Your Kidneys and You: 5 Kidney Function Roles

Kidneys are essential workers that contribute to our body’s overall health. These tiny powerhouses work around the clock to keep us going. When your kidneys stop working, this can become troubling for your body. 

Here are 5 ways your kidneys work for you:

Removal of Waste

The main function of the kidneys is to remove waste products and act as the body’s own personal filtration system. 1-2 quarts of toxins and extra fluid are eliminated each day from the body in the form of urine. 

Production of Red Blood Cells

The kidneys produce a hormone called erythropoietin which signals the bone marrow to make red blood cells. These then carry oxygen from the lungs throughout the rest of the body’s internal organ system. 

Regulate Blood Pressure

Kidneys produce a hormone called renin which assists in controlling blood pressure by causing the blood vessels to constrict. Kidneys can send a signal asking for higher blood pressure if it seems too low or vice versa.

Produce Vitamin D

Our bodies naturally attain vitamin D from the sun’s UV rays and nutrition absorption. Kidneys convert it into an active form to be properly used in the body.

Control pH Levels 

The kidneys maintain a healthy balance of chemicals that control the acid levels in your body. As cells break down they create acids. What you eat can also alter the acid levels in your body. Kidneys work to remove and adjust the correct amounts of acid to keep a happy equilibrium. 

Chronic Kidney Disease and Early Detection

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is the gradual loss of kidney function over a period of time. The millions of nephrons that make up the kidneys stop functioning with CKD. The fewer the nephrons, the less ability the body has to filter out wastes. The loss of kidney function can cause a buildup of fluid and electrolytes in the body. At KidneySPA, it is our goal to educate people about early kidney disease detection so they can make healthy choices to prevent it.

Family medical history plays a role when it comes to our health so it’s important to familiarize yourself with it to prepare. A few genetic conditions can make you susceptible to developing CKD later in life. Causes of kidney disease can include: 

  • Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes

  • High blood pressure

  • Recurring kidney infection

  • Glomerulonephritis

  • Interstitial nephritis

  • Vesicoureteral 

CKD is a chronic condition but you can delay the progression. Early detection and intervention are crucial. This is possible by monitoring for symptoms such as: 

  • Feeling tired and having less energy 

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Dry and itchy skin

  • Feeling the need to urinate more often

  • Spotting blood in your urine

  • Urine is foamy

  • Swelling of feet and ankles

  • Loss of appetite 

  • Muscle cramping 

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, consult with your doctor about your family history and early testing. Early treatments can slow the progression of CKD and ensure a healthy future. 

Spread Mindfulness this Thanksgiving Day

The holiday season has rolled in and we are ecstatic to share our tips on enjoying a mindful Thanksgiving Day this year. We've mapped out a day full of enriching activities and a CKD-friendly meal for you and your loved ones to enjoy.


Start off your day fresh and bright with a light yoga routine. Yoga can be an excellent physical activity that improves overall health and quality of life. Some yoga poses, such as bridge and boat pose, can improve kidney function and slow the progression of kidney disease. these poses not only assist in managing water retention but also facilitate in flushing of toxins from the body. Check out this yoga sequence for healthy kidneys. If you're not too familiar with yoga, you can go on a walk instead or engage in light physical activity you enjoy doing outdoors.


Indulge in a dessert with CKD-friendly Pumpkin Cheesecake. Prep this treat ahead of time and skip the hassle for dinner time. So creamy and delicious, your loved ones would never know.

16 oz cream cheese
3 tbsp unsalted margarine
1-1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
5 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup Splenda
1/2 vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Set cream cheese out to soften and melt margarine.

  2. In a medium bowl combine graham cracker crumbs, 1 tablespoon sugar, and melted margarine. Press into the bottom of a 9" springform pan and bake for 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.

  3. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, Splenda, remaining 4 tablespoons of sugar, and vanilla. With an electric mixer, beat on medium speed until smooth. Blend in eggs one at a time

  4. Set aside one cup of the cream cheese mixture with pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice. Pour over top of the cream cheese filling in the springform pan.

  5. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the center of the pie is almost set.

  6. Cool pie to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.


Wrap up your evening by spending time with your loved ones and sharing what each of you is grateful for. Take this time to meditate, check-in with yourself, and allow yourself to feel hopeful for the future.

The KidneySPA team wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving and looks forward to seeing your Thanksgiving day plans shared with us on Instagram or Facebook, just use hashtag #kidneyspa.

