How to Make the Holidays Kidney-Friendly: Easy Tips for a Healthier Season

How to Make the Holidays Kidney-Friendly: Easy Tips for a Healthier Season

The holidays are a time for family, friends, and fun! However, for many people the holiday season can be stressful. Sometimes, people with kidney disease find it difficult to navigate food, social gatherings, and the expectations this season brings. To help, we compiled 3 easy tips to make the holidays more kidney friendly.

1. Limit your sodium or salt.

Most Americans eat too much sodium. Too much sodium is damaging to the kidneys.  Continue to be diligent in watching how much salt you eat, even during the holiday season. Cheese, stuffing, and gravy are commonly high in sodium. Make sure to enjoy these in moderation.

Tips:

  • Try a salt free seasoning blend.
  • Compare labels.
  • Look for “No Salt Added” or “Low Sodium” products.

2. Eat fruits and vegetables with every meal.

Fruits and vegetables provide us with nutrients that help our bodies function optimally. Filling up on a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables helps protect your kidneys, blood vessels, and heart. Make sure to find fruits and vegetables you enjoy, and if you haven’t found any yet, keep looking!

Tips:

  • Try different cooking methods (baking, steaming, roasting, sautéing).
  • Eat the rainbow of colors.
  • Balance high and low potassium fruits and vegetables.

3. Enjoy your meals!

When you choose your food, include dishes you enjoy. Remember, you can have anything you want, just not everything.  Just like one salad isn’t going to make you healthy, one cookie is not going to make you unhealthy.

Tips:

  • Practice mindfulness.
  • Include foods you like.
  • Balance your plate.

We hope these tips help you have a happy holiday season! If you want more holiday tips, join us for our free community class “Healthy Holiday Makeovers” on December 19th , 2024 at 2pm, sign up here. From all of us at PSKC, we wish you the very best holiday season!

 

Where there’s a will, there’s a way: Walt’s story

Meet Walt, who has been on dialysis at our Everett dialysis center since October 2013. Believe it or not, he has never missed a single treatment—and that’s something to be proud of!

From 1983 to 1989, while serving as a U.S. marine, Walt travelled around the world in service to his country. His service to others continues today as a member of The Road Back to Life, a mentor program that helps fellow patients cope with the effects of end stage kidney disease (ESKD). In these efforts, Walt has helped recruit new patients to serve as mentors and regularly participates in the mentor group meetings which, now offered online, support kidney patients locally and nationally.

Hoping to qualify for a transplant, Walt is working hard to lose weight. As many of you know, this can be especially challenging when you’re following the renal diet. To support this effort, he has reached out to many popular weight loss programs but has been turned down once he tells them he is a dialysis patient. So, for now, it’s his treadmill and his self-determination that keep him going. Walt believes his commitment to dialysis comes from his upbringing, being raised by his grandparents who survived the great depression. He says he learned a strong work ethic from them which was, “Do it, or don’t do it; pick ONE!” This, and other life lessons he learned as a marine, continue to drive Walt today as he navigates dialysis and the pursuit of a kidney transplant.

Walt also stays busy as the patient representative for his center’s monthly quality improvement meetings. He was recently recognized as a subject matter expert for the Patient Advisory Council and the National Patient and Family Engagement and Action Network. In his spare time Walt loves to cook, for himself and others, and he has put together a cookbook of his many favorite recipes along with a few kidney friendly diet suggestions.

“The world isn’t all sunshine and rainbows,” says Walt, reciting one of his favorite quotes. “No one is going to hit you as hard as life. But it isn’t about how hard you get hit, it’s about how hard you get hit and keep moving forward!”

Definite words to live by! Thanks, Walt, for being an inspiration to us all and for all you do to help others with kidney disease.

Kidney-friendly recipes you must try this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, a time to come together and celebrate what we are all thankful for. Although this is often a wonderful time with family and friends, it can also be difficult to navigate if you have kidney disease and are following a restricted diet. We’re here to help! Bringing a dish (or two or three!) to a Thanksgiving gathering will ensure you have something to eat that suits you, putting your mind at ease and making it much easier to enjoy spending time with the ones you love.

In light of that, we’ve compiled some of our favorite Thanksgiving dishes, complete with easy-to-follow recipes. Delicious and low in sodium, these are very tasty, kidney-friendly additions to your holiday menu. Bon appétit!

