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:
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!