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Chronic kidney disease - Preventing chronic kidney disease

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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In most cases, chronic kidney disease (CKD) cannot be completely prevented, although you can take steps to reduce the chances of the condition developing.

Managing your condition

If you have a chronic (long-term) condition, such as diabetes, that could potentially cause chronic kidney disease, it is important it is carefully managed.

Follow the advice of your GP and keep all appointments relating to your condition. People with diabetes are advised to have their kidney function tested every year.

Read more about Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes.

Smoking

Smoking increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks or strokes, and it can increase the likelihood that any existing kidney problems will get worse.

If you stop smoking, you will improve your general health and reduce your risk of developing other serious conditions, such as lung cancer and heart disease.

The NHS smoking helpline can offer you advice and encouragement to help you quit smoking. Call 0300 123 1044 or visit the NHS Smokefree website.

Read more about stopping smoking.

Diet

A healthy diet is important for preventing chronic kidney disease. It will lower the amount of cholesterol in your blood and keep your blood pressure at a healthy level. Eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (five portions a day) and whole grains.

Limit the amount of salt in your diet to no more than 6g (0.2oz) a day. Too much salt will increase your blood pressure. One teaspoonful of salt is equal to about 6g.

Avoid eating foods high in saturated fat because this will increase your cholesterol level.

Foods high in saturated fat include:

  • meat pies 
  • sausages and fatty cuts of meat 
  • butter 
  • ghee (a type of butter often used in Indian cooking) 
  • lard 
  • cream 
  • hard cheese 
  • cakes and biscuits 
  • foods that contain coconut oil or palm oil

Eating some foods that are high in unsaturated fat can help decrease your cholesterol level. Foods high in unsaturated fat include:

  • oily fish 
  • avocados 
  • nuts and seeds 
  • sunflower oil
  • rapeseed oil
  • olive oil

Read more about healthy food and diet.

Alcohol

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol will cause your blood pressure to rise, as well as raising cholesterol levels in your blood. Therefore, sticking to the recommended alcohol consumption limits is the best way to reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure (hypertension) and CKD.

The recommended limits for alcohol are:

  • 3-4 units of alcohol a day for men 
  • 2-3 units of alcohol a day for women

A unit of alcohol is equal to about half a pint of normal strength lager, a small glass of wine or a pub measure (25ml) of spirits.

Read more about alcohol.

Exercise

Regular exercise should help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of developing CKD.

At least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (such as cycling or fast walking) every week, is recommended. 

Read more about health and fitness.

Painkillers

Kidney disease can be caused by the improper use (such as taking too many) of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen.

If you need to take painkillers, make sure you follow the instructions. This can help to avoid kidney damage.

Medical Review: August 19, 2012
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