Kidney alert

Published by Manila Bulletin, September 30, 2014

Our kidneys work as the body’s filtration system. It regulates fluid balance and filters the blood. But did you know that the kidneys also play a great role in producing Vitamin D for bone health, the hormone renin for regulating blood pressure, erythropoietin hormone for red blood cell production, regulating sodium and potassium electrolytes for heart health, and keeping the balance between acidity and alkalinity in the body?

When I started my practice as a dietitian consultant 12 years ago, my very first patient was a woman who suffered from End Stage Kidney Disease. I still remember the devastating words she said to me: “I don’t want to see you and my doctor again. I’d rather die than have a transplant and go on a very strict renal diet.” End Stage Kidney Disease may seem like the end of the world but there are ways to prevent it.

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Eat adequate protein food sources like lean meat, fish, poultry, egg, dairy products, and legumes. Protein primarily helps build and repair body cells however, when we eat protein excessively, our kidneys will get damaged. Be wary of fad diets that promote intake of high protein and low carbohydrates. You’re bound to end up with malfunctioning kidneys in no time.

Control your blood pressure by reducing sodium intake which is abundant in salt and processed foods. Canned foods, frozen foods, chips and the like usually have high sodium content. Read the nutrition label and choose the ones with less sodium. While eating, avoid adding more table salt and condiments like soy sauce, fish sauce or patis, and bagoong. Use herbs and spices and minimal salt to add flavor while cooking.

Control your blood sugar level especially when you are diagnosed with diabetes, pre-diabetes, insulin resistance, or metabolic syndrome. Nephropathy or kidney disease is a complication that could arise from uncontrolled blood sugar level. It is important to consume complex carbohydrates like whole grains, starchy vegetables, fruits, and vegetables to get the benefits of fiber while providing glucose or sugar for energy.

Drink water regularly throughout the day most especially when exercising and during hot weather conditions. Inadequate fluid intake can cause kidney stone formation and urinary tract infection. There is no such thing as “over drinking” of water for healthy individuals but people with kidney diseases may be prescribed fluid restriction by their physician.

Eat non-fat or low fat dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese to get enough calcium. Do not take calcium supplements without your doctor or dietitian’s proper assessment and advice. Unlike calcium from natural food sources, calcium supplements taken in excess could lead to kidney stone formation.

Do not take pain relievers without doctor’s advice. Use of pain medications should be done only when needed and as directed.

Avoid alcohol consumption if possible or limit intake to two servings for males and one serving for females. One serving of alcoholic beverage is equivalent to one glass of wine (5oz.) or one can/bottle of beer (12 oz.)

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