IF you assume piling on the pounds, smoking, and suffering from high blood pressure or diabetes will not put your kidney under pressure, think again.
All those health hazards can affect a vital organ, the kidneys. Yet many people are not only unaware of their function and where they are, but also ignorant of how they can help to keep them in tip-top condition.
Statistics show that around one in 10 adults worldwide has some form of kidney damage, while every year millions die prematurely of heart attacks and strokes linked to chronic kidney disease and symptoms often don't become apparent until its later stages, leaving many people unaware of the damage the disease is doing.
Explaining the nature and function of the kidneys, Dr. Toyin Gboyega told The Nation on Sunday, “The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located on either sides of the body, just underneath the ribcage. The main job of your kidneys is to maintain a constant environment inside your body by filtering out waste products from the blood before converting it into urine, to help control the levels of salt and potassium in the body.”
Dr. Gboyega said further, “At each given moment, healthy kidneys ensure that blood levels of water, salts, and other key chemicals are in perfect balance. When they begin to fail, this very precise system starts to fall apart and this is why it is important to look after your kidneys because they work with your heart to control your blood pressure. With each heartbeat, blood is pushed through your kidneys for filtering.”
According to the medical practitioner, “Though your two kidneys are each just about the size of your closed fist, they process about 200 quarts of blood per day to make about two litres of urine. To do their work, your kidneys need a constant supply of blood at a normal pressure. Too little blood or too little pressure can cause acute, sudden kidney failure. Too much blood or too much pressure can lead to scarring that can cause chronic, permanent kidney disease.”
In view of all the major diseases which the kidney suffers from, feasting on a healthy diet has been found by experts to help prevent and cure these diseases.
Eating healthy foods and following a renal diet made up of kidney-friendly foods are important for people with kidney disease because they experience more inflammation and have a higher risk for cardiovascular disease.
Here are kidney-friendly foods with antioxidants that you may want to include in your healthy diet.
Onion, a member of the Allium family and a basic flavouring in many cooked dishes, contains sulfur compounds which give it its pungent smell. But in addition to making you cry, onions are also rich in flavonoids, especially quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that works to reduce heart disease and protects against many cancers. Onions are low in potassium and a good source of chromium, a mineral that helps with carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism.
For people on a kidney diet looking to add more flavours to foods, try using a variety of onions including white, brown, red and others. Eat onions raw on burgers, sandwiches and in salads, cook them and use as a caramelized topping or fry them into onion rings. Include onions in recipes such as Italian beef with peppers and onions.
A cruciferous vegetable, cabbage is packed full of chemical compounds in fruits or vegetables that break up free radicals before they can do damage. Many of these chemicals are also known to protect against, and fight, cancer as well as foster cardiovascular health.
High in vitamin K, vitamin C and fibre, cabbage is also a good source of vitamin B6 and folic acid. Low in potassium and low in cost, it's an affordable addition to the kidney diet.
Raw cabbage makes a great addition to the dialysis diet as coleslaw or topping for fish tacos. You can steam, microwave or boil it, add butter or cream cheese plus pepper or caraway seeds and serve it as a side dish. Cabbage rolls made with turkey are a great appetizer, and if you're feeling fancy, you can stuff a cabbage with ground meat and bake it for a flavourful meal bursting with nutrients.
Garlic helps prevent plaque from forming on your teeth, lowers cholesterol and reduces inflammation.
Buy it fresh, bottled, minced or powdered, and add it to meat, vegetable or pasta dishes. You can also roast a head of garlic and spread on bread. Garlic provides a delicious flavour and garlic powder is a great substitute for garlic salt in the dialysis diet.
Apples have been known to reduce cholesterol, prevent constipation, protect against heart disease and reduce the risk of cancer. High in fibre and anti-inflammatory compounds, an apple a day may really keep the doctor away. Good news for people with kidney disease who already have their share of doctor visits.
This renal diet winner can be paired with the previous good-for-you food, onions, to make a unique apple onion omelette. With versatile apples you can eat them raw, make baked apples, stew apples, make them into apple sauce, or use in a dessert such as apple pie or apple cake. You can also drink them as apple juice or apple cider.
Cherries have been shown to reduce inflammation when eaten daily. They are also packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals that protect the heart.
Eat fresh cherries as snack, make a cherry pie, cherry coffee cake, cherry crisp or cherry cheesecake. Cherry sauce can be tasty served with lamb or pork and you can drink a glass of cherry juice.
Egg whites are pure protein and provide the highest quality of protein with all the essential amino acids. For the kidney diet, egg whites provide protein with less phosphorus than other protein sources such as egg yolk or meats.
Buy powdered, fresh or pasteurized egg whites. Make an omelette or egg white sandwich, add pasteurized egg whites to smoothies or shakes, make deviled egg snacks or add whites of hard boiled eggs to tuna salad or garden salad to add extra protein.
Fish provides high-quality protein and contains anti-inflammatory fats called omega-3s. The healthy fats in fish help fight diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Omega-3s also help lower low-density lipoprotein or cholesterol, which is bad cholesterol, and raise high-density lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol, which is good cholesterol.
Dieticians recommend eating fish two or three times a week. Fish highest in omega-3s include albacore tuna, herring, mackerel, rainbow trout and salmon.
Olive oil is a great source of oleic acid, an anti-inflammatory fatty acid. The monounsaturated fat in olive oil protects against oxidation. Olive oil is rich in ployphenols and antioxidant compounds that prevent inflammation and oxidation.
Studies show that populations that use large amounts of olive oil instead of other oils have lower rates of heart disease and cancer.
Buy virgin or extra virgin olive oil because they are higher in antioxidants. Use olive oil to make salad dressing, in cooking, for dipping bread or for marinating vegetables.