1. Baked Apple Chips

With just three ingredients, these Baked Apple Chips are one of the simplest, tastiest hors d’oeuvres imaginable. Such a healthy, delicious treat to nibble on while the main meal cooks.

 

2. Roasted Cauliflower, Carrots & Onions

Roasted veggies are an absolute must at Thanksgiving and this simple recipe for Roasted Cauliflower, Carrots and Onions does not disappoint. You won’t believe the flavor you get from seasoning with herbs and spices instead of salt—amazing!

 

3. Sourdough Bread

Bread can be packed with sodium but it doesn’t have to be for flavor—this Low-Sodium Sourdough Bread proves it doesn’t need much to taste delicious! Find a friend with a sourdough starter and get this on your Thanksgiving menu.

 

4. Holiday Herb Stuffing

No Thanksgiving is complete without stuffing and this recipe for Holiday Herb Stuffing is definitely one to try. Plenty of herbs for seasoning and fruit and vegetables for added flavor and crunch—it’s a sure-fire hit.

 

5. Mustard Dill Salmon and Green Beans

The turkey is, of course, the main event but let’s not forget our pescatarians out there. Salmon is such a Pacific Northwest staple, it deserves a place on the Thanksgiving table. Try this recipe for Mustard Dill Salmon and Green Beans—an unbeatable combo.

 

6. Apple Cranberry Cobbler

Yes, pies are a must for Thanksgiving, but this Apple Cranberry Cobbler is such a tasty, autumn delight, it’s worth adding to your menu. Nice and light, it’s ideal for those who aren’t after a heavy pie crust.

 

Double check with your doctor that these recipes are OK for you, then reach out to us on InstagramFacebook and Twitter to let us know what you tried!

Dialysis treatment time—every minute counts! A message from our CMO.

For most in-center patients, hemodialysis means three treatments per week, each four hours in duration. The weekly total of 12 hours represents a small fraction (less than 10%) of the round-the-clock work normally performed by healthy kidneys to continuously clean the blood. Removing the toxins and excess fluid that accumulate in-between treatments requires maximizing every minute of your treatment time.

It is not uncommon that patients may wish to come off dialysis early for a variety of reasons—fatigue, muscle cramping, even boredom, to name a few. While they may not feel any immediate symptoms, shortening treatment time can have a negative long-term impact on overall health. Coming off early once can easily become a recurring pattern of behavior.

Raghu Durvasula, MD, MHA
Chief Medical Officer

Finishing dialysis even five minutes earlier than prescribed would result in 13 hours of missed dialysis time over the course of the year, the equivalent of more than three skipped treatments!

As a result, wastes inevitably begin to accumulate leading to patients feeling unwell, with reduced energy, poor appetite, chronic nausea, shortness of breath, and worsening blood pressure control.

Furthermore, a reduction in treatment time is known to be associated with increased risk of emergency department visits and hospital admissions, while ultimately reducing long-term survival.

If you are having difficulty completing your full treatment, be sure to discuss it with your care team. It is important to figure out why, then find solutions that could help you get through the entire treatment as prescribed.

Every minute counts, so don’t cut yourself short. Staying well-dialyzed will keep you healthy and energetic, so that you are better able to enjoy those activities and life pursuits that matter most to you!

Register today for our annual Gift of Life dinner & auction!

Our annual Gift of Life dinner and auction is next month! We’re heading back to Tulalip Resort Casino on Sept. 16, 2023 to raise much-needed funds for our kidney patients—and we hope you’ll join us!

The event, hosted by the PSKC Foundation and the Kidney Auxiliary of Puget Sound (KAPS), is a chance for members of our community to gather, hear inspirational stories from our patients and staff, and raise money for the vital care and education services we provide.

Proceeds from the Gift of Life event make a huge difference in supporting quality care at PSKC by providing:

  • KAPS patient bags and blankets for new patients
  • Nutritional supplements to help patients maintain a healthy balanced diet
  • Kidney health education in our community, teaching people about kidney disease and ways to prevent it
  • KAPS support of patient comfort and emergent needs
  • Equipment and furnishings to support quality care environments

We simply couldn’t put this event on without our amazing sponsors, gracious table hosts, generous donors, and incredible volunteers.

Thanks to all who made our 2022 event a success (see photos below!) and register online today for our 2023 Gift of Life dinner and auction–you won’t want to miss it!

