March is National Kidney Month. This is the best time to urge everyone to give their kidneys a second thought and well-deserved checkup, and to learn their risk factors for kidney disease.
As such, it’s the perfect time to participate in one of the free screenings that show up all over the country. The national kidney foundation has a listing of locations and information on their website. You can also pop on over to www.kidney.org and participate in one of their “are you at risk” quizzes to help find out if you NEED, or just should get to a clinic to be tested.
The kidneys are the body’s chemical factories, filtering waste and performing vital functions that control things like red blood cell production and blood pressure. But, over time, the kidneys can become damaged with little or no physical symptoms to warn you that your kidneys are in trouble.
Obesity and kidney disease
Obesity has many harmful consequences, and is associated with kidney disease. While obesity leads to chronic kidney disease (CKD) indirectly through type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, it can also cause direct kidney damage by increasing the workload of the kidneys.
Kidney disease facts:
- The ninth leading cause of death in the United States
- 26 million American adults (age 20+) have CKD
- Over 95,000 Americans are waiting for kidney transplants
- African American, Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and Arab Americans are at higher risk for developing CKD
- Kidney disease costs American taxpayers nearly $100 billion every year
- One in three kids born in 2000 will develop diabetes, which is a leading cause of kidney failure.
- If left untreated, CKD can lead to kidney failure, requiring dialysis or transplantation for survival.
Follow these simple steps to minimize risk of obesity and associated CKD:
- Maintain a healthy diet: focus on eating smaller portions and drinking water rather than sugary drinks. Choose low-sodium options; eat fresh, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables.
- Engage in regular exercise. Physical activity is essential for healthy weight management. Your goal should be a min. of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week. This can include walking, swimming, biking or dancing.
- Get an annual physical examination. Talk with your doctor about your risk factors for kidney disease. You can also discuss weight loss program and whether it is right for you.
- Prevent/manage diabetes and high blood pressure. Your goal should be to keep the blood pressure within the target your doctor establishes, and stay in your target blood sugar range as much as possible
Aging changes and their effects on the kidneys and bladder
As you age, your kidneys and bladder change. This can affect their function.
Changes in the kidneys that occur with age:
- Amount of kidney tissue decreases
- Number of filtering units (nephrons) decreases. These units filter waste material from the blood.
- Blood vessels supplying the kidneys can become hardened. This causes the kidneys to filter blood more slowly.
Changes in the bladder:
- Bladder wall changes. The elastic tissue becomes tough and the bladder becomes less stretchy. The bladder cannot hold as much urine as before.
- The bladder muscles weaken.
- The urethra can become blocked. In women, this can be due to weakened muscles that cause the bladder or vagina to fall out of position (prolapse). In men, the urethra can become blocked by an enlarged prostate gland.
Superfood for elderly kidney health
The best way to protect our elderly from kidney issued is to load up their diet with these kidney-boosting superfoods:
- Cranberries: can prevent harmful bacteria from affixing to the walls of a person’s bladder
- Red Bell peppers: contains antioxidant lycopene that is believed to help prevent various kinds of cancer
- Cabbage: low in potassium but contains phytochemicals that are believed to help fight the effects of cancer
- Garlic: this potent seasoning can lower levels of dangerous inflammation in the body, and can lower cholesterol levels.
- Apples: believed to help prevent painful urinary tract infections and the formation of kidney stones. Apples are also high in fiber.
- Egg whites: good source of high quality protein, which contain essential amino acid that aids in good kidney function
- Salmon: a great source of high quality protein, and loaded with omega-3 fatty acids that fight inflammation.
- Onions: low in potassium and are loaded with antioxidants that protect the kidney from diseases. They also possess anti-inflammatory properties.
At Cyril Senior Care, our trained caregivers can help establish a daily routine and encourage your loved one to make healthy choices. Call us at (888) 42-CYRIL, or (888) 422-9745, to find out about how our in-home care service program can help your elderly loved one today!
www.kidney.org; National Kidney Foundation