By Michele Ketterick, RD, LD, Somatus Renal Dietitian
This year’s World Kidney Day theme is Kidney Health for All – Bridge the knowledge gap to better kidney care. Approximately 1 in 10 people worldwide have chronic kidney disease (CKD). It is estimated that 37 million Americans have chronic kidney disease.
What do our Kidneys do?
It’s a lot more than you think! Our body is a complex system that requires a constant state of balance. Our kidneys help achieve that balance. Kidneys have millions of filters (nephrons) and each drop of blood in our body flows through these filters.
Our amazing kidneys:
- Remove excess water and waste from our blood which turns into urine that is sent to the bladder and removed from our body.
- Keep our bones healthy! Kidneys activate vitamin D so our gut can take in calcium from food.
- Help make red blood cells. A certain hormone in our kidneys tells our bone marrow that we need more red blood cells.
- Help control blood pressure. Kidneys control the amount of salt in our body and make substances that regulate blood pressure.
When Kidneys Need Help
Chronic kidney disease is when our kidneys cannot filter blood the way they should because of damage. It is a slow process and people with CKD usually do not know it or feel it. The leading causes of CKD are type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Other causes include type 1 diabetes, cystic disease, lupus, and kidney stones. Chronic kidney disease can be deadly. As the kidneys become more damaged, it can lead to end stage kidney disease and a need for dialysis.
How do you know if you have Chronic Kidney Disease or at risk for developing it?
Know your numbers!
Regular visits to your doctor for screening is important. Blood tests can help determine your GFR (glomular filtration rate) which shows how well your kidneys are filtering blood. Your A1C levels are also determined by a blood test and show blood sugar control over 2-3 months. A1C helps diagnose if you have diabetes and how well your diabetes is controlled. Blood pressure checks are important too! High blood pressure needs to be treated and controlled. A urine sample can be obtained to further detect damage to your kidneys.
The goal: slowing or stopping chronic kidney disease progression.
There are 5 stages of kidney disease and then end stage kidney disease. As the stage increases, kidney disease goes from mild to moderate to severe. Because most people do not realize they have kidney disease, many are not officially diagnosed with it until they have moderate to severe kidney damage.
Regardless of what stage of kidney disease people have, there is hope! There are many things that can be done to slow or stop the progression of kidney disease, including medications, maintaining a kidney-friendly diet, controlling other comorbidities, and living a healthy lifestyle.
Fill out the form on this page to download a free cookbook of simple kidney-friendly recipes that can make following a healthy diet easy.
Somatus is revolutionizing kidney care! We are taking a proactive, preventive approach to helping people slow and/or stop chronic kidney disease progression. Working alongside our members’ doctors and specialists, a Somatus care team of nurses, social workers, dietitians, and more support, educate, and motivate people to take control of their health.
We also work with people who have end stage kidney disease to help find the best kidney replacement therapy when their kidneys no longer work properly on their own. People can opt for dialysis (a process of removing excess water and toxins from the body) at home or even overnight for better quality of life. A kidney transplant is the best-case scenario when someone’s kidneys fail.
Somatus’ goal is to create “More Lives, Better Lived.”
Ask your doctor about your kidney health. Get the simple blood, urine, and blood pressure tests to know your numbers and take action to be proactive. Keeping your kidneys healthy is within your control! Somatus is here to help.