¿Cómo se relaciona la diabetes con la enfermedad renal?

La diabetes es una de las principales causas de la enfermedad renal. La enfermedad renal ocurre cuando los rinones se danan y no puedn filtrar la sangre como deberian. Aproximadamente uno de cada cuatro adultos con diabetes padece de enfermedad renal.

La funcion principal de los rinones es flitrar los desechos y el exceso de agua en la sangre en forma de orina. Los rinones tambien ayudan a controlar la presion arterial. Si los rinones estan danados, no pueden filtrar la sangre como deberian y esto puede causar la acumulacion de desechos en el cuerpo y otros problemas de salud. La enfermedad renal causada por diabetes generalmente ocurre lentamente con el pasar de los anos, pero se pueden tomar medidas para proteger los rinones y prevenir o retrasar el dano renal.

Como la diabetes causa la enfermedad renal? 
El nivel alto de azucar en la sangre, tambien conocido como glucosa en la sangre, puede danar los vasos sanguineos de los rinones e impedir que funcionen correctamente. Muchas personas con diabetes tambien tienen presion arterial alta, lo que tambien puede danar los rinones. 

Que aumenta el riesgo de enfermedad renal causada por diabetes?
Padecer diabetes durante mucho tiempo aumenta el riesgo de enfermedad renal y la probabilidad de desarrollar problemas renales si el individup tiene:

  • Demasiada azucar en la sangre

  • Presion arterial (hipertension)

  • Los afroamericanos, los nativos americanos y los hispanos/latinos, tienen una tasa mas alta de diabetes, enfermedad renal e insuficiencia renal en comparacion con los caucasicos y los no hispanos.

Una persona tambien tiene mas probabilidades de tener problemas renales si tiene diabetes y:

  • Fuma

  • No sigue un plan de alimentacion para la diabetes

  • Consume alimentos con alto contenido de sal

  • No realiza actividad fisica

  • Tiene sobrepeso

  • Tiene problemas cardiacos

  • Tiene antecedentes familiares de enfermedad renal

Como puedo hacerle frente al estres de controlar la diabetes?
Controlar la diabetes no siempre es facil. Sentirse estresado, tirste o enojado, es comun cuando se tiene diabetes. Es posible que las personas sepan que hacer para mantenerse saludabes, pero puede ser dificil cenirse a un plan permanentemente. El estres prolongado puede elevar el nivel de azucar en la sangre y la presion arterial, pero se puede aprender a reducirlo respirando profundamente, realizando tareas de jardineria, caminando, haciendo yoga, meditando, practicando un pasatiempo o escuchando musica.


Kidney-Friendly Foods to Love

Living with kidney disease can prove to be challenging when it comes to dietary restrictions. Depending on the level of kidney damage, dietary restrictions can vary from patient to patient. It’s important to follow a renal diet to decrease the accumulation of waste products in the blood, improve overall kidney function, and prevent further damage. The first step is always to consult with your doctor before changing or starting a new diet

Foods to Enjoy
Creating delicious meals that follow a renal diet is completely attainable. Here are a few of our favorite kidney-friendly ingredients:

    • Vegetables: garlic, onion, cabbage, bell peppers, radish, and turnips

    • Fruits: blueberries, pineapples, and cranberries

    • Grains: bulgur and buckwheat

    • Protein: sea bass, skinless chicken, and egg whites 

    • Macadamia nuts

    • Shiitake mushrooms

Following a renal diet does not mean restriction to a small selection of foods. This can be an amazing opportunity for patients to learn more about the purpose of the foods they are consuming.

Indulge in Something Sweet
Candies do not need to be completely thrown out of a kidney-friendly diet. These are a select few that can still be enjoyed:

    • Hard Candy

    • Jelly Beans

    • Gummy Bears

    • and more!

Like all foods, sweets should be consumed in limited quantities and you should consult with a renal dietitian or your health team prior to integrating any new foods into your diet.

Foods to Avoid
Before exploring the variety of nutrient-rich food that can increase kidney function, let’s look at which foods should be avoided. 

    • Vegetables: avocados, tomatoes, potatoes and sweet potatoes

    • Fruits: bananas, oranges, apricots

    • Greens: swiss chard, spinach, beet greens 

    • Grains: brown rice and whole wheat bread

    • Packaged, instant, premade, and canned foods

    • Pickles, olives, relishes

    • Pretzels, chips, crackers

    • Dark-colored soda

    • Dairy

What do all these foods have in common? They are high in potassium, phosphorus, and sodium. Those with kidney failure cannot adequately remove excess levels of these minerals. 

