Your kidneys are responsible for filtering waste and extra water from your blood in the form of urine. These bean-shaped organs also regulate blood pressure and calcium levels, and control production of red blood cells. Early kidney disease may have no symptoms.

Symptoms of more progressive kidney disease include:

• Swelling of hands or feet

• Puffy eyes

• Loss of appetite

• Fatigue

• Difficulty thinking clearly

Who’s at risk?

• People with diabetes

• People with high blood pressure

• People with a family history of kidney disease

Treatment: these are general guidelines – diet must be individualized

• Keep diabetes under strict control. Excessive sugar in the blood will make the kidneys work harder to filter it out. ACE inhibitors are commonly used to help prevent problems with the kidneys.

• Keep hypertension under control.

• Limit protein to no more than six ounces a day. Protein makes the kidneys work harder.

• Do not overeat high-sodium foods such as processed foods or convenience foods, cold cuts and soups.

• Reduce high-phosphorous foods like beans and wheat products.

• Reduce high-potassium foods like tomatoes and potatoes. You may leach a percentage of potassium out of potatoes by cutting them into quarters and soaking them in water for 3 hours or overnight.

• See a dietitian to advise a diet unique to your condition. You must focus on preserving the kidneys. At some point you may be required to have dialysis (a machine works to do the kidneys’ job) or a kidney transplant.