How to Prevent Kidney Disease


The kidneys, located below the ribs in your spine, are vital for cleansing the blood. They remove toxins by filtering the bloodstream, forming urine to expel these toxins from the body. The glomerulus is a network of capillaries, and many of these structures are in the kidney, acting as filtration units.  

Kidney disease arises from abnormal glomerular activity. Kidney disease can manifest in many ways, such as:

  • Chronic kidney disease (CKD). This is the most common form of the disease, where the kidney cannot clear the blood of toxins. It is a slow process and progressively deteriorates kidney function. Early intervention can improve organ function and cure the disease.  
  • Glomerulonephritis. Glomeruli can develop infections. This requires immediate care through antibiotic treatment to prevent the disease from becoming acute. 
  • Autoimmune-disease-related kidney disease. Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can induce kidney cell destruction, causing acute or chronic kidney disease. 
  • Polycystic kidney disease. Fluid-filled cysts develop, increasing the size of the kidney, negatively affecting its function. It is progressive and incurable. 
  • Kidney cancer. Among the top 10 cancers that affect Americans. It can result from genetic mutations in individuals typically 45 and older.

Wegener’s granulomatosis, Goodpasture syndrome, and Alport syndrome are some examples of rare kidney diseases. 

Signs and symptoms

It is usually a silent disease as the kidney has a higher tolerance for reduced function, taking a long time for any sign or symptom to be noticed. It is very important to get checked early, especially for those with Type-II diabetes and those with a family history of kidney disease. A simple dipstick test can check for the presence of protein or blood in urine, which can be diagnostic of kidney disease. 

Symptoms of kidney disease range from mild to severe. Mild symptoms include breathlessness, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, urination problems, swelling in the lower extremities, nausea and vomiting, muscle cramps, and itching. Severe symptoms require one to go to the emergency centre or call the primary care physician, including fever, nose bleeds, nausea, and severe abdominal and back pain. Take note of high blood pressure, as 1 in 5 people with high blood pressure have CKD. Anaemia and an electrolyte imbalance can also manifest in kidney disease. CKD can also be diagnosed when oedema (swelling caused by a build-up of fluid) happens in parts of the body such as the face, legs, feet, or ankles. The risk of kidney disease increases with age and typically affects people 45 and older¹.

Can you reverse this disease?

In many circumstances, yes. By reducing phosphate levels, maintaining calcium levels, and accounting for abnormal parathyroid hormone levels, kidney disease is reversible. However,  end-stage renal disease is not curable, but dialysis and kidney transplants can help manage the disease. 

Lifestyle factors:

The following lifestyle factors have the greatest impact on increasing your risk of this chronic health condition. 


Nutrition plays an important role in kidney disease. Malnutrition and unhealthy foods are some of the primary causes of the disease, so an initial intervention for patients is guidance on their diet. People with kidney disease must consume a diet low in sodium and protein. Avoid red and processed meat, foods rich in sodium, phosphorus, and potassium. Alcoholic drinks, calcium-rich foods, processed foods, and canned foods contain excess sodium and phosphorus. Cereal, fizzy drinks, fruit punch, and some varieties of bottled or canned iced tea contain high phosphorus levels, increasing kidney disease risk. Foods lower in sodium, potassium, and phosphorus include carrots, green beans, fruits like apples and peaches, cooked rice, rice milk, heart-healthy foods like low-fat milk, low-fat yoghurt, and fish. Be sure to limit saturated and trans fats. Sticking to a diet plan like DASH, a plant-based diet, low-sodium diet, or low-phosphorus and potassium diet can aid in kidney disease. 

Physical activity

Exercise is important: it can help improve muscle mass and function, improve blood glucose, reduce cholesterol, improve cardiovascular health, and improve sleep. Patients with CKD often suffer from cardiovascular disease as well. Exercise promotes the overall health of the heart and thus benefits CKD patients. According to, the movement of large muscle groups helps in kidney disease, so exercises like walking and cycling are good ways to improve kidney functioning. Low-level strengthening exercises are good as well. A fitness regimen of moderate exercise for 150 minutes is beneficial to patients with kidney disease. 30 minutes of exercise three times a week is a good routine. Get a journal and plan:

  • Type of exercise 
  • The length of time 
  • How many times in a week 

See the following link for NHS-recommended gym-free exercises.


Being overweight is a primary cause of the development of cardiovascular disease in patients with chronic kidney disease. 24.2%  and 33.9% of people assigned male and female at birth, respectively, with kidney disease in the US develop kidney disease related to obesity.² 


Smoking can affect the kidneys by elevating blood pressure and negatively affecting  medications taken for treating high blood pressure. It can negatively affect  blood flow to the kidneys, worsening existing kidney disease. Even non-smokers can be affected by cigarettes and develop kidney disease. It is important to quit smoking as high blood pressure is a leading cause of developing kidney disease. There are many ways a person can quit smoking. Contacting local communities for cigarette smokers can help with an individual's goal to quit smoking. A personal care physician can also help in setting plans for quitting smoking. The following article on smoking cessation contains helpful advice for patients with CKD to quit smoking.


