eating only low-potassium foods and limiting or avoiding high-potassium foods if you are prescribed a low-potassium diet.

Increase activity

If OK by your doctor, try to increase your physical activity. This could include light exercises in a chair, walking or doing a full aerobic routine. Exercise strengthens one of the most important muscles—your heart! It can help you become stronger and reduce heart disease. Just be careful not to overdo it.

So, remember. Love your heart and it will love you back!

References:

  1. Lien Ai Pham-Huy, Hua He, Chuong Pham-Huy; Free Radicals, Antioxidants in Disease and Health; Int J Biomed Sci 2008; 4 (2): 89-96, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614697/pdf/IJBS-4-89.pdf/?tool=EBIhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614697/pdf/IJBS-4-89.pdf/?tool=EBI; accessed 12/22/2020

Additional Kidney Diet Resources

Visit DaVita.com and explore these diet and nutrition resources:

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Consult your physician and dietitian regarding your specific diagnosis, treatment, diet and health questions.

Cynthia Johnson, DrPH, MS, RDN

Cynthia Johnson, DrPH, MS, RDN

Cynthia Johnson is a 2nd career dietitian, and a native Washingtonian. She is married and mother of 3 adult children. She holds a doctorate degree in Public Health, 2 Masters’, one in Health Education and the other in Herbal Medicine and a BS in Biology. Besides renal dietetics, her specialty is Functional Nutrition. She enjoys reading, sharing and preparing healthy recipes.