- The World Kidney Day draws our attention to the need of taking care of our kidneys
- This year, the day focuses on the adverse effects of obesity on the kidneys
- Healthy lifestyles can keep our kidneys healthy
The World Kidney Day 2017 focuses on the need to maintain kidney health by reducing obesity with the theme Kidney Disease and Obesity - Healthy Lifestyle for Healthy Kidneys.
The World Kidney Day is observed on the second Thursday of March every year to increase awareness about the importance of kidney diseases in maintaining our health and the necessity to reduce the frequency of kidney disease in the population. It is an initiative of the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations (IFKF).
The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs that work tirelessly to remove nitrogenous wastes like urea, uric acid and creatinine from our body. In addition, they maintain the electrolyte levels in the blood within the normal range and maintain the acid-balance system of the body. The also secrete hormones to maintain the hemoglobin and maintain blood pressure. Unlike the heart that often reminds us that is it is working through its heart-beats, the functioning of the kidneys is obvious only when we have to pass urine.
Obesity is a global epidemic ( BMI over 30) that affects more than 600 million people worldwide. It affects multiple body systems and predisposes to the following health problems:
- High cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, which in turn cause heart and kidney disease
- Diabetes, which in turn affects multiple organs and predisposes to heart, eye and kidney disease, as well as stroke
- Joint disease like osteoarthritis
- Breathing problems like obstructive sleep apnea
- Makes one prone to a few cancers
People who are overweight or obese are at a two-to-seven times increased risk of suffering from end-stage kidney disease. Besides affecting the kidney directly, obesity can affect the kidneys indirectly through its ability to cause high blood pressure and diabetes. Around a fourth of patients with high blood pressure and around a third of patients with diabetes suffer from kidney disease.
- High blood pressure damages blood vessels, including those supplying to the kidneys. This reduces kidney function, and results in fluid accumulation. The fluid accumulation can further increase blood pressure, thereby resulting in a vicious cycle
- High blood glucose levels in uncontrolled diabetes also affect the kidney blood vessels. In addition, diabetes also causes high blood pressure, which can in turn cause kidney disease
Obese patients are also predisposed to developing kidney stones and kidney cancer.
Chronic kidney disease has several implications for the patient as well as their family. The treatment can be prolonged and painful. Treatment with dialysis may be too expensive for some with end-stage renal disease to afford, while a kidney donor may not be always available for those who need it. Chronic kidney disease also increases the risk of dying early from heart disease.
Thus, it is important to prevent obesity to avoid kidney disease. Preventive measures should preferably be adopted early in life, as it may not always be easy to reduce weight once you have gained it. Some steps that can help to prevent obesity are:
- Eat a well-balanced diet. Reduce your total fat and calorie intake and include fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. Your diet may need specific modifications if you are already suffering from hypertension or diabetes. Patients with hypertension need a low salt diet, while patients with diabetes have to keep their sugar intake under control. Protein intake needs to be monitored in those who already suffer from advanced kidney disease. A dietitian could help to guide you with your diet
- Make exercise an integral part of your routine. Even if your profession forces you into a sedentary lifestyle, keep time aside for sports and other activities.
- Control your alcohol intake and quit smoking
If you already suffer from obesity, you should take steps to prevent kidney disease:
- Ensure that your blood pressure is under control
- Ensure that your diabetes is under control
- Undergo regular screening for kidney disease to detect it early and take measures to prevent progression. Kidney testing is performed through simple blood and urine tests.
- Work towards reducing weight through a diet and exercise regimen.
- World Kidney Day is a global awareness campaign aimed at raising awareness of the importance of our kidneys - (http://www.worldkidneyday.org)
- High Blood Pressure & Kidney Disease - (https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/effects/)
- The Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity - (https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/chronic-kidney-disease-ckd/high-blood-pressure)
- Diabetic Kidney Disease - (https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/diabetic-kidney-disease)