Why It’s Important To Understand Diabetes and Kidney Health


For many of us, staying healthy is not a destination, it’s a journey. In addition to being moms we wear many hats: sister-in-law, daughter, wife, daughter-in-law, and maybe even a coach! We often put ourselves last on the list of priorities, especially if we’re looking after our own parents too.

It is so easy to stop caring for yourself or to get overwhelmed trying. But, when you stop caring for yourself, your ability to care for your child is impacted and your ability to enjoy motherhood may be affected.

Many of us have just come off a busy festival season with Diwali, Karva Chauth and even Eid in the fall. As we head into winter, following Diabetes Awareness Month, it’s a good time to take stock of our health and well-being.


You may  know that being South Asian puts you at an increased risk of diabetes, but did you know that people with diabetes, high blood pressure or who have a family history of kidney disease are at increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD)? [ia] 

Our kidneys are vital organs to our health, regardless of age.

Here are just some of the things our kidneys  do every day[ib]:

  • Remove waste and excess fluids from the body
  • Regulate the balance of fluids, salt, potassium and other minerals that are necessary for good health
  • Release hormones, which regulate blood pressure, red blood cell production and many other important tasks in the body

kidney disease

There are many risk factors for chronic kidney disease. Some you can control, such as smoking and lifestyle choices, while others are outside your control such as age or ethnicity.[ii] People of Aboriginal, Asian, South Asian, Pacific Island, African/Caribbean and Hispanic descent, for instance, are at higher risk for CKD.

An estimated 3.5 million Canadians are living with diabetes [iii], and up to 50% of people with diabetes may show signs of kidney damage.[iv]  Kidney disease in people with type 2 diabetes can start slowly and progress over a number of years – people might not experience any symptoms in the early stages.

They may have serious kidney damage without being aware of it, as it usually does not cause noticeable symptoms until about 75% or more of kidney function is lost.[v]

A recent survey of people with diabetes and people without diabetes showed that 44% of Canadians are not having a conversation about their kidney health with their physician.[vi]  If you or your loved one has diabetes, you should be tested at least once a year to see if diabetes has affected your kidneys. Your doctor can arrange urine and blood tests to check your kidney health.[vii]

Thankfully, there are things people with type 2 diabetes can do to help prevent kidney damage including:[viii]

  • Have urine, blood and blood pressure checked regularly by their doctor
  • Maintain good control of blood sugar
  • Control high blood pressure
  • Avoid smoking
  • Exercise regularly
  • Make healthy food choices
  • Avoid excess alcohol
  • Get enough sleep
  • Ask your doctor about treatments for type 2 diabetes that control blood sugar and can be taken at all stages of kidney function

Make the time to take stock of your health, and take the time to understand your risk when it comes to type 2 diabetes and kidney health by visiting www.kidney.ca/risk.


This article has been sponsored by the Boehringer Ingelheim-Lilly Canada Diabetes Alliance, but the opinions shared are my own.

[ia] The Kidney Foundation of Canada. “Risk Factors?” Risk Factors, 2017. Available at: https://www.kidney.ca/risk-factors 

[ib] The Kidney Foundation of Canada. “Why Kidneys Are Important?” Kidney Disease, 2017. Available at: http://www.kidney.cawhy-kidneys-are-important

[ii] The Kidney Foundation of Canada. “Risk Factors?” Risk Factors, 2017. Available at: https://www.kidney.ca/risk-factors

[iii] Diabetes Canada. “Diabetes in Canada”.  Diabetes Charter Backgrounder, October 2016. Available at: https://www.diabetes.ca/getmedia/513a0f6c-b1c9-4e56-a77c-6a492bf7350f/diabetes-charter-backgrounder-national-english.pdf.aspx

[iv] Diabetes Canada. “Kidney Disease”. Diabetes Complications, January 2017. Available at: https://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/complications/kidney-disease

[v] The Kidney Foundation of Canada. “Diabetes and Kidney Disease”.  Information Guide, 2009. Available at: https://www.kidney.ca/document.doc?id=298

[vi] Kidneys Matter in Diabetes: The GP vs Patient Perspectives Survey. September 2014. slide 21

[vii] The Kidney Foundation of Canada. “Diabetes and Kidney Disease”. Kidney Disease, August, 2015. Available at: https://www.kidney.ca/sslpage.aspx?pid=322

[viii] Ibid.

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