The KidneySPA team is here to guide you toward a healthy, kidney-safe diet that is nutritious and delicious -- and not just dialysis patients! We see non-dialysis patients for regular consultations to help them be their healthiest selves.

Dialysis and Depression

Undergoing dialysis can create a heavy toll on many patients’ mental health. They can often feel social isolation, loneliness, anxiety, and depression. This month, we honor National Depression Screening Day on Oct. 7 by advising our patients to take an online depression screening.

How to Detect Early Signs of Depression
Early detection of depression is possible with the help of medical professionals. Signs of depression can include: 

    • Persistent feeling of sadness or anxiousness

    • Restlessness and irritability

    • Fatigue or loss of energy

    • Feeling guilty, hopeless, or worthless

    • Thoughts of suicide or death

Understanding the symptoms of depression is the first step. People exhibiting any symptoms should seek help from their doctor or health team.

Effects of Depression on Dialysis
Depression can have a tremendous impact on a patient’s quality of life, mentally and physically. According to the American Journal of Kidney Diseases, people undergoing dialysis who are diagnosed with depression are more likely to become hospitalized and tend to spend more days in the hospital. Some research shows depression might encourage changes in the immune system and trigger dietary issues. Due to this, it is crucial dialysis patients seek treatment if feeling symptoms of depression.

How to Cope Living with Dialysis
Managing mental health has its challenges. Many patients have opted to participate in peer support programs where they are able to share feelings with like-minded individuals. Peer support programs have shown to:

    • Help dialysis patients adjust to living with a chronic illness

    • Improve well-being

    • Decrease feeling of isolation

    • Promote better self-management

Peer support allows patients to share experiences that can be seen as common and normal to others. Patients are advised to speak to their medical professionals and ask about their peer support program options. 

At KidneySPA we are deeply invested in our patients’ physical and mental health. An online screening proves to be a helpful resource but is not an official diagnosis. We encourage patients to reach out to their doctors and health team.

Myths About Dialysis: Setting the Record Straight

Every day, millions of people undergo dialysis. This lifesaving treatment uses a specialized machine to filter toxins from the blood – work normally done by healthy kidneys. Although the need for dialysis is undisputed, common misconceptions persist about the burden of being on dialysis, and we’re here to set the record straight.

Myth: The only option for receiving dialysis treatment is to travel to a center at least three times per week for hours at a time.
Fact: There are so many dialysis options. If a patient is hospitalized, they can receive it during hospitalization. Peritoneal dialysis can be done in a unit or the comfort of your home. Patients should talk with their doctors about which type of dialysis they need and their treatment location options.

Myth: Dialysis is painful.
Fact: The dialysis treatment itself is painless. You may feel some discomfort when the needle is put into your fistula or graft, but most patients have no other pain during the process. Some patients may experience side effects, like a drop in blood pressure that can lead to nausea, vomiting, headaches or cramps. However, the risk of these types of side effects can be reduced by following kidney-conscious dietary recommendations.

Myth: Dialysis is expensive or unaffordable for the normal patient.
Fact: Many of the costs associated with dialysis are covered by either the federal government, health insurance or state medical aid. The federal government pays 80 percent of all dialysis costs for most patients, which helps keep out-of-pocket costs low.

Myth: Due to time constraints, dialysis patients can't travel.
Fact: There are dialysis centers located in every part of the United States and in many foreign countries that can assist patients who wish to travel. The treatment is standardized, so it can be received anywhere. If you want to travel, talk to your dialysis team about safe travel tips and help with arranging out-of-town treatments.


Cómo cuidar sus riñones

Aunque usted no sea un paciente de diálisis, hay muchas cosas que puede hacer para prevenir una enfermedad renal crónica (ERC). Además de mantener bajo el azúcar en sangre y la presión arterial, tome en cuenta los siguientes consejos y siempre consulte con su doctor.

Reducir el consumo de carnes y lácteos
La carne y los productos lácteos contienen proteína animal, que según las investigaciones pueden tener un efecto negativo en la función renal y ser una carga adicional para los riñones agravando cualquier enfermedad renal existente. 

Mantenerse hidratado
Beba agua. Ingerir líquidos inadecuados, provoca deshidratación que es importante evitar en caso de padecer enfermedades renales.

