Creatinine is a waste chemical product of muscle metabolism that is produced from creatine. Under normal circumstances, creatinine is removed from the body via the urine after the kidneys filter it out of the blood. However, certain health problems can hinder this function, causing harmful amounts of creatinine to build up. There are several ways that you can lower your creatinine levels, including changing your diet, using herbal remedies, changing your lifestyle, and taking medications.
Causes and Symptoms of High Creatinine Levels
When discussing how to lower creatinine levels, it is important to know the causes of increased creatinine levels. Causes of high creatinine levels include dehydration, excessive exercise, ACE inhibitors, NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, high blood pressure, kidney disease, thyroid issues and excessive blood loss.
Increased muscle building, taking creatine as a dietary supplement and eating increased amounts of red meat also result in increased creatinine levels.
Some symptoms of high creatinine levels are nausea, lack of appetite, vomiting, frequent urination at night, tiredness, itchy skin, a darker color in the urine, and difficulty breathing.
How to Lower Creatinine Levels
1. Drink Lots of Water
As a general rule, you should drink 8-10 glasses of water each day. Dehydration can actually cause your creatinine levels to increase.
When you do not have enough fluid in your body, you produce less urine. Creatinine is washed out of your system through urine, so producing less urine will make it more difficult to flush out this toxin.
Luckily, there is an easy way to prevent this from happening: drink more water. Drinking more water means more urination, which means more creatinine released from your body.
On the other hand, consuming too much fluid could also have a negative effect on your kidney functions. Too much fluid could cause an increase in blood pressure, and high blood pressure can put stress on your kidneys.
Unless otherwise instructed by a doctor, it is best to keep yourself hydrated but to avoid abnormal amounts of fluid intake.
2. Limit Your Protein Intake
Creatinine is formed through a series of metabolic reactions that occur as protein is broken down into amino acids, and from the breakdown of the muscle component creatine, which is also found in meat. Thus, higher amounts of dietary protein can increase creatinine in the blood and limiting high protein foods such as meat, poultry, fish, milk and cheese may help lower creatinine levels.
Avoid high-protein foods as much as possible. Diary products and red meat can be especially bad for someone already dealing with abnormally high creatinine. When you do consume protein, try to obtain it from plant-based sources, like nuts and other legumes.
Note that you do need protein in your diet to maintain adequate amounts of energy and keep your bodily functions running smoothly, so you should not cut it out completely.
3. Limit Your Sodium Intake
Excessive sodium can cause an unhealthy amount of water retention, which leads to less frequent urination and higher creatinine levels in the body. Try to stay away from foods with excessive sodium, such as fatty foods, fast foods and heavily processed items.
- Maintain a low-sodium diet. Opt for low-sodium versions of common food products (canned soup, bottled sauces, etc.) when available.
- It is also a good idea to limit the amount of salt you add to already prepared meals at lunch or dinner table.
4. Avoid High Potassium and Phosphorus
If you have a kidney disease, your potassium and phosphorus levels are likely higher than normal. For this reason, avoiding foods rich in potassium (avocados, chocolates, prunes, nuts) and phosphorus (bran, cheese, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, bacon) helps lower creatinine levels.
5. Increase Your Fiber Intake
According to a review article published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1), researchers concluded that dietary fiber could lower creatinine levels. The researchers hypothesized that the mechanism behind this may be fiber’s ability to aid in the breakdown of creatinine before it reaches the kidneys. Fiber is found in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and beans.
If your kidney function is already impaired, adding fiber to your diet can be challenging because high-fiber foods are naturally high in potassium and phosphorus, and in some people with advanced kidney failure, these nutrients also need to be restricted in the diet. So it’s important for anyone with kidney disease to receive ongoing education and nutrition therapy from a dietitian who specializes in kidney disease.
6. Avoid Creatine Supplements
Supplying extra creatine to the body is potentially dangerous, as it increases the pressure on our kidneys and may cause heart problems or muscle cramps. Since creatinine is a waste product of creatine, taking creatine supplements will result in a greater build-up of creatinine in your blood (2).
If you are worried about how to lower creatinine levels fast, stop taking creatine supplements immediately.
