How to lower your creatinine levels through diet and exercise

Chia seeds
To lower creatinine eat more fiber from whole foods like chia seeds. mchin/Shutterstock
  • Lower creatinine levels by avoiding creatine in your diet and eat more fiber and less protein.
  • You can also limit intense exercise and try supplements like chitosan.
  • High creatinine levels may be a sign of kidney disease, so see a doctor for a diagnosis.
  • Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.

Creatinine is a chemical produced in the body as a result of routine muscle wear and tear. Usually, it passes through the bloodstream, is filtered through the kidneys, and excreted from the body through urination, says Nikola Djordjevic, MD, a family doctor and co-founder of MedAlertHelp.org.

As a waste product, creatinine can be used to measure the function of your kidneys, and the creatinine level in your blood is a good indicator of your overall kidney function, Djordjevic says. A high level of creatinine in the blood can be indicative of kidney disease. This is because impaired kidney function results in increased creatinine levels, as the kidneys aren’t able to filter it out effectively.

If left untreated, high levels of creatinine can lead to uremia, a life-threatening condition involving high levels of waste products in the blood. If you have high creatinine levels, your doctor will recommend the best course of treatment to address the underlying cause of your kidney problems. You can also make the following lifestyle changes to lower creatinine levels.

1. Don’t take creatine

Your body produces creatinine when it breaks down creatine, a substance produced by amino acids in the body, and also found in protein-rich foods like fish and meat. Creatine helps provide energy to the muscles and is stored in the brain, kidneys, and liver.

Creatine is also a popular supplement among athletes and weight-lifters to build muscle and enhance performance. High doses found in some bodybuilding supplements have resulted in elevated creatinine levels, though not necessarily impaired kidney function.

Still, since creatine supplementation may increase creatinine levels, those looking to lower creatinine levels should not take this supplement. While there are generally few side effects, you may want to get a kidney test before starting a creatine supplement, Djordjevic says, and have a doctor recommend a dose based on your kidney function and medical history.

2. Limit intense exercise

Vigorous, high-intensity exercise – like weight lifting or circuit training – can increase creatinine levels in your bloodstream. If you are concerned about creatinine levels, you should discuss less intense workout options with your doctor, Djordjevic says.

Generally, people with chronic kidney conditions should opt for less strenuous exercise routines to keep their kidney function in balance. This can include:

3. Eat more fiber and less protein

Dietary changes can be helpful in lowering creatinine levels, Djordjevic says. In particular, you should cut out dense proteins, like red meat. Red meat is essentially muscle tissue that contains creatine. That creatine breaks down into creatinine during the cooking process, and your body absorbs it when you eat red meat.

Eating more fiber-rich foods can also help decrease the amount of creatinine in the body, because fiber helps remove toxins and other chemical waste byproducts. For example, a 2014 study showed a significant decrease in creatinine levels among 143 participants with chronic kidney disease who increased their fiber intake.

If you’re worried about creatinine levels, avoid high-protein foods, like:

  • Red meat
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs

Instead, try to eat more fiber-rich foods, like:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Whole grains

4. Try supplements like chitosan

Chitosan is a dietary supplement most commonly used for weight loss and cholesterol control. Some studies have indicated it may also be effective in reducing creatinine levels in people with renal failure, which happens when your kidneys can no longer filter waste.

For example, a 2011 study examined the effects of chitosan on 80 patients with renal failure. Half of the patients were given 30 chitosan tablets three times a day, resulting in significant reductions in creatinine levels after four weeks compared with the patients in the control group.

Before taking chitosan to lower creatinine levels, you should discuss with your doctor whether it is a good choice for you and how much you should take. While chitosan may help lower creatinine levels, more research is needed to prove the effectiveness of these supplements and examine potential side effects, Djordjevic says.

Insider’s takeaway

High levels of creatinine are indicative of a kidney problem, which should be treated in order to lower your creatinine levels and decrease the risk of other complications.

You should visit a doctor to determine the best course of treatment for your kidney issues. In addition to the lifestyle changes mentioned above, a doctor may recommend undergoing dialysis, which artificially flushes out toxins and waste products from your kidneys, or medications that can help manage symptoms.

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