Do you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of kidney failure? Or are you obese, over the age of 60, a smoker, dealing with frequent kidney stones or cardiovascular disease? If you are, you’re not alone–one third of America is just like you: at risk of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).
CKD describes a condition in which permanent damage to the kidneys limits function which can further deteriorate over time. Once progressed to an unsustainable point, CKD evolves into End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), also known as kidney failure. One of the 10 most prominent killers of Americans, ESRD kills 13 Americans per day. Yes, the inevitable is postponable with dialysis and treatable with a kidney transplant, but of the 121,000 people waiting for live-saving organ transplants in the U.S., over 100,000 of those people are waiting for kidneys… with less than 17,000 people receiving the transplant every year, per the National Kidney Foundation.
Recognizing the severity of this condition, “The Water Guy” is celebrating National Kidney Month during the month of March to bring attention to the magnitude of this issue. Some lifestyle changes will allow you to manage your CKD or prevent the condition from developing if you are already suffering. Step one in kidney health management is maintaining a healthy diet. The focus of these dietary choices is to lower cholesterol in blood as well as blood pressure. In order to achieve this:
- Consume 5 servings per day of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Limit your salt consumption to less than 6 grams (1 teaspoon), daily.
- Avoid foods that are high in saturated fat such as fatty cuts of meat like sausage, as well as, foods that contain high concentrations of butter, cream, and hard cheese.
- Consume foods possessing unsaturated fats such as oily fish, avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.
- Replace soft drinks with water. (Consuming two or more soft drinks per day correlates to unhealthily elevated levels of protein within urine, a key prerequisite to CKD and ESRD. Maintaining good hydration limits stress on your kidneys and decreases your risk of kidney stones, another sign of CKD.)
In addition to these outstanding benefits, replacing soft drinks with water leads to mitigated caloric consumption which is a crucial aspect of weight loss. After all, just replacing one standard soda with a glass of water, daily, will cause the average American to lose 12 – 16 pounds over the course of a year. Recall that obesity is a major risk factor in determining the likelihood of developing CKD. Besides diet, exercise is a key step towards the all-important weight loss. Weekly, commit to 150 minutes, or more, of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. After this exercise, feel free to reward yourself with a glass of wine; drinking just one glass per day has correlated to a decreased chance of CKD. However, do not consume excessive amounts of alcohol, this being defined as greater than 3 – 4 drinks for men and 2 – 3 drinks for women, per day, as, after this point, blood pressure and cholesterol levels both rise.
Chronic Kidney Disease is a humbling reminder of the consequences of poor health decisions. The kidneys are our body’s filter; we can choose to give them light duty or push them until they break. For those of you looking to commit to a healthy lifestyle, make water your drink of choice. Throughout March, join “The Water Guy” in recognizing the importance of kidney health by celebrating National Kidney Month.
*“The Water Guy”™ does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The content presented is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please seek advice from your physician regarding any medical concerns you may have.