7. Restrict Your Activity Level
The body converts food into energy faster when it undergoes vigorous exercise. As a result, more creatinine is formed, causing blood creatinine levels to increase.
Exercise can still offer important health benefits overall, so you may not want to exclude it from your routine completely. You should swap out high intensity exercises for low intensity ones, however. Instead of running, try walking or practicing yoga.
Home Remedies to Lower Creatinine Levels
There are some herbs that act as natural diuretics and thus help lower your creatinine levels. You can follow these herbal remedies daily for a few weeks or until your creatinine levels are lowered.
1. Nettle Leaf
Nettle leaf may help increase your renal excretion, witch will help eliminate excess amounts of creatinine. Nettles contain flavonoids and histamines, which can help increase the blood flow to your kidneys, thus increasing urine filtration.
- Nettle leaves can be made into tea or can be taken in the form of supplements.
2. Dandelion Root
Dandelion root tea works as a natural diuretic to promote renal excretion and lower creatinine levels. It also helps improve kidney function and help you get rid of fluid retention. Drink dandelion root tea 2-3 times daily for a few weeks.
Note: Dandelion may interact with diabetes and high blood pressure medications.
3. Chamomile Tea
A study published in the Journal of Agriculture Food Chemicals (3) found decreased creatinine levels in study participants who drank chamomile tea. Drinking a few cups of chamomile tea can help lower your creatinine levels.
4. Barley Water
- Add one cup of barley in one liter of water and boil it for at least 30 minutes.
- Strain and drink it slowly.
- Drink it daily.
- You can also replace refined flour in your diet with barley flour.
Note: Check with your doctor before taking this remedy as it may not be suitable for you if you are on a potassium restricted diet.
5. Corn Silk
Corn silk is an anti-inflammatory agent and it acts as a natural diuretic (4). It helps increase urine output, thus aiding in lowering creatinine levels. It also lowers high blood pressure and reduces edema.
- Put two teaspoons of dried corn silk in a cup and pour boiling water over it.
- Cover and let it to steep for 10-15 minutes.
- Strain and drink this tea three times a day.
Note: Do not use this remedy if you are allergic to corn or have a history of liver or kidney disease.
Due to its diuretic properties, cinnamon helps promote renal filtration ability. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels, thus preventing further renal damage.
Incorporate cinnamon in your diet by adding it to smoothies, warm beverages, baked goods, cereals and other foods.
Salvia is an herb that may increase your glomerular filtration rate, which helps facilitate the elimination of creatinine. It contains lithospermate B, which helps promote renal function.
- Do not take salvia without consulting your doctor.
Medical Solutions to Lower Creatinine Levels
Take medications for high creatinine levels. Ketosteril is often prescribed to lower creatinine levels. Talk to your doctor about this medication and if it may be right for you. Other creatinine lowering drugs include:
- Chitosan is a weight management supplement that can also lower creatinine in the blood.
- Alpha lipoic acid (anti-oxidants) supplements can be used to help energize the kidneys and neutralize toxins, including creatinine.
Check other medications. Depending on the underlying cause of your elevated creatinine levels and on your overall health, your doctor may advise you to include certain medications or supplements to lower creatinine levels.
- Most medications that lower creatinine levels also treat an underlying problem causing an increase in those levels, so your doctor will have to diagnose the underlying condition before you can determine which medication is right for you.
Lower your blood pressure with medication. One common cause of kidney damage, and thus elevated creatinine levels, is hypertension. Keeping your blood pressure under control will also help prevent further damage to your kidneys, thus helping lower your creatinine levels.
- Your doctor may prescribe benazepril and hydrochlorothiazide.
Take hypoglycemic medications. Aside from hypertension, diabetes is another factor that can contribute to kidney damage. If you have diabetes, it is very important to keep your insulin levels normal to prevent further kidney damage. There are certain medications that you can take to do this.
- Repaglinide is a commonly prescribed hypoglycemic drug.
- Always consult a doctor before deciding on a course of treatment. Every individual has different health needs, so these guidelines may not work for everyone. Some could even cause a decline in overall health depending on your own specific circumstances.