The first week of September is Kidney Awareness Week. The week aims to raise awareness of the importance of our kidneys and overall health.
How well do you know the functions of your kidneys? Sure, it may be easy to identify where and what they are, but do you really know the role it plays to support your body? Here’s what you need to know…
Our kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, the size of a fist located at the back of the abdomen. The organs form part of the urinary tract, which removes waste. Nephrologist Dr Shoyab Wadee from the Wits University Donald Gordon Medical Centre says kidney stones are caused by many factors, including genetic, dietary and medication-related causes. “Not drinking enough water increases the risk and frequency of kidney stones significantly,” he says.
READ MORE: What Are Kidney Stones, Exactly?
One or two? Does it matter?
Having two kidneys allows a person to have reserve capacity for periods of illness to deal with intakes of too much salt or protein. A person can live a completely normal life with one well functioning kidney, which is why a kidney from a living donor for a kidney transplant can be used for someone suffering from kidney failure.
Foods to eat to preserve your kidneys
- Drink plenty of water. Strive to drink enough fluids to pass two litres of urine a day. Drinking extra water dilutes the substances in urine that lead to stones.
- Go easy on the animal protein. Too much animal protein, such as red meat, poultry, eggs and seafood, boosts the level of uric acid that could lead to kidney stones.
- Less sodium. Not only is less sodium good for your blood pressure and heart, but a high-sodium diet can trigger kidney stones.
- Avoid high amounts of… Chocolate, spinach, rhubarb, tea and most nuts as these are rich in oxalate (a natural substance in food) and phosphate, both of which can contribute to kidney stones.
It’s very easy for us to pop a pill when we’re in pain, but before you do so next time, bare this in mind. Dr Wadee says aspirin and other anti-inflammatory medications are toxic to the kidney.