Q: Mr. Pedometer, one of my friends is on a waiting list for a kidney transplant. Is this very common? And are there any ways to avoid such a health crisis?
A: Sad to say, kidney disease is on the rise, as reported in the Spry Living insert in the Sunday newspaper. The article, by Lisa Mulcahy, reminded us that March is National Kidney Month. A staggering 15 percent of the U.S. population has chronic kidney disease! This is due largely to an increase in people with high blood pressure and/or diabetes, both of which are major risk factors.
Your friend may be on a lengthy waiting list, because the need for donor’s kidneys is increasing by 8 percent per year, according to researchers at University of California, San Francisco. (My sister, who has Type 1 Diabetes, had to wait for more than three years for a kidney transplant.)
Why are kidneys so important? “These two organs, located in the center of your body, filter waste and impurities from your blood by producing urine; help control your blood pressure; produce hormones and enzymes that ensure your bone health; and produce hormones that stimulate red blood cells,” explained Joseph Vassalotti, MD, chief medical officer of the National Kidney Foundation.
The article lists ways you can help keep your kidneys healthy:
- EXERCISE COMBATS CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE – “Just 30 minutes of movement three days a week improves your blood vessel health, which in turn boosts your kidney function.”
- YOUR KIDNEYS NEED CLEAN AIR – “A new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the Veterans’ Affairs Clinical Epidemiology Center finds that breathing air containing dust, dirt, smoke, and soot can disrupt kidney function.” The tiny particles can penetrate into the bloodstream, straining kidneys that must filter 45 gallons of blood per day. The article suggests keeping your car windows up while in traffic and using an air purifier at home.
- GET ENOUGH SLEEP – “High blood pressure, the second leading cause of kidney failure, can be exacerbated by insomnia or poor sleep.” Getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night can decrease this risk factor.
- LIMIT YOUR ALCOHOL INTAKE – “Too much alcohol can keep your kidneys from filtering your blood properly.” How much is too much? More than one drink per day for women, two drinks per day for men.
- WATCH WHAT YOU EAT – “Slash sodium and red meat intake and fill up on fruits and vegetables.” That is a condensed version of the DASH Diet: Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, “an eating plan recommended by the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute for optimum health.” (Visit Parade.com/DASH for more about these diet guidelines.)
- LIMIT USE OF HEARTBURN MEDICATION – “Use the lowest effective dose for the shortest period of time” to avoid gradual kidney damage.
Best wishes to your friend. As always, I encourage you to…
AND SLEEP WELL,
FOR A HEALTHY, LONGER LIFE!