Did you know that diabetes is a key risk factor for kidney disease? As March is the month for Kidney Health awareness, it’s the perfect time to learn exactly how to look after your kidneys with Type 2 diabetes. Our kidneys are a most precious organ that works hard 24/7 and their role is often underrated when we think about our health. Here’s what you need to know to protect your kidneys and minimise complications from Type 2 diabetes.
What your kidneys do
Our kidneys are so important that our body has two of them. The graphic below highlights the functions they have in keeping us healthy.
Approximately 180 litres of fluid is filtered through the kidneys every single day. This is processed as 3 litres filtered 60 times, in each 24 hour period or you can think about it as half a cup of fluid every minute.
The two kidneys are each the size of a fist and are tasked with cleaning and clearing toxins out, regulating mineral balance and blood pressure, all day and all night, every day. Thank you kidneys!
How diabetes affects your kidneys
When you have Type 2 diabetes, the high blood sugar levels results in damage to your kidneys over time, known as kidney nephropathy. Over many years, the condition slowly damages your kidneys’ delicate filtering system.
It’s important to note that this damage can occur long before you have symptoms.
However, for many people, one of the first signs of both type 1 and 2 diabetes is frequent urination (polydipsia) as the kidneys desperately try to push the excess blood glucose through the urine. It’s also this same reason that contributes to frequent bladder infections (UTI’s) for people with diabetes.
When kidney nephropathy develops, it results in waste and fluids building up in the blood instead of leaving via the kidneys. This can lead to dialysis or worse. A conservative statistic puts forward that 30% of diabetics will develop kidney disease.
Early treatment may prevent or slow the disease’s progress and reduce the chance of complications, so it’s time to act early to help support and look after your kidneys with Type 2 diabetes.
How do I know if my kidneys are affected?
In the early stages of kidney nephropathy, you may not see any signs or symptoms. The earliest sign of diabetic kidney disease is an increased excretion of albumin in the urine, which means a yearly test with your doctor is a good idea.
However, the following signs and symptoms do appear as your kidneys are placed under increased strain. These include*:
- Worsening blood pressure control
- Protein in the urine
- Swelling of feet, ankles, hands or eyes
- Increased need to urinate, particularly at night
- Reduced need for insulin or diabetes medicine
- Confusion or difficulty concentrating
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Persistent itching
Keeping your kidneys healthy with Type 2 diabetes
Still wondering how to look after your kidneys with Type 2 diabetes? Well without doubt, the most effective way is to reverse Type 2 diabetes and prevent the damage it does to your kidneys, by reducing the excess blood sugar they need to process.
Make controlling your diabetes the top priority and learn as much as you can about the condition so that you have that control, independently for your own health, to manage it well every day. (Learn everything you need to know about Type 2 diabetes here)
Manage high blood pressure and other medical conditions that can further increase your risk of kidney disease. (bonus – when you reverse diabetes, it improves most other medical conditions)
Monitor your blood glucose levels This is a cornerstone of diabetes reversal as testing your blood glucose levels allows you to know exactly what is affecting them. A specialist diabetes programme can then guide you to the changes you can make.
Maintain a healthy weight to keep your body and its organs working well, without stress or overload. This goes hand in hand with diabetes control so look to a healthy active lifestyle with good nutrition. (Ensure you’re getting the right information here for your health with a specialised programme or coach).
A crucial key to kidney health is to be well hydrated with water. By creating a consistent intake of water, your kidneys can work more effectively at flushing out waste and toxins. For many, creating that consistent water intake can seem difficult. Try this simple strategy, starting tomorrow:
First thing each morning, drink 2 glasses of water consumed on an empty stomach, then wait 15 minutes before any food is added.
This allows the water to go directly through the digestive tract to act like batteries to fire up the cells for the day. This water also activates digestive enzymes from the liver, so that nutrients can better be absorbed from your food.
The body uses water in every cell, organ, and tissue. It helps to regulate body temperature and maintain a whole raft of bodily functions. Water is so essential to life and our wellbeing to the point where we can live without food, but we cannot live without water. When you feel thirsty, reach for water.
The essential step to take for your kidneys when you have Type 2 diabetes
Make reversing Type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes the key strategy to preventing kidney disease, by removing this most dangerous risk factor. Remember that your kidneys may not give you the signs and symptoms until the damage is done so take the essential step today to support them well. Not sure if you’re at risk? Book a call to discuss your diabetes with our diabetes reversal experts and join our members who have reversed their diabetes and protected their kidneys in the process.