In honor of World Kidney day 9th March 2017

What’s the first thing you did this morning after you woke up? Did you thank your kidneys or just take them for granted? Have you ever stopped to wonder what it might be like to never go for a wee…?
“Great” you may say, “I wouldn’t have to stop what I was doing”. But it would also mean that you would be very unwell unless you received medical treatment. Our kidneys do the wonderful job of making our wee (our body’s waste) and when they don’t work properly life changes in a very big way. Every year on “World Kidney Day” people all around the world people are raising awareness of the wonders of our kidneys!!

Working with people whose kidneys don’t work continues to humble me even now, 15 years on. The dietitian isn’t always the most popular person on the haemodialysis team but believe me we love to help those needing dialysis treatment to keep as well as they possibly can by finding the right foods and drinks to suit them and their current blood results.

Once your kidneys fail, haemodialysis is one of the options available to keep you alive. The dietitian is a key member of the multidisciplinary team and as a haemodialysis patient you will struggle to avoid them! Your blood will be checked every month for toxins such as potassium, phosphate, calcium and albumin to ensure your treatment is as effective as possible to keep you well. If any of the toxins are above or below an ideal range you will be given the opportunity to discuss your food and fluid intake with the dietitian. Together you can plan dietary and fluid changes to keep you well. Weight and exercise level are also discussed on a monthly basis. To go on to the kidney transplant register your BMI must be below 35.

Kidney Disease and Obesity

This year the theme for World Kidney Day is “Kidney Disease and Obesity”. Most of us are aware of obesity but do you know what your correct weight for your height is? Body mass index (BMI) is the calculation dietitians use to calculate ideal weights for heights. How do you measure up?

BMI = weight (kg) ÷ height (m)2

  • Underweight BMI = < 20
  • Ideal BMI = 20 – 25
  • Overweight BMI = 26 – 30
  • Obese BMI = 30+

How to look after your kidneys?

If you are overweight or obese you have a greater chance of developing diabetes or high blood pressure which are the leading causes of kidney disease and kidney failure (www.kidney.org). What can I do if I’m overweight? The 2 things to consider are:

  1. your diet
  2. exercise

Ask yourself do I have the balance right between the amounts I eat and the amount I move about to maintain a healthy weight ? If you need help with your diet please seek it from a dietitian or registered nutritionist.

 

DL Post: Healthy Eating TipsBDA Food Fact Sheet: Healthy Eating

Do I need to do anything with fluid to look after my kidneys?

Its important to keep your self hydrated and you can determine this by checking the colour of your wee. Clear indicates hydration. The current advice on ideal quantity of fluid to be drank per day is between 1.5 and 2L per day which is equivalent to 6 – 8 large glasses or cups each day with water being the preferred choice of fluid.

 

DL Post: FluidBDA Food Fact Sheet: Fluid

and Salt?

Another factor to consider alongside hydration is salt consumption. As a population we consume too much salt. The current advice on salt is no more than a teaspoon per day (6g). This is the same if you are on haemodialysis treatment.

DL Post: The Great Salt DebateBDA Food Fact Sheet: Salt 

There are 5 main charities involved in World Kidney day – BKPA (British kidney patient association), Kids Kidney Research, Kidney Research UK, NKF (National Kidney Federation and PKD (polycystic kidney disease charity) and together they are working to achieve 16 ambitions for the future of kidney care. Check out their great work via www.worldkidneyday.co.uk

So what am I doing today to celebrate my kidneys?

I am going to drink plenty of water, keep active, monitor my salt intake and try out one of the recipes from a recipe book recommended for haemodialysis patients.

Appreciate your kidneys!