KYW Medical Reports Sponsored By Independence Blue Cross

By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – There are many advantages to a low-fat, heart-healthy diet: it is great for the heart and can help fight diabetes and in addition to that it can also ward off kidney disease. What many people do not know is that there is a link between diabetes and heart disease. Diabetes causes more cases of serious kidney disease than any other factor. Currently, 180,000 Americans live with both diabetes and kidney failure. They require either dialysis—a treatment that uses a machine to filter blood—or a kidney transplant.

When people start having kidney problems, doctors often advise cutting back on sodium and protein. These changes may reduce the workload on your weakened kidneys. There are other things you can do:  aim for three to five servings of vegetables per day. Choose those with bright colors, such as green peppers and vibrant orange carrots.

Swap out some of your starches and grains for fruit.  And when you have grains choose whole grains. They contain more nutrients than products made with refined white flour. Healthy examples include 100-percent whole-wheat crackers and bread, brown rice, and popcorn.