How to Protect Your Kidneys This Summer

An incredible 33% of adult Americans are at risk of developing kidney disease which, when it reaches stage five (also called end-stage renal disease), requires regular dialysis treatments or a kidney transplant for survival.

The good news is, there is a lot you can do to prevent kidney disease from developing in the first place. Most of these lifestyle changes are especially doable in the summer, when the days are longer and it’s easier to spend time outdoors.

Here are our top five ways to protect your kidneys this summer:

1. Cook at home. Eating at home is one of the best ways to ensure you’re eating kidney-healthy food. While restaurant and some fast food establishments may seem healthy, most meals out are packed with salt—not good for the kidneys. If you cook at home, you can control the amount of sodium you consume (aim for 2,000mg or less a day) and thus keep your kidneys healthy. Remember, it’s not the salt shaker that’s usually the problem—it’s pre-packaged, processed, and restaurant foods that are loaded with salt, with many meals exceeding the entire daily sodium limit. Cook at home and flavor foods with spices and herbs instead of salt.

 

2. Exercise every day. Exercise is so important for kidney health. Even a little bit every day will make a big difference in your health and how you feel. If you haven’t exercised regularly, make sure to build up slowly. Start by walking,  stretching or lifting light weights. Gardening or taking an online yoga class are also great ways to work exercise into your daily routine. Make it a social outing as well by inviting friends over to walk around your neighborhood, or join a tennis or pickleball club. It’s never too late to learn a new sport! Working exercise into your day helps boost your mood and keep your kidneys healthy.

 

3. Stop smoking. Smoking can lead to many health problems, including chronic kidney disease. Smoking causes damage to your heart and blood vessels, which in turn leads to decreased blood flow to the kidneys. If this happens over time, it could cause irreversible damage to your kidneys. Quitting can be challenging but there are a number of resources available that can help. Help keep your kidneys healthy—talk to your doctor to help create a plan to stop smoking.

 

4. Manage blood pressure and diabetes. High blood pressure and diabetes are the two leading causes of chronic kidney disease. Controlling your blood pressure and managing your blood sugar are key to keeping your kidneys healthy. Keeping your blood pressure in the range set by your doctor, and keeping your blood sugar levels in your target range as much as possible, can help prevent damage to the kidneys.Talk to your doctor to make sure your diet and lifestyle choices and/or medication is helping you do this.

 

5. Reduce stress. Stress has a huge impact on our lives and our health. Research shows that spending time with people in the community helps lower stress, as does exercising, getting enough sleep, practicing breathing and meditation, and laughing. Lower your stress levels by spending time outside, joining a community group, spending time with family and friends, and focusing on living life in the moment.

 

That’s it—our five tips for promoting kidney health this summer. How do you plan to keep your kidneys healthy this summer? What lifestyle tips do you have? Let us know on InstagramFacebook and Twitter!

 

 

March is National Kidney Month! See five ways to help keep your kidneys healthy

It’s National Kidney Month, a time to raise awareness of kidney disease and how to prevent it. The kidneys are such important organs, filtering your blood, removing waste and helping your body maintain a balanced state. They help you balance electrolytes, maintain a normal pH level, control blood pressure, produce red blood cells, and maintain healthy bones.

High blood pressure and diabetes are the leading causes of kidney failure. If your kidneys fail, you need regular dialysis treatments or a kidney transplant to survive.

The good news is, simple lifestyle changes can help prevent kidney disease or slow it down. Here are our top five ways to keep your kidneys healthy:

1. Get tested. Ask your doctor for simple urine and blood tests to check your kidney function. Blood tests will give you your GFR, a number that shows how well your kidneys are working. Work with your doctor to get your kidney function checked on a regular basis.

 

2. Control your blood pressure. High blood pressure causes damage to your kidneys. Get your blood pressure checked regularly and work with your doctor on ways to control it. This is vital to keeping your kidneys healthy.

 

3. Manage your blood sugars. Diabetes is a leading cause of kidney failure. If you have diabetes, control your blood sugars to help prevent your kidney function from declining. Managing blood sugars also helps prevent heart disease and other health problems.

