Chronic kidney disease affects millions of people, radically curtailing their quality of lives and forcing them to live on the edge, and is a major health concern worldwide. The affected people lead difficult lives, dreading the eventuality of dialysis or the need for transplantation.
When it comes to kidney disease, the discussion is limited to improving dialysis facilities and access for donors; very little is spoken about improving lifestyles to reduce the risk of kidney disease in our population. Hence it is imperative that we educate people about the same. Here are a few simple steps that one can follow on a daily basis for healthier kidneys:
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Know Your Family Medical History: Knowing is half the job done as it prepares you to do something about your risk factors. Talk to a doctor about how it puts you at greater risk and what preventive steps you should take in case your parents or relatives have kidney disease. If you are at greater risk, make sure you get your kidney functions tested to know about the health of your kidneys. Often, many people discover they have renal disease with no symptoms.
Keep Your Blood Sugar Level Under Check: Having diabetes compounds your chances of developing kidney disease. A large number of diabetes patients suffer kidney failure and need dialysis or organ transplant. It is therefore important to keep your blood sugar levels controlled well. It is also important for people with diabetes to have regular kidney function tests to detect an anomaly early. Kidney damage from diabetes can be reduced or prevented if detected early.
Manage Blood Pressure: Hypertension puts you at greater risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease; it also increases your risk of developing kidney damage. The risk is multiplied if you are both a diabetic as well as suffer from hypertension. If you have a family history of hypertension and kidney disease, keep a strict check over your blood pressure. Manage it by living a healthy life and strictly adhering to advised medication. Maintain your cholesterol levels.
Live An Active Life: Lack of physical activity is behind a spurt of a large number of lifestyle diseases in India, as it is across the world. Leading sedentary lives makes us more prone to developing hypertension, heart disease, obesity and also developing diabetes. Pre-diabetics who are at an increased risk of turning diabetic can control their blood sugar levels by exercising daily for half an hour. Exercising also helps keep cholesterol, blood pressure and weight in check. Being overweight increases your risk of developing diabetes and high blood pressure, which are major risk factors for kidney disease.
Eat Healthy: Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables keeps you safe from multiple diseases. Eating healthy helps in reducing the consumption of food items that are rich in empty calories, and reducing your salt intake. Cut down on processed and packaged foods and eat light and fresh. Consult a dietician to advise you on adopting a kidney friendly diet.
Quit Harmful Habits: Excessive drinking doesn't just cause damage to the liver; it also increases the risk of kidney damage. Similarly, excessive smoking doesn't just harm the lungs, but also affects kidney health.
Maintain A Healthy Fluid Intake: We all know how important drinking sufficient water is for the health of the body and kidneys. Consuming plenty of water and other fluids helps the kidneys clear sodium, urea and other toxins from the body in a healthy way and keeps the kidneys in good health.
Consume Kidney Safe Drugs: Excessive intake of over-the-counter pills, painkillers and analgesics such as ibuprofen is not a healthy practice. Some of these drugs can harm the kidneys when consumed on a regular basis. People with arthritis or other such painful condition often need painkillers on a regular basis. Make sure your doctor prescribes your drugs, not your friendly chemist.
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Take Daily Probiotics: Probiotics (good bacteria) help your kidneys process waste materials and contribute to overall digestive health. It has been proven that probiotics not only improve kidney function but also the overall quality of life.
Lower Your Phosphorus Intake: When kidneys don't work well, phosphorus accumulates in the body, causing potentially serious conditions, such as bone and heart disorders, as well as calcification (hardening) of tissues. Avoid consumption of products with high phosphorus content like carbonated soft drinks and prepared, processed foods. You only need 800 mg to 1,200 mg of phosphorus each day; higher amounts are flushed from the body by healthy kidneys.
MBBS & MD Chief Nephrologist
Dr. S. Sundar, holds the position of Director and Chief Nephrologist of the Karnataka Nephrology and Transplant Institute. He is currently the Chief Ne phrologist at the Columbia Asia Hospitals