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Statistics show that 10% of all people in the world have some form of kidney disease. A startling fact is that ten thousand South African men and women will die of kidney failure every year.
The kidney’s major function is to excrete waste products from the body. This vital organ is responsible for cleansing the body of acidic wastes coming from physiological processes. And, when these toxic substances are not properly excreted, they build up inside the system and cause other vital organs to be dysfunctional.
So, really important then, right? Hey, they’re so important that most people are born with two of them, just in case something happens to one!
Anyone can get kidney disease, but some things can make it more likely to happen to you. How do you know if you are at risk? The two most common conditions that cause kidney damage – by far – are high blood pressure (60 – 65%) and uncontrolled diabetes (20 -25%). Both of these health problems can cause permanent damage to your kidneys. Being obese or overweight, and some infections such as HIV, could also be contributing factors.
Drugs and toxins may also play a role, with the most common offender being the widely used “anti-inflammatory” that is easily obtained from clinics and pharmacies. Most of us are not aware of the fact that some traditional meds, Chinese herbs, and illicit substances such as “tik” (crystal meth) can damage our kidneys.
Kidney disease could be inherited from our parents and that’s why knowing the health history of your family is so important. Age also plays a significant role as 10% of kidney function is lost in each decade after the age of 40.
Although some risk factors for kidney disease are impossible to control, there are a few golden rules for keeping your kidneys healthy:
- Say yes to healthy food. Include more leafy green vegetables to your diet and reduce your salt intake to no more than a teaspoon per day.
- Keep fit and active. Exercise will control body weight and therefore reduce blood pressure.
- Quit smoking.
- Do not take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication on a regular basis.
- Drink more water. About 1.5 litres of water per day will help the kidneys to clear sodium, urea and other toxins from the body which will significantly reduce the risk of developing Chronic Kidney Disease.
- Use alcohol moderately. Less than 2 drinks per day is the ideal.
What is interesting, is that a person suffering from Chronic Kidney Disease can lose up to 90% of their kidney function before experiencing any symptoms. So, if you’re at risk, it is important to get tested. A standard blood and urine test can be done as part of a routine exam. However, it may be wise to get tested annually if you have diabetes or high blood pressure.
If you have one or more of the risk factors for kidney disease, discuss it with your doctor. It could save your life.
DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.