Kidney disease is a serious condition that affects one in 10 Canadians, and has no cure. March is Kidney Health Month and the focus this year is on prevention and the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle to help promote good kidney health.
"Kidneys are as important to your health as your heart or your lungs yet many people are not aware of the essential role these vital organs play in our body, says Dr. Mike Bevilacqua, Nephrologist. "Kidneys essentially do three main jobs: removing waste, regulating water, and producing key hormones."
Kidney disease occurs when kidney damage is present or there is decreased kidney function for a period of three months or more. When this occurs, kidneys can longer do their important work.
"Diabetes and high blood pressure are the leading causes of kidney disease, however, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help control or manage blood pressure and blood sugar levels which in turn can help protect your kidneys," continues Bevilacqua.
The Vancouver-area kidney specialist suggests that since most people living with kidney disease often show no symptoms in the early stages, it is important for those at risk, including those with diabetes and high blood pressure, to talk to their doctor about being screened for kidney disease.
The BC & Yukon Branch of The Kidney Foundation of Canada offer the following five simple tips to keep the kidneys healthy and happy.
1. Eat a healthy diet
The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan is based on eating foods rich in vegetables, fruit, nuts and 1% milk products. It is also low in sodium and saturated fat. This eating plan can also lower your blood pressure.
2. Reduce your salt intake
This may also help prevent diabetes and other conditions associated with Chronic Kidney Disease. The recommended sodium intake for adults is not more than 2,300 mg per day (around a teaspoon). To help reduce your salt intake try to limit the amount of processed food or do not add salt to food.
3. Don't smoke
Smoking slows the flow of blood to the kidneys. When less blood reaches the kidneys, it impairs their ability to function properly.
4. Keep fit and active
Everyone should aim for 150 minutes (30 minutes 5 times a week). This will help maintain a healthy weight which can help you control both blood sugar and blood pressure.
5. Keep hydrated
Kidneys are super at removing waste, regulating water and producing key hormones. Keep them hydrated to help them function properly.
The Kidney Foundation of Canada, BC & Yukon Branch exists to help prevent kidney disease or delay the onset. They also provide support services for patients who have chronic kidney disease, are on dialysis and promote organ donation to increase kidney transplant rates.
"We are here to help each and every kidney patient until there is a cure," concludes Deborah Tucker, Director of Communications and Marketing at The Kidney Foundation of Canada, BC & Yukon Branch.
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