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Lifestyle Tips for Kidney Health & Diabetes

Manage Your Blood Sugar Levels

If you're living with diabetes, you know that managing blood sugar levels isn't just part of your routine—it's a critical aspect of protecting your health, including your kidneys. We understand that this balancing act is easier said than done and that you're likely well-versed in the why's and how's of blood sugar control. But even for the seasoned pro, there's always room to fine-tune or learn new strategies for keeping those levels just right. Let's dive into some ways to maintain optimal blood sugar levels, ensuring your kidneys stay healthy and your daily management feels more empowered:

  • Regular Monitoring: Keeping tabs on your blood sugar can feel like a full-time job. But staying in tune with how your levels respond to different aspects of your life, from the food you eat to how active you are, is key to taking control of your diabetes. Aiming for an A1C below 7% is a common goal, but it's not one-size-fits-all. Work with your doctor to establish the perfect goal for your needs.
  • Embrace Time in Range (TIR): Using a CGM? Amazing! It's like having a personal guide to help you through the ups and downs of blood sugar levels. For most living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, it is generally recommended to aim to spend 70% or more of their time in range, but like A1C, time in range goals are different for every person. TIR gives you a closer look at your daily glucose levels, giving you more insight than periodic A1C tests.
  • Stick to Your Medication Plan: Remembering to take your medications daily can be a challenge, especially with the busy pace of everyday life. But consider your medications as key partners in your health! Following your medication plan as prescribed—whether it involves insulin injections or oral medications—is essential for keeping your blood sugars stable. Though we all might slip up now and then, making an effort to stay consistent is important for minimizing blood sugar fluctuations and protecting both your kidneys and overall health.

Say No To Smoking

Smoking poses significant risks for everyone, and people living with diabetes are no exception. Smoking not only increases risks for kidney complications but heart diseases, cancers, and other health problems. If you are currently a smoker, making the decision to quit can significantly improve your kidney health among many other benefits. If you are trying to quit:
  • Seek Support: Quitting smoking can be challenging, but you don't have to do it alone! There's a lot of support available, from doctors to support groups and counseling programs. Receiving help and encouragement from others can make quitting more manageable. Look into these resources and find the support that suits you best.
  • Know Your Triggers: It’s important to recognize what makes you want to smoke, such as certain places, feelings, or stressors. This awareness allows you to tackle those situations in new, healthier ways. You might use exercise to ease stress, spend more time on a hobby you enjoy, or practice mindfulness. These healthier choices can help you resist the urge to smoke.
Visit for more resources and information on how to quit smoking.


Get Moving

Being physically active on a regular basis can significantly benefit your kidneys and overall health! Here are a few tips on how to make exercise a part of your life:

  • Talk to Your Doctor: Always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise plan to make sure it is safe for your current health situation.
  • Make It Enjoyable: Exercise doesn't mean forcing yourself to go on a run if you dislike it. Pick activities that you actually enjoy, whether it's walking, cycling, swimming, weightlifting, playing tennis, or simply enjoying a game of pickleball with friends. When you enjoy your movement, it's much easier to keep up with it!
  • Start Small: You can start out with simpler, low-impact exercises for short sessions. As you become more comfortable, you can gradually increase both the intensity and length of your workouts. The American Diabetes Association suggests getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Additionally, it’s beneficial to learn about the relationship between exercise and blood glucose.


Adopt Healthy Eating Habits

Navigating food choices can be tricky for those living with diabetes. Below, you'll find helpful tips on how to make food choices that benefit both your kidney and diabetes health every day. It's important to remember that everyone's health needs are unique. For a health plan tailored specifically to you, please consult your doctor or dietitian. They can provide personalized advice that takes into account your individual health conditions, dietary needs, and lifestyle.

  • Practice Portion Control: Keep an eye on your portion sizes and aim for balanced meals that include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Avoid overeating, which can strain the kidneys.
  • Limit Sodium and Processed Foods: Too much sodium can cause fluid retention and elevate blood pressure, both of which are harmful to your kidneys. Whenever possible, try to limit your consumption of processed foods and opt for home-cooked meals so you can control the amount of salt in your food.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drinking enough water is vital for kidney function. Be sure to consume plenty of water throughout the day. Talk to your doctor to figure out the right amount for you. Some signs you might be dehydrated are:
    • Dark yellow or orange urine
    • Feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or tired
    • Dry mouth or lips
    • Headaches
    • Feeling nauseous
    • Cramping muscles during activity
To help you get started making smart food choices, the chart below offers practical tips for adding flavor, dining out or shopping, and cooking methods at home:

When you’re… Try This! Limit This!
Adding Flavor to Food

Use herbs, spices, lemon juice, or vinegars to enrich your meals' flavor without adding extra salt. Aim to keep added salt to less than one teaspoon per day.
Eating Out or Grocery Shopping Opt for fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean protein sources like chicken or fish. Always read labels to choose items with fewer additives. Reduce your intake of processed and fast foods, which often contain harmful additives.

Choosing Proteins Incorporate more plant-based proteins into your meals, such as beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, peas, and broccoli. Decrease consumption of red and fried meats to protect your heart and kidneys.
Cooking At Home Use cooking methods that require low heat, or that are steam or liquid-based, like poaching and braising. Avoid high-heat cooking techniques such as frying and broiling.

Did you know that cooking at high temperatures produces AGEs (advanced glycation end products) in your food? These AGEs can accumulate in your body, raising your risk of kidney disease. NaviDKD® measures specific AGEs in your body to evaluate your risk for kidney disease. Explore whether NaviDKD® is right for you by taking this short quiz.



Adopting healthy lifestyle habits is key for people with diabetes in protecting their kidney health. By carefully managing blood sugar levels, quitting smoking, staying active, and eating a kidney-friendly diet, the risk of kidney complications can be reduced. Remember, always consult with your doctor for personalized advice as they have the best understanding of your health and can help guide your lifestyle choices.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. It is intended to promote understanding and knowledge of various health topics but not to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information presented is generalized and may not apply to everyone's individual health situation. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before making any health-related decisions. 

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About Journey Biosciences

Journey Biosciences is shifting the future of care through predictive innovations. Our flagship solution blends the precision of NaviDKD®, a clinically-validated predictive screening, with the AI-driven insights of Compass, offering up to 12 years of advanced diabetes-related kidney disease (DKD) detection and tailored intervention strategies. This groundbreaking approach improves patient outcomes, optimizes resource allocation, and reduces costs. Discover more about our transformative approach at

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