Kidney Diet Tips

Diabetes and Kidney Disease Facts

Wednesday November 14th, 2018 is World Diabetes Day. Learn more about diabetes and how to reduce your risk.

Diabetes is among the top twelve most prevalent diseases in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in 2015, approximately 30.3 million Americans were diagnosed with diabetes. Costs to the health care system for treatment, medical supplies, medications, hospitalizations and more averages $327 billion dollars each year.

In addition to the costs, diabetes complications have been known to cause severe health consequences. Among these health consequences include cardiovascular disease, kidney damage, Alzheimer’s disease, and blindness. As a result, both government funded and private companies have created programs focused on diabetes throughout the United States. These programs have been designed to assist in reducing the number of people affected with diabetes and to lower the cost on the health care system. Do you know if you may be at risk for diabetes? 

Diabetes Types

There are several types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes can be diagnosed at any age, but is most often seen in children, adolescents and young adults. It occurs when insulin required to control blood sugar cannot be produced by the pancreas. After a meal is consumed, carbohydrates in food are broken down into sugar or glucose. Insulin is the hormone released by the pancreas that allows the glucose to be used for energy or stored for later use. If the pancreas cannot produce insulin, the blood sugar levels will rise too high (hyperglycemia) and severe medical consequences can occur.

The most common type of diabetes is type 2 diabetes. This occurs when the body becomes insulin resistant or cannot use insulin properly. Type 1 diabetes is typically caused by genetics and cannot be prevented. Type 2 diabetes is usually caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors such as diet, physical activity and weight.

How Diabetes Impacts the Kidneys

The risk for developing kidney disease in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes is significant, especially if uncontrolled. Because the kidneys play such a vital role in our bodies, kidney disease can have serious implications on other major organs and affect our lifestyle.

Kidneys filter the blood throughout the body. During this filtration process, they remove toxic build up and waste products that are excreted through the urine. They produce hormones that assist in blood pressure regulation and healthy bones. They also assist in making red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout our body.

Over time, high blood sugar can injure the blood vessels and filters in the kidneys. As a result, toxins and waste products that are typically removed by the kidney begin to build-up. This build-up progression is known as chronic kidney disease (CKD).

There are 5 stages of CKD. The 5th stage of CKD is known as End-Stage Renal Disease or ESRD. If a person is diagnosed with ESRD, they will need dialysis or a transplant to survive.

How to Reduce Diabetes Risk

Some risk factors cannot be changed. For example, certain populations including African American, Hispanic/Latino American, American Indian, or Alaska Native and some Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans have a genetically greater risk for developing diabetes. In addition, those over the age of 45 may also be at a higher risk.

Health conditions such as uncontrolled hypertension, obesity, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and a high level of triglycerides can increase the risk for type 2 diabetes. Many of these conditions can be controlled through a combination of medication and dietary interventions. Managing these conditions, making modest lifestyle changes, and adhering to these interventions is key in helping reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes and its complications.

Lifestyle changes can be an effective method for reducing the risk of diabetes and other medical conditions in a majority of the population. Following a well-balanced diet, limiting sugary beverages, reducing high carbohydrate foods, weight loss if your BMI is greater than 25, and drinking plenty of water is important. In addition to diet, getting enough exercise can have a major impact. Regular exercise at moderate intensity for 2-3 hours per week may lead to better blood sugar control and prevention of insulin resistance.

Taking Action

The diagnosis of diabetes and long term effects associated with diabetes can be devastating. By knowing the risk factors, controlling associated health conditions, and living a healthy lifestyle, you can reduce your risk for diabetes. Talk with a dietitian or other health care professional to determine what your risk is and how you can reduce your risk.

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.


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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.

Jessica Fink MS, RD, LDN

Jessica Fink MS, RD, LDN

Jessica Fink has been a Registered Dietitian for two and a half years, recently in the renal specialty. She also works in the acute care setting managing a variety of nutritional needs. Jessica previously worked as a Health Inspector with a focus on food safety. She enjoys Zumba, cooking nutritious meals, and spending time with her daughter.