What came first, the kidney or the bean?
That’s a well-known joke within the health care system, but when it comes to kidney health, that’s no joke.
“They’re as important as lungs are to your body, we can’t survive without them,” Shelley Irvine, Diabetic Nurse Educator told attendees of the brown bag lunch recently that was focusing on kidney health.
Kidneys have three functions in the body: they regulate water and fluid in one’s body, they produce hormones, and they remove wastes from the body and regulate minerals.
High blood pressure, the passage of cloudy, bloody or tea-coloured urine, frequent or infrequent passing of urine, and puffiness of the eyes, hands and feet are all signs that may indicate a kidney disease, and so are fatigue, loss of appetite, and loss of weight.
Those with diabetes should pay particular attention to their kidneys as high blood sugar over a long period of time affects the filtering ability of the kidneys.
“One thing about kidney disease is it can be stopped so it doesn’t progress any further,” Irvine said.
That’s if a doctor is alerted, she noted, who encouraged anyone with concerns to speak with their health care professional.
Prevention methods include a well balanced diet, regular physical activity, weight control and stopping smoking, Irvine said, all recommendations to maintain a healthy lifestyle, not just to avoid kidney disease.
Wendy Orienti, a licensed nutritionist, said that when it comes to making changes to one’s diet, lowering your sodium intake is the strongest thing one can do.
“The usual diet is way too high, with about 70 per cent coming from prepared foods,” Orienti said, who recommended people check out sodium101.ca for more on that.
Kidneys are vital to our bodies, but they are also very strong. One kidney is capable of doing the work of two should the other fail. But there are things we can do to help them along, Orienti and Irvine both stressed.
While it takes time, kidney failure can have a huge impact on your overall health, even leading to the need to have your blood filtered out-of-body, a procedure known as dialysis that is not currently available in Smithers.