When it hits closer to home then it becomes disturbing. We often hear of people suffering from kidney diseases and feel empathy for patients and their families, but when the disease strikes someone dear to us the realization of its severity becomes alarming. According to the United States Renal Data System, Diabetes is the leading cause of Chronic Kidney Failure (CKD). This is sad considering that Type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle induced disease and can be managed, if not prevented.
The 2007 US Renal Data System reports that 43.8 percent of CKD is caused by diabetes, this is followed by high blood pressure, 26.8 percent; Glomerulonephritis, 7.6 percent; Cystic diseases, 2.3% and Urologic diseases, 2.0 percent.
Although factors like age, family history and ethnicity are constant variables, contributing factors specifically lifestyle, is a controllable factor that can help prevent diabetes. For example, in the United States studies show that African Americans, Hispanics and American Indians are more likely to develop diabetes, CKD and kidney failure than Caucasians. However, lifestyle changes in diet and increased physical activity are major components in preventing diabetes. In other words, diabetes prevention is no rocket science. It is simply living a healthy lifestyle.
Technology has drastically changed lifestyles in this millennium. We have PS3, the Xbox, Wii, iPads and other tablets, our laptops, netbooks, notebooks, Netflix, iPhones, BBMs – all intended to break communication and information barriers and uplift our standards of living. Ironically, these same electronic gadgets and “toys” have tied us down to our couches and homes. It fostered sedentary lifestyles for many, reducing physical activities to the bare minimum. General practitioners recommend that we should engage in 30 minutes of physical activity daily, for at least 5 days every week. That’s not too much is it?
An improved diet also helps prevent diabetes. This means consuming more good foods than bad foods (read: low in fat and high in fiber). Interestingly, the “traditional soul food” which African Americans are fond of, being a significant part of their culture and history, are mostly deep fried meats and rich in gravies. The smart choice is to grill or bake rather than pan fry or deep fry, and to stay away from gravies no matter how they liven up the meat, discard the skin from chicken; consume lots of fruits in their natural or raw state, and eat lots of vegetables.
Indeed, health practitioners have reported that improving physical activity levels and an improved diet notably reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 50%. Kidney diseases associated with diabetes take years to develop. Usually it takes 15- 25 years for diabetics to show signs of kidney failure. To be safe, diabetics need to be screened regularly for kidney disease through eGFR and urine albumin. eGFR (estimated glomerular filtration rate) measures how much blood the glomeruli filters every minute, based on the amount of creatinine in the blood sample. When the eGFR is less than 60 mm/minute then a person has kidney disease. Meanwhile, urine albumin screening measures the amount of albumin against creatinine in a urine sample. Kidney damage is indicated when the urine sample has more than 30 mg or albumin per gram of creatinine.
Blood pressure medicines, in particular angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), have been effective in slowing kidney diseases among diabetic patients. Also, those with diabetes and in the early stages of CKD should be able to manage their blood glucose.
As you can see it is more burdensome to manage and care for patients with diabetes, in order to prevent kidney diseases. The better option is to prevent diabetes by living a healthier lifestyle. But most of the time, we tend to ignore this until it hits closer to home. *