Hacer ejercicio regularmente
El ejercicio mejora la salud en general, y en particular la salud renal. Además, puede prevenir la presión arterial alta, que también puede afectar la salud de los riñones.  

No consumir sal
Ingerir sal aumenta la cantidad de sodio en el torrente sanguíneo, resultando en retención de líquidos y un aumento de la presión arterial afectando directamente a los riñones y restringiendo su capacidad de eliminar el agua. 

Revisar sus medicamentos
Aunque a veces son esenciales, los medicamentos pueden afectar la función de los riñones. Debido a que los órganos filtran muchos medicamentos, este esfuerzo con el tiempo puede causar un deterioro de la función renal. Hable con su doctor sobre los posibles efectos secundarios de sus medicinas. 

Dejar de fumar
Los fumadores tienen un mayor riesgo de sufrir enfermedades cardíacas, accidentes cerebrovasculares y varios tipos de cáncer. Además, el hábito ralentiza el flujo sanguíneo a órganos importantes como los riñones. Los fumadores también tienen un mayor riesgo de enfermedades renales, especialmente cuando la persona también tiene diabetes. 

Exámenes periódicos
Las medidas preventivas pueden ayudar a detectar enfermedades renales. Las personas con afecciones preexistentes, como presión arterial alta, enfermedades cardíacas o diabetes, deben realizarse chequeos periódicos para su control y la detección de cualquier condición.

10 Tips for Successful At-Home Peritoneal Dialysis

Adjusting to life on dialysis can be challenging and the process of at-home peritoneal dialysis can be difficult at first. At KidneySPA, we offer patients and caregivers training and monthly consultation services to help them get started and guide them toward successful treatments. In addition, we recommend taking these steps to feel better both physically and emotionally during the process.

  • Get training, help, and support. After consulting with your doctor, if you choose at-home peritoneal dialysis you’ll need to be trained to do it on your own. If you’re partnering with a caregiver to help you with treatment, train together and make sure they remain with you during the procedures and can handle the commitment. Talk to your care team about how you can make your at-home sessions better and express your concerns to a healthcare provider, other patients, support group, your family, or a counselor. 

  • Learn and become your own advocate. Learn all aspects of performing at-home dialysis treatments with your medical team and it will eventually become a regular routine you’ll find relatively easy to do. Learning as much as you can about kidney failure, medications, and your body is also key. The more you know, the calmer you will be. Take your blood pressure and weigh yourself so you can be proactive and practice preventive medicine. Work on nutritional health issues with your dietitian and get your family and friends involved. 

  • Get into a routine. Having a routine schedule is always very helpful. Make sure you stay on the machine for the entire treatment. Missing just a few minutes can make dialysis less effective and seriously impact your health. 

  • Find the right space in your home. At-home peritoneal dialysis requires a dry storage space for your equipment. Select the best location for both storage and treatment, and make sure you have enough supplies for an emergency and a plan in case of a power outage. 

  • Stay warm. Some patients might feel cold while they are in session so a nice blanket or a hat can always help. 

  • Keep track of your symptoms. Flu-like symptoms, tiredness, weakness, and chills, are common for people on dialysis. You might also sleep more or be more forgetful due to anemia which can be treated. Be sure to keep your medical team informed about how you are doing. 

  • Take advantage of dialysis time. It’s important to make the most of your at-home dialysis sessions and use your dialysis time in a way that benefits you. Catch up on emails, work on your computer, read a book, watch a movie or your favorite shows, listen to music, or do guided meditation to reduce stress. You could also use the time to talk to your family and friends or make those calls you never have time to make. 

  • Develop good habits. Eat right and drink properly, take your medicines, follow your doctors’ orders, and exercise. In order to feel well and keep your system in balance, it’s important to follow the nutrition plan provided by your dialysis dietitian. Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress and increase your strength and endurance, so check with your doctor to find out what type of exercise is safe for you. 

  • Establish a new normal. Try to get back to work and your routine as soon as you feel you can do it. It will make you feel good. You can return to many of your previous activities while on dialysis which will greatly benefit you in the long run. 

  • Stay positive and take one day at a time. Adjusting to kidney failure is easier if you take it one day at a time while focusing on the positive, thinking about how much better you feel after your sessions, and accepting that dialysis helps you and allows you to live your life. Some people live as long on dialysis as people without kidney failure. If you just can’t seem to stay positive, talk to your care team and get the help you need through this trying time.