Kidney Health

Kidney disease is on the rise in Singapore. Here are five things you should know about kidney health and kidney care.

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As the body’s primary filtration system, the kidneys play a major role in keeping the body in balance. Here are five things to know about kidney health and kidney care. 

1. Get to Know Your Kidneys

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs situated on each side of the lower back. Each kidney is the size of a clenched fist. The kidneys play an important role in preventing the build-up of waste and extra fluid in the body, maintaining stable levels of electrolytes (such as sodium, potassium and phosphate), and producing hormones that help regulate blood pressure, maintain bone health and prevent anaemia. In doing so, they keep the body in balance on all fronts.

2. How Your Kidneys Work

Every day, about 110 to 140 litres of blood passes through our kidneys. Millions of small filtering units called nephrons within the kidneys filter the blood, letting out excess fluid and waste products while preventing blood cells and large molecules such as proteins from passing through. The filtered blood — with the right balance of water and minerals — is sent back to the bloodstream, while the waste is transported out of the kidneys into the bladder as urine.

3. Kidney Disease is on the Rise

Singapore has a high rate of kidney failure, with about 4.7 people diagnosed daily. One new patient is identified every five hours, and two in three cases of kidney failure are caused by poorly controlled diabetes.

4. Kidney Disease is Preventable

Like most organs in the body, the health of your kidneys can be affected by poor diet, lifestyle choices and inherited genes. Apart from uncontrollable factors such as family history, controllable risk factors include smoking, obesity, excessive intake of painkillers and poorly controlled blood pressure and/or diabetes. If you have any of these risk factors, it is important to speak with your doctor to learn how you can better manage your kidney health, such as controlling sugar levels, monitoring blood pressure and not smoking.

5. For Healthier Kidneys, Watch the Salt and Fat

Too much dietary salt reduces the kidneys’ ability to regulate fluids. This results in higher blood pressure, which can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys. The recommended salt intake is 5g (one teaspoon) a day — but many of us eat way more than this! To reduce salt consumption, always choose fresh food over processed or preserved food, and replace salt and sauces with fresh herbs, spices or lemon zest. 

Limit your intake of soups, gravies and condiments such as ketchup. Eating too much fat can also impact kidney health as obesity is a major risk factor for kidney disease. Limit fried food, reduce the amount of oil in everyday cooking, and leave the skin and fat behind when eating chicken and other meat. Healthy eating can help to prevent kidney disease.

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