The blood needs to be as clean as possible for the body to function at its best. Blood that is high in creatinine puts a person at risk for potentially life-threatening kidney disorders, such as uremia.
Doctors often use a creatinine test to determine how well the kidney is functioning, as high creatinine levels in the blood or urine may signal a problem with the kidney.
The best way to lower creatinine levels is to treat the underlying cause. There are also many diet and lifestyle changes that can help to reduce creatinine.
What causes high creatinine levels?
Treatments for high creatinine levels range from eating less red meat and avoiding strenuous exercise, to drinking natural diuretics.
Routine blood tests can measure creatinine levels. A doctor will usually order more than one test to diagnose high creatinine, because some medications, supplements, and foods can temporarily raise the levels of creatinine in the body.
High creatinine levels can also occur as a result of consuming a lot of protein or doing heavy exercise.
If multiple tests show that a person has abnormally high levels of creatinine in their body, it may be a sign that their kidneys are not working properly.
A serious infection may have damaged the kidneys, or the person may be suffering from poor circulation. Reduced blood flow or low blood pressure caused by artery disease or severe dehydration can also damage the kidneys.
People with chronic kidney disease may also show signs of high creatinine.
It is also possible for the filter in the kidney, called the glomerulus, to be damaged. If a person has a high blood creatinine level but a low urine creatinine level, it might be a sign that the glomerulus is not working efficiently.
Certain diseases may also affect the kidney and glomerulus and could lead to high creatinine levels. These include:
- autoimmune disorders, such as lupus
- Goodpasture syndrome
- muscular dystrophy
- blood loss caused by shock
It is essential for everybody with high creatinine levels to work directly with their doctor to take steps towards treating the underlying condition that is causing the problem. It is also a good idea to begin working on reducing the creatinine levels naturally.
Diet tips to lower creatinine
There are several dietary changes a person can make to reduce creatinine levels, including:
Reducing protein intake
Choosing plant sources of protein, such as beans, nuts, and tofu, may reduce creatinine levels.
Consuming too much protein can cause a temporary spike in creatinine levels, even in a person who is otherwise healthy. In someone who already has heightened creatinine levels, it can increase levels further.
Cooked red meat seems to be particularly troublesome. Red meat is the muscle tissue of the animal, which naturally contains creatine. Cooking this meat causes the creatine to break down into creatinine, so when a person eats the meat, their creatinine levels will rise.
People who regularly consume large quantities of protein may have higher creatinine levels in their body. A person can address this by reducing the amount of red meat and dairy products they consume, or by swapping them for vegetable proteins, such as beans.
Increasing dietary fiber
Most people know that eating fiber helps balance the digestive system, but fiber may also be beneficial for people reducing their creatinine levels.
A systematic review in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition noted that dietary fiber helped people with chronic kidney disease lower their creatinine levels.
The researchers called for more long-term studies to be done on the subject, but this initial research makes a strong case for including fiber in the diet.
Many plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, seeds, and whole grains contain fiber.
Being mindful of liquid intake
While too much fluid intake can be a problem for people with kidney disease, dehydration and lack of fluids can raise creatinine levels in the body. It is best for a person to work directly with their healthcare practitioner to determine the amount of liquid they should drink.
If water is not enjoyable to drink, try adding a slice of lemon or cucumber to the water to make it more flavorful. Many people find they can increase their intake of liquids by drinking herbal teas and green tea.
Considering chitosan supplements
Chitosan is an ingredient in a range of weight loss blends or supplements designed for cholesterol.
One study noted chitosan significantly reduced the creatinine in rats that had kidney failure.
Chitosan supplements may be a good choice for people looking to reduce their creatinine levels naturally, but it is always best to discuss the right options with a doctor before taking any supplement.
Avoiding creatine-based supplements
While some supplements can help lower creatinine levels, others may make it worse. For instance, many athletes and bodybuilders take supplements containing creatine to give their muscles more endurance.
Muscles use creatine for energy, but if it goes unused, it will get converted into creatinine.
People who have high creatinine levels should avoid creatine and creatine supplements.
There are many herbs and herbal remedies on the market with a variety of health claims. It is important to note that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have not approved many of these herbs to treat any medical conditions.
Salvia is one of the most notable herbs that is used to treat high creatinine levels. It is often used in traditional Chinese medicine to help people with kidney disorders.
A recent study found that salvia can protect people from certain kinds of renal failure, which may help to strengthen the kidney so that it can process creatinine.
Salvia has psychoactive properties, so it should be used with caution and under the guidance of a doctor.
Other natural diuretics could help support the elimination of creatinine in the body, but anybody who wants to try them should always talk to a doctor beforehand, especially if the person is taking medications.
Common natural herbs that might be helpful include:
Lifestyle tips for reducing creatinine
In addition to watching what goes into the body, it is important to adjust behaviors to help reduce creatinine levels even further.
Cutting back on strenuous exercise
Strenuous exercise, such as weight training or resistance exercise, may cause high creatinine levels.
Muscle activity produces creatinine; the more the muscles work, the more creatinine is in the blood. While regular exercise is essential for good health, overexertion can cause the creatinine levels in the blood to spike.
A 2012 study noted that intense exercise increased creatinine levels in the bloodstream temporarily. It may be best for people to avoid strenuous activity until they have completed any treatment for the cause of the high creatinine levels.
However, people should not avoid exercise altogether, except in some extreme circumstances.
To maintain their exercise regimen, people who like weight training or resistance exercises could switch to yoga and body weight exercises during treatment. People who prefer cardio exercises, such as running or cycling, could consider changing to walking or swimming.
The outlook for high creatinine levels is good in many cases, especially if a person works with a doctor to outline a manageable treatment plan.
Making changes in the diet and lifestyle often leads to reduced creatinine levels, but treating the underlying cause is the only way to be sure the levels stay balanced in the long-term.