Managing your blood sugar with kidney disease


Millions of Americans live with diabetes and kidney disease. Diabetes, which means the body cannot process blood sugar, may cause illness if not treated. One of these is kidney damage.

Over time, high blood sugar hurts the small blood vessels your kidneys use to filter blood. This also hurts the kidneys themselves. High blood sugar can damage nerves in the body, including those in the bladder that warn you when you need to urinate. If urine builds up in the bladder, it hurts the kidneys and causes urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Controlling your blood sugar

Managing diabetes can be hard, due to needing lifestyle changes and medicines. Follow your doctor’s treatment plan to help protect your kidneys.

When managing your blood sugar, you should:

  • Have regular eating patterns. Eating the same number of meals around the same time each day helps control blood sugar.
  • Eat many different foods. Eating from all food groups is a good way to stay healthy.
  • Limit fats. Eat foods that are low in saturated and trans fats, as well as cholesterol.
  • Make room for fiber. High-fiber foods keep you fuller for longer. Whole-grain breads, vegetables, dried beans, and fruits are all great sources of fiber.
  • Watch your refined carbohydrates, including sugar. Starches and sugars raise your blood sugar level. Limiting these foods prevents blood sugar from going up.

Exercise helps you control blood sugar levels. It’s a good idea to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. Walking, swimming, and cycling are all great options.

Exercise also helps you keep a healthy weight. This is important, because excess weight makes your kidneys work harder. It also makes it hard to manage your blood sugar.

Making healthier meals

It can be tough to know what a healthy meal looks like. Try using the "plate method." Half your plate should be some type of vegetable, including salads. A quarter of your plate should be good protein. The last quarter can be grains, beans, or starchy vegetables.

Your dietician will let you know if you need to make any other changes to your diet.