Kidney Awareness Week is celebrated from the 2nd -8th September in South Africa, with a focus on the general functioning and overall health of our kidneys. Kidneys are amongst our most vital organs as they produce essential chemicals that our bodies need to dispose of all the excess water and salt that we consume. Not only do kidneys remove waste from the body, they keep substances found in the blood at the correct level. Healthy kidneys produce important hormones that regulate bodily functions. Certain lifestyle habits, foods and over-the counter medication can damage the kidneys. Chronic kidney disease, also known as kidney failure occurs when your kidneys lose their functionality over time.
Most people with kidney disease tend not to experience any symptoms until the very last stages, when the kidneys are failing. Possible symptoms of kidney disease include:
- Swelling, particularly of the ankles
- Puffiness of the eyes
- Muscle cramps, especially in your legs
- Weight loss
- Dry, itchy skin
- Being short of breath
- Not being able to taste
- Having to urinate more often than normal ₂
Gert Coetzee, Pharmacist and Diet pioneer who founded The Diet Everyone Talks About says that kidney health is important as it contributes to our overall health. Below he lists some hints and tips that can contribute to kidney health.
- Avoid junk food: Although convenient, fast foods, sweetened drinks and treats as well as other processed foods are bad for your kidneys. Consumption of these foods will cause an accumulation of sugar in the blood which can have a negative impact on our vital organs – including the kidneys.
- Cut down on red meat: Eating too much red meat may increase the risks of kidney failure. Some red meats are high in saturated fats, which raises blood cholesterol. Rather go for healthier options such as unprocessed fish or poultry.
- Lose weight: The more you weigh, the harder your kidneys have to work to filter more blood than normal in order to avoid the risk of getting kidney disease. Develop