The health of the kidneys and immune system are closely linked. When the kidneys are no longer able to function properly due to damage or disease, the immune system struggles to protect the body against viruses and infections. For chronic kidney disease patients, this makes it especially important to support your immune health. Here are a few immune boosting tips to keep in mind.
Eat the rainbow
Eating a colorful variety of produce suitable for a kidney diet powers your immune system with essential nutrients and minerals. Vegetables and fruits contain pigments called phytonutrients that give them their different colors and indicate their health benefits. For example, orange produce is rich in immune-boosting Vitamin C and blue produce is typically high in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. By incorporating many different colored fruits and vegetables into your diet, you’re fueling your body (and immune system!) with the nutrients it needs to help you stay well.
Avoid ultra-processed foods
Ultra-processed foods are food items that contain large amounts of additives like salt, sugars, oil, dyes, and other stabilizers. These foods are fairly easy to identify – they typically contain a long list of ingredients, many of which are difficult to pronounce or are unrecognizable. This type of processing strips food of its nutrients. The result is a product low in nutritional value and high in calories and inflammatory properties. For chronic kidney disease patients, significantly reducing your consumption of ultra-processed foods means putting less stress on your body by avoiding sources of nitrates, phosphates, and sodium that your kidneys are struggling to filter.
Maintaining an exercise routine with chronic kidney disease can help you manage stress, increase your energy levels, and fend off hypertension – all while boosting your immune health. Exercise can support your immune system by decreasing the amount of inflammation in the body and slowing the release of stress hormones. If you’re new to exercise, start with low-intensity activity like walking, aerobics, and yoga. As always, be sure to check in with your Nephrology Associates of Greater Cincinnati care team before making any drastic changes to your lifestyle and fitness routine. Read this previous post for more information about exercising with kidney disease.
Keep germs away
One of the best things we can do for our immune system is to keep infections at bay in the first place. Keep up to date with the vaccinations your kidney care team recommends, cover coughs and sneezes, and avoid sharing utensils or glasses with others. You’re likely washing your hands after going to the bathroom, while preparing food, and after other messy tasks, but don’t forget about washing up after petting an animal, blowing your nose, caring for a sick relative, and touching commonly shared surfaces. Be sure to lather and scrub your hands for 20 seconds to kill germs and bacteria before rinsing thoroughly with water.
For personalized kidney health plans and lifestyle tips, talk to your Nephrology Associates of Greater Cincinnati care team.