Diet and lifestyle changes are one of the most prescribed treatments for any condition, especially chronic kidney disease. What you eat is a big part of how you can make yourself better or worse, because everything you take into your body is eventually processed through your kidneys. What many people do not realize is that your diet also includes your fluid intake, not just food.
Why Hydration Is Important
Your body needs hydration to survive. In fact, if you were stranded on a deserted island without food or drinkable water, you would dehydrate faster than you would starve. Island or no, dehydration can affect anyone and can even be quite severe. Dehydration can cause cognitive issues, headache, dizziness, increased heart rate, urinary problems, and a host of other potentially dangerous side effects.
How Hydration Effects Your Kidneys
The main job of the kidneys is to filter out excess fluid, waste, and byproducts from your blood and expels them through your urine. Dehydration can make this job near impossible. When you are dehydrated, there are excess proteins and minerals that can build up in your system and actually even crystalize. This is where most kidney stones are formed.
Staying properly hydrated can help your kidneys work as they were intended to, or at the very least not make it too difficult for them to function.
How to Keep Yourself Hydrated
You can keep yourself properly hydrated through drinking fluids and eating foods that have a high water content. Most fresh fruits and vegetables are full of natural fluids. You should also sip on water constantly throughout the day, and always pay attention to thirst cues. Avoid soda whenever possible, and stick to water or water-based drinks like tea.
You can also help keep your body hydrated by eating a healthy kidney safe diet. Lots of fresh produce (or even fresh frozen) and lean protein make for a balanced diet that is full of the vitamins and minerals that your body needs and not a lot of extra stuff that can hinder kidney function. Canned and processed foods, for example, are so full of sodium, chemicals, and other harmful ingredients that they can actually hurt you.
Hydration and End Stage Renal Disease
If you find yourself in the later stages of chronic kidney disease or in end-stage renal disease, you may find yourself in a new position. In many cases, end-stage renal disease means that you have to limit the amount of fluids that you eat and drink. This can sometimes be even harder than drinking enough.
How to Monitor Your Hydration
In the event that you are put on a fluid restrictive diet, know that there is fluid in just about everything you eat. So you have to pay attention to more than just how many beverages you drink. Any time you eat some soup or even an apple, you need to tally that towards your fluid intake. The best thing you can do to make things simpler for yourself is to keep a food diary.
Hydration is an important part of treating any chronic illness, especially chronic kidney disease. Whether you are trying to ensure that you drink enough fluids to help your kidneys function properly, or monitoring your intake due to end stage renal disease, proper hydration is of the utmost importance.
Also published on Medium.