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Kidney Diseases and How Eating Healthy Can Save You

Kidney diseases are complicated. These disorders are quite serious because they affect other organs and systems, and therefore can affect quality of life. So, let's have a brief look at what kidney diseases can look like and how to detect them.

Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is one of the most widespread disorders. In CKD, some damage occurs to your kidneys so they do not filter blood, at least in the way they are expected to. As a result, there is a risk of developing hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases. CKD can be genetic and your children can have the same disorder at the same age as you. People with chronic kidney disease are at risk of having congestive heart failure (CHF) because of the inadequate balance of liquids and high concentration of sodium (salt) in the bloodstream.

End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)

Kidney failure starts as a gradual decline in function also known as chronic kidney disease (CKD). The main symptoms of kidney failure are fatigue, itching, pain in the muscles, sleep difficulties, back pain, nausea, fever, shakiness and sometimes easy bleeding or bruising. When kidneys completely fail (ESRD or End Stage Renal Disease) dialysis is usually required to stay alive. Dialysis includes removal of salt, extra water, and any other waste products from the body, therefore normalizing electrolytes in your body, and helping to balance blood pressure. Kidney transplantation is a more permanent option, yet the average wait time for a kidney transplant if no donor is immediately available can range from 3-10 years.

Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are small hard elements of minerals and calcium that are formed inside of the kidneys. A high concentration of calcium in the urine and other elements makes stones stick together and form larger pieces which can be painful to pass through the ureters. They are quite dangerous to the entire urinary tract, as they prevent urine from passing freely and injure the soft tissues inside. That is why releasing kidney stones is so painful. Common signs of kidney stones are severe back pain, pain during urination, nausea, blood in the urine or inability to urinate. Kidney stones can cause unexpected consequences, so it is better to call or visit a doctor as soon as possible.

Diet Is Above All

If you want to improve your quality of life, it is highly recommended that you adhere to a disease specific diet which will help you prolong the life of your kidneys and avoid progression to more advanced kidney disease. A healthy kidney diet includes three major aspects that are of paramount importance:

Sodium. Sodium is not just salt; it is one of the body's main electrolytes, so the excessive presence of this makes your kidneys and consequently cardio-vascular system work much harder. Tracking sodium levels is very important in this case, so try to avoid salty food.

Potassium. This is another very important electrolyte; diseased kidneys are unable to remove potassium from the body effectively leading to high blood levels that can be life threatening. Examples of foods high in potassium: avocados, beans, fish, citrus juices, bananas, potatoes, and spinach.

Phosphorus. This electrolyte is removed mainly by your kidneys. If not removed effectively, elevated levels will lead to serious problems such as cardiovascular disease. Example of foods high in phosphorus: beef, hard cheeses, junk food, soda, milk and dairy products, certain beans, and canned fish.

Good nutrition plays a vital role in the maintenance of adequate levels of sodium, potassium, and phosphorus to assist the optimal functioning of your kidneys especially when you have CKD depending on the stage of the disease. However, you have to specify your diet with your doctor in this regard, as different people may have different dietary restrictions. Remember to visit your doctor to further discuss specific dietary recommendations to ensure your kidneys (and you) remain happy and healthy.
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