Around 1 in 3 adults with diabetes have kidney disease. In fact, diabetes is the second leading cause of kidney disease in the United States. Here’s what you need to know about the link between diabetes and kidney health.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition that causes blood sugar (or glucose) to rise to higher-than-normal levels.
Our bodies get sugar from the food we eat. Our cells need this sugar for energy. We use a hormone called insulin to get sugar from the blood into our cells.
When we have trouble using insulin, sugar can’t get into the cells. This can also happen if we’re not making enough insulin. As a result, sugar stays in the blood longer than it should. This causes the high blood sugar levels that are common in diabetes.
High blood sugar can hurt many parts of the body, including the kidneys. It can also cause damage to the eyes, liver, heart, and nerves.
The goal of diabetes treatment is to keep blood sugar levels in a safe range. To do this, your doctor might prescribe oral medication. Diabetes meds can help insulin work better. Or, your doctor might recommend insulin injections.
Food and exercise are more important tools to manage diabetes. Eating balanced meals and snacks can help control blood sugar. Exercise can help our bodies use blood sugar for energy.
Diabetes and Kidney Disease
Over time, high blood sugar can damage the tiny blood vessels in your kidneys. This damage can lead to kidney disease.
If you have diabetes, you should see your doctor at least once a year for a kidney check. Always follow up with your providers. Be sure to get any labs that they order.
What Can You Do?
If you have diabetes, you can take action to prevent kidney disease. Do you have both diabetes and kidney disease? These same steps will help slow kidney damage.
- Eat a healthy diet. Focus on non-starchy veggies, fruit, and whole grains. Limit added salt, sugar, and fat. Choose lean proteins like chicken or turkey breast, fish, seafood, lean beef, pork, eggs, and beans. Check in with your doctor for your specific needs.
- Take your meds as your doctor prescribed them.
- Don’t forget to follow up with your doctor.
- Get at least 30 minutes of movement every day.
- Maintain, or get to, a healthy body weight.
- Stop smoking.
- Limit or avoid alcohol.