Alcohol drinking in moderation is beneficial; for example, drinking a glass of red wine occasionally can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce cardiovascular symptoms. However, heavy drinking can affect kidney function by interfering with its ability to filter the blood of toxins. It can also have another effect of dehydrating the body - this effect is very pronounced on the kidney as it needs water to function properly. Drinking alcohol can also elevate blood pressure and therefore increase the risk of kidney disease. Having more than two drinks a day can raise blood pressure, and blood pressure medications also do not function as intended  when taken with alcohol.³ 

According to, you must take the type and amount of alcohol into consideration: one bottle of beer (12 ounces), one glass of wine (5 ounces), or 1.5 ounces of “hard liquor” is the recommended daily limit. Drinking more than advised results in extra stress on the kidney. Binge drinking frequently can severely compromise kidney function and lead to acute kidney injury. To treat this, a person will need dialysis to restore the kidney to its normal function. It is advisable to stick to recommended levels of drinking to maintain kidney function. The guideline is to not drink more than 14 units a week regularly. See the following link for NHS guidance on alcohol units


Sleep disturbances can fall into two categories: the quantity or quality of sleep. The recommendation, according to leading experts, is 7-9 hours. 

Sleep quality can be disturbed by sleep apnea, waking up in the middle of the night, sleep disorders, or insomnia. Sleep disorders can affect kidney function, and kidney disease can likewise affect sleep. Sleep disorders are more prominent with CKD, especially with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). 80% of patients undergoing dialysis in ESRD report daytime sleepiness, and there is an increased mortality and morbidity burden associated with this.⁴ Studies are ongoing that can help address how sleep hormones help in bettering kidney health. Melatonin, the sleep hormone regulating the cycle of sleeping and waking up, has been suggested to be important in reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, which worsen kidney disease.5 According to, sleep should be identified as a major risk factor. It can be a diagnostic tool in measuring the severity of kidney disease, and therapies can address any sleep-related issues. For better sleep, you can reduce screen time and have a regular routine around bedtime. For more information about improving your sleep, visit

Mental health

Mental health conditions like anxiety and depression can accelerate kidney disease, and a kidney disease diagnosis can negatively affect an individual’s mental health, forming a vicious cycle. Depression can worsen cardiovascular symptoms, increase CKD mortality and increase hospitalisation rates.6 It has been shown that chronic kidney disease is more commonly diagnosed in those with severe mental illness.7 Tips to support your mental health include managing stress, allocating time for self-care, and spending time with friends and family. See for more information.

Kidney disease is a chronic condition that progressively worsens over time, and needs proper diagnosis through blood tests, management of symptoms, and immediate treatment.


There are many risk factors for kidney disease, with some of the most important ones being high blood pressure, sleeplessness, mental health conditions, and obesity. Keep the following points in mind to help prevent kidney disease:

  • Manage your blood pressure by reducing sodium in your food
  • Avoid foods high in phosphorus and potassium, such as processed food and fizzy drinks
  • Exercise regularly to support heart health
  • Quit smoking
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Have a good bedtime routine to sleep well
  • Take care of your mental health

Diagnostic testing

At Klarity we use the latest technology when it comes to diagnostic testing. Our home blood tests give you health insights and personalised recommendations. Find out which test you should take.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chronic Kidney Disease in the United States, 2019. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2019.
  2. Wang, Y., Chen, X., Song, Y., Caballero, B. and Cheskin, L., 2008. Association between obesity and kidney disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Kidney International, 73(1), pp.19-33.
  3. Roerecke, M., 2021. Alcohol’s Impact on the Cardiovascular System. Nutrients, 13(10), p.3419.
  4. Casey, K., 2010. Sleep disorders in chronic kidney disease. Sleep Medicine, 11(3), pp.231-232.
  5. Russcher M. The role of melatonin treatment in chronic kidney disease. Frontiers in Bioscience. 2012;17(7):2644.
  6. Bautovich A, Katz I, Smith M, Loo C, Harvey S. Depression and chronic kidney disease: A review for clinicians. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. 2014;48(6):530-541.
  7. Iwagami, M., Mansfield, K., Hayes, J., Walters, K., Osborn, D., Smeeth, L., Nitsch, D. and Tomlinson, L., 2018. Severe mental illness and chronic kidney disease: a cross-sectional study in the United Kingdom. Clinical Epidemiology, Volume 10, pp.421-429.

Aarthi Narayan

Master of Science (M.S.), Biological science, University of Illinois Chicago

Scientist with 10+ years of strong industry, academic experience in Molecular biology, Tissue culture, Protein purification techniques. Mid-level experience in Diagnostics and start-ups. Excellent at completing large scale projects and experiments with minimal supervision in a timely and efficient manner. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles. 
Klarity / Managed Self Ltd
Alum House
5 Alum Chine Road
Westbourne Bournemouth BH4 8DT
VAT Number: 362 5758 74
Company Number: 10696687

Phone Number:

 +44 20 3239 9818