Free Kidney Smart class available

By | July 2, 2018 8:51 am

Kidney Smart classes are 4 p.m., every third Tuesday, at DaVita Dialysis, 150 Sam Walton Dr., Suite 800, in Sparta. (Photo by RIMA AUSTIN)

Chronic kidney disease symptoms are hard to detect and develop slowly.

Some people do not develop symptoms at all, and the illness is only detected through a blood test. After being diagnosed with kidney disease, a person can feel overwhelmed. It is for this reason that medical social worker Nancy Swanson teaches the Kidney Smart class at DaVita Dialysis, in Sparta. In this class, she explains the process of controlling the kidney disease. Her office partner, dietician Ginger Robbins, assists her with a dietary plan for patients who have to come to DaVita to receive treatment.

“There are two main reasons why people end up on dialysis, not the only reasons but the main reasons,” said Swanson. “It’s high blood pressure that is not controlled, and diabetes that is not controlled.”

Swanson and Robbins both agree there are habits that everyone could be forming now to curb, and possibly prevent altogether, having to go on dialysis in the future. Diet is a very important one. Swanson stated she touches briefly on food choices during the 90-minute class, but that a good source for kidney-friendly recipes are on

Robbins explained that if one is not on dialysis already, then red meat should be eaten sparingly, if at all. She explains that protein sparing in one’s diet is ideal, but if someone feels compelled to eat protein, eat less red meat and more fish and chicken. Both Swanson and Robbins suggested consulting with one’s physician before starting any kind of diet as well.

“I had a Kidney Smart student tell me that she went on the Ketogenic diet,” said Swanson. “She said it killed her kidney.”

Robbins added that the Ketogenic diet is not a good diet for anyone to be on for a long period of time because it is high in protein and therefore high in fat. She stressed that in addition to lowering protein consumption a person should exercise daily, stop smoking, and lower phosphorus intake. She explained that a kidney cannot get rid of phosphorus, which is found in protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, nuts, beans, and dairy.

Anyone interested in taking the free Kidney Smart class can call the DaVita Sparta Dialysis Center at (931) 739-3550. The classes will be 4 p.m., every third Tuesday, at the Sparta location. Swanson also teaches the same class at 4:30 p.m., every third Thursday, at the Putnam County Library.

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