This year World Kidney Day has its theme as ‘Kidney Disease and Obesity’. The aim of this global awareness is to promote education about the harmful consequences of obesity and its association with kidney disease, advocating healthy lifestyle and health policy measures that make preventive behaviors an affordable option.
Obesity is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health. Obesity increases the risk of developing major risk factors of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), like diabetes and hypertension, and it has a direct impact on the development of CKD and end stage renal disease (ESRD): in individuals affected by obesity, the kidneys have to work harder, filtering more blood than normal (hyperfiltration) to meet the metabolic demands of the increased body weight. The increase in function can damage the kidney and raise the risk of developing CKD in the long-term.
The good news is that obesity, as well as CKD, is largely preventable. Education and awareness of the risks of obesity and a healthy lifestyle, including proper nutrition and exercise, can dramatically help in preventing obesity and kidney disease.
Chronic Kidney Disease and End Stage Renal Disease are managed using maintenance dialysis and ultimately renal transplant, both of which are expensive, protracted and without certainties.
Here is how to prevent getting there at all. 8 golden rules to protect your kidneys and live a long healthy life.
- Keep regular control of your blood sugar. About 50% of people with Diabetes will develop kidney damage. Make sure you are doing all you can to stay in control! You may have diabetes but you do not need to come down with chronic kidney disease, be proactive and maintain tight blood glucose control.
- Monitor your blood pressure. Although many people may be aware that high blood pressure can lead to a stroke or heart attack, few know that it is also the most common cause of kidney damage. The normal blood pressure level is 120/80. Between this level and 139/89, you are considered prehypertensive and should adopt lifestyle and dietary changes. At 140/90 and above, you should discuss the risks with your doctor and montior your blood pressure level regularly. High blood pressure is especially likely to cause kidney damage when associated with other factors like diabetes, high cholesterol and Cardio- Vascular Diseases.
- Keep fit and active. Staying active helps in many areas to keep your kidneys healthy as well as promotes positive mood and weight loss. Sitting for more than 5 hours a day is a loose definition of sedentary lifestyle. Deliberately walk, jog, dance, keep fit and prevent being overweight or obese which predisposes you to kidney disease in the future.
- Eat healthy and keep your weight in check. Making good food choices will go hand in hand with staying active to reduce weight and encourage good health. Bring on the colours and rainbow foods with varying fresh fruits and vegetables. Reduce your salt intake. Discipline yourself against processed foods off the shelf and fried/junk foods which is also known to have high salt content. If it is fast, cheap and not fresh it is not good for you, remember your kidneys will have to do more work to handle the toxins.
- Water, water, water! Keeping hydrated is good for your skin as well as your kidneys. Staying hydrated flushes the toxins out of the kidneys and reduces the chance of kidney stones. An average of 2.5 – 3 litres of water over 24 hours is recommended.
- No Smoking! Smoking is bad in many ways, but for the kidneys, the chance of developing cancer in them increases by 50% for smokers. Smoking slows the flow of blood to the kidneys. When less blood reaches the kidneys, it impairs their ability to function properly.
- Stay away from over-the-counter medicine for chronic issues. Many over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen can harm your kidneys if taken regularly. It is ok to take for emergencies, but see a physician if you are having chronic pain for options that will not cause harm. In our climes, herbal and alternative medicines are now rampant, having a NAFDAC number does not make such products safe. Herbal concoctions are the leading causes of kidney damage in Nigeria! Avoid them.
- Get your kidney function checked if you have one or more of the ‘high risk’ factors
- you have diabetes
- you have hypertension
- you are obese
- one of your parents or other family members suffers from kidney disease
- you are of African, Asian, or Aboriginal origin