Kidney health for all

3.5 percent of deaths in the PH is related to kidney disease

One out of 10 adults has Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) worldwide. To make matters worse, mortality rate due to kidney disease is increasing annually. It is projected to be the fifth leading cause of death by 2040.

In an effort to reduce the frequency and impact of kidney disease and related health problems worldwide, World Kidney Day is celebrated to raise awareness on the importance of these two bean-shaped organs to overall health. The global campaign is held on March 10 annually. For this year, the World Kidney Day Joint Steering Committee has declared 2022 to be the year of “Kidney Health for All.” This year’s campaign calls for everyone to bridge the knowledge gaps to better kidney care by increasing education and awareness about kidney health.

Chronic Kidney Disease is a global problem but let’s get closer to home. As of March 3, 2022, the Philippines has a population of more than 112 million. In 2018, the World Health Organization reported that 3.5 percent of total deaths in the country are due to CKD. The 10th leading cause of mortality in the Philippines in 2020, kidney failure is one of the leading causes of hospitalization. For the past decade, prevalence of dialysis has increased to approximately 400 percent.

The burden of Chronic Kidney Disease has further intensified in the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic. CKD and patients on hemodialysis had to take the backseat to give way to the Covid-19 surge. At the beginning of what would become one of the world’s longest lockdowns, the country’s largest tertiary and training hospital, Philippine General Hospital (PGH), was converted to a Covid-19 referral center on March 30, 2020. This resulted to the closure of the outpatient department that caters to a number of Chronic Kidney Disease patients. Other government outpatient nephrology clinics and even private ones ceased operations due to nationwide restrictions imposed. Facilities were overwhelmed. Health professionals were either infected or exposed to the virus. The National Kidney and Transplant Institute, which houses the largest government hemodialysis facility, sought assistance as they could no longer accommodate the increasing cases of dialysis patients afflicted with the virus. Furthermore, kidney transplantation procedures were halted.

The 10th leading cause of mortality in the country in 2020, kidney failure is one of the leading causes of hospitalization. For the past decade, prevalence of dialysis has increased to approximately 400 percent.

As we come to terms with the magnitude of this debilitating disease exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic, we have to take time to pause and ponder on how we can prevent our kidney health from deteriorating.

During the 67th Nutritionist Dietitian’s Association of the Philippines annual convention on Feb. 25, NYU Langone Hospital’s administrative dietitian, Elena Godoy Sicilliano, presented the following habits that harm your kidneys: overusing painkillers, abusing the saltshaker, eating processed food, not drinking enough water, missing out on sleep, eating too much meat, eating too much food high in sugar, lighting up (smoking), drinking alcohol in excess, and sitting still for long periods of time.

The kidneys, according to her, do not only filter blood to remove waste and excess fluids. They also control red blood cell production, make vitamins for growth, as well as regulate blood pressure and certain nutrients in the body like calcium and potassium.

Sicilliano emphasized the impact of nutrition intervention and medical nutrition therapy on chronic kidney disease. She quoted from a publication of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics published in July 31, 2018: “Nutrition Management remains among the most important interventions for slowing CKD progression and delaying or preventing End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)…”

Sicilliano recommends these nutrition-related interventions for kidney health. To the saltshaker abusers, use herbs and spices and read nutrition labels. Go fresh and frozen instead of eating processed food. Drink plenty of water but be careful when you have fluid restrictions due to medical condition. Choose plant food more often. Control your calories. Drink alcohol in moderation or quit. Lastly, get moving if you tend to sit still for long periods of time. She also recommends functional food items that benefit kidney health like whole grains, legumes and soy products, and leafy greens.

Don’t take your kidneys for granted. Take action to have healthier kidneys today.