Apps to help PKD patients manage daily diet and health

Director of Community Engagement, Nicole Harr

Have you ever used an app to help manage living with PKD? There’s an app for everything these days! Why not use an app to help make the best nutrition choices while shopping at the grocery store and track important information for disease management? Our Director of Community Engagement, Nicole Harr, uses an app to organize her recipes, keeping all of her favorite recipes at her fingertips when she shops. Lately, Nicole has been trying out other apps to help her track nutrition needs and more as she manages living with PKD. Here are a few she has tried and her thoughts on each:

Health Apps
Many mobile phones now have health apps. These apps usually help track fitness information, calorie intake, water intake, etc. iPhone users have a Health app, Samsung users have S Health and Google users have Google Fit right on the home screen. I have to admit, I have had an iPhone for years and just recently launched the Health app and took a tour! This app provides a single view of all your health information and, depending on your privacy settings, you can sync the Health app to other apps that you may be using. Importantly, you can enable viewing of your Medical ID in an emergency. If you are looking to give a health app a try, you might want to start by checking out apps that your phone already has installed.

When managing PKD, there are many factors that patients may want to track. More and more, I am looking to my phone to keep information such as medication list, physician contact information and medical history at my fingertips. I even keep a list of questions I want to ask my doctor at my next visit in my notes! Since I never leave home without it, it makes sense to keep information that I may need logged in my phone.

Kidney Diet Food
I have found this app to be easy to use and very useful, but it does have a few limitations. There are so many things that kidney patients need to track in their diet such as phosphorus, proteins, sodium and potassium. This app makes it really easy to check the nutritional content in foods you like. Just choose a category and scroll through the food options listed. You can also add foods to a favorites list for easy access. While this app does provide great nutritional information, it doesn’t track your daily consumption for you. Most of the options listed are general and not specific brands, so you may still want to check the nutrition label on the specific items you purchase.

Fooducate is a free app and website that evaluates various foods. This app uses an algorithm to grade foods. The more natural, healthy and less processed a food is, the higher a grade it will receive. You can actually scan a product’s barcode to find out information about that food. You can also look up foods by name. If the product has a low score, an alternative list is available. This app lets you browse through foods by category if you prefer. This app can be very helpful for making good food choices and cutting down on the time you may need to read nutrition labels and compare items while shopping.

HealthyOut helps take the guess work out of finding a healthy meal when you want to eat at a restaurant. Just put in your zip code and browse for options near you. Click on the restaurant that looks good and their healthy options are listed. You can also get directions, check the restaurant’s website and hours or even give the restaurant a call.

Blood Pressure Companion
As a PKD patient, blood pressure control is very important. Do you take blood pressure readings at home? Having an app on your phone is a great way to keep up with blood pressure readings because you know your nephrologist is going to ask you how your blood pressure has been since your last visit! Blood Pressure Companion is a free app that tracks your blood pressure readings and heart rate, reminds you to measure your blood pressure and reminds you of your doctor appointments. You can even share your readings with your doctor through the app.

Medisafe is an app that helps you keep track of medications. Enter all your medications, doses and the time that you should take each medication and this app will send you an alert when it is time to take your medication. It will also let you know when it is time to reorder your medications. Medisafe will also track other measurements for you such as blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, creatinine, eGFR, pain and more. This app can also keep track of doctors and appointments.

It takes a little time and some trial and error but using apps can support a healthy and busy lifestyle. Apps can help provide us with nutritional information and track all sorts of important information, but the responsibility is still ours. Of course, apps cannot replace the advice provided by physicians and dietitians. Please always consult with your health care team if you are planning to make changes to your diet or fitness routine.

If you are using apps to help encourage healthy lifestyle choices, please share your favorites in the comments below. We would love to know what is working for you!



  1. Dwight Odland

    This is great Nicole! I just shared this on the LA PKD Chapter Facebook page.

    • Nicole Harr

      Great! Thanks, Dwight. I hope these apps are helpful and I also hope that readers respond with their favorites!

  2. Paigey Paige

    Thanks Nicole, this is excellent! I will be sharing this. #wewillwinthefightagainstpkd

  3. Joan Green

    These are great ideas. I wonder if there is. Not an IT persomewhere who could get a grant to develop a PKD app. Think about it. It could list sub specialties or give you the option to add them: cardio, Nephrologist, liver, pcp, palliative care, psychiatrist, pain management, osteoporosis, after contact info t you could put specific med and it’s purpose and side effects. You could have an active medical colander that could sync with iPhone calendar. You have list of procedures w comments.
    We all have epic now. It’s supposed to create an electronic personal medical record that allows Drs from one place to access the notes from a diff place. It still has way to many links. I have been told that I need to keep a paper copy of my medical record and then when I go to Mayo next month to give them their own paper copy. I hate that epic doesnot show the patient the same information that the dr sees. But if you ask for a copy of your record then you get it all. Also you need 2 copies of every scan because you need to own your own. Why isn’t there a universal healthcare app where it is totally customizable. You could pay a la cart. Then it could connect you to medical dictionaries and sub specialties information. Also why is it so difficult to identify a PKD dr in your community. There is not an index of nephrologists with sub specialties listed. At least give us the honest integrity to say I don’t know but I can try to find it out. Instead of your 60 you have PKD what else is there to know or do. When your kidney fails well make a de Scion about dialysis. Much of my despair this past year has come from the subtle attitude of my different physicians. Oh how quality of life would improve if instead Drs said you have PKD. Let’s see if there is anything nothing you physically , emotionally or psychologically that I might be able to help you deal with today! That would be much more professional treatment that working from the perspective of a cure. I can’t fix unlucky..oh well that’s my 10 mins. See you in three months! My apologies…PKD does that to me. I start out so positive an app would be doing something and I wind up with a curmudgeon of a dr. This year I am changing that to find Drs capable of empathy..and maybe someone will make an app for PKD!

  4. Joan Green

    It’s really annoying to have that green box keep popping up asking for a donation. Most of us on this website are making donations and giving support in many other ways. Let it pop up once and then once we X it . Stop bringing it back. , why make PKD more annoying….hey! For just a $1 donation we will stop all future popups for donations on this web Sight! Especially if you already are a PKD national and chapter member!


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