 

4. Follow a low-sodium diet. Eating a healthy diet can help keep your kidneys healthy. Too much salt in particular can cause damage. Aim for less than 2,000 milligrams of sodium each day. Avoid fast food and restaurant meals, as many are loaded with salt. Try instead to cook at home from scratch using herbs and spices for flavor instead of salt.

 

5. Exercise regularly. Time to get moving! Exercise can help you control your blood pressure, feel more energetic, and improve your mental health. Work with your doctor to create an exercise plan that works for you. At least 30 minutes of exercise each day is recommended, but keep in mind this can be spread out across the entire day.

 

Keeping your kidneys healthy, or slowing kidney disease down, can help you avoid or delay the need for dialysis. Work with your doctor on the five tips above to create a health plan that works for you. And make sure to follow us on on InstagramFacebook and Twitter for more tips on how to keep your kidneys healthy!

Meet Meg Paulson: overcoming adversity from the day she was born

Born with spina bifida and unable to walk, Meg has always faced challenges. When she started school, she was bussed to a special campus miles from her home and it wasn’t until the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 that she attended the neighborhood school. But even at her local school she was essentially warehoused in special ed programs that didn’t challenge her intellect, as they assumed her cognitive abilities were below average. But when she moved, age 10, to Australia—where children with disabilities were taught alongside “healthy children”— she was finally treated like everyone else.

She eventually moved back to the US, ending up in the Seattle area. After she graduated, finding a job was difficult, as climbing stairs to interview for jobs was not possible. But did this stop her? Absolutely not! Today Meg works for Able Environments, an organization dedicated to linking real estate buyers with mobility, sight, cognitive, or hearing impairments to accessible homes and amenities. Additionally, Meg has been a strong advocate for her community, serving as Miss Wheelchair Washington State in 2008, and has been actively involved with Paralympics and adaptive sports. She’s also served as executive director of the Spina Bifida Association, which prepares families who are new to spina bifida for the challenges that lay ahead by offering support and outreach.

Five years ago, Meg started dialysis and was challenged to balance her diet and fluids while also trying to feel good at the end of the day. She initially struggled with extra fluid weight but now realizes changes in her diet are what keep her feeling good. Meg says the most important way to keep fluid off is carefully planning what you eat and balancing salt intake as much as possible. She has been able to keep her dry weight consistent over the past five years, and attributes this success to keeping her water intake to a minimum. She loves to eat, but good food choices can make the difference, so she strongly advocates reading labels and encourages patients to work closely with available resources, including their dietitian, to devise a plan that works best for them.

When out advocating in the community, Meg says she usually receives three different responses: she’s either ignored, patronized, or accepted. She says people are still learning how to respond or react to people with disabilities, and that’s why educating and being an advocate is important and are major goals in her life.

Thank you, Meg, for all you do to build greater understanding and stronger communities!

The incredible impact nutritional supplements can have on people with kidney disease

Each year, donations and financial support received at our Gift of Life helps us provide nutritional supplements for patients who can’t afford them and will truly benefit from them. These patients may be struggling with food insecurities, are recovering from surgeries or illnesses, or need extra calories to maintain their nutrition health.

Our dietitians have several options for patients that qualify: Nepro, Boost, LPS (liquid protein supplement), protein bars, and protein powders. Each of these nutritional supplements help patients get the calories, protein and nutrients they need to heal and survive. Our patients have expressed great gratitude for having these available. Here are words of appreciation from just a few of them:

• A 90-year-old veteran of the three military branches had been underweight and was not able to make a meal before coming to dialysis. Jennifer, his dietitian, started him on Nepro every day to increase calories. She says: “He has gained three kilograms and is now having an English muffin with peanut butter, with his morning coffee. It has stimulated his appetite and his energy levels. He is still able to walk himself to and from his dialysis chair, which has been an encouragement to younger patients.”

• Kathryn, one of our dietitians, recalls how grateful one of her patients that lives in a nursing facility was to get protein bars. “I had tried getting the facility to provide the bars for her, but that wasn’t an option. She is appreciative of all we do to help her.”

• Lilly, another one of our dietitians, remembers how some Nepro and Boost supplements provided by PSKC helped a patient get through these hard times. “I have a patient who recently had hip surgery and has been dealing with the pain, which affects her appetite a lot. She has so many medical bills in the past few months, and she is not able to afford any protein supplements.”

A big thank you to all donors who have helped fund our nutrition supplement program! Your support has a major impact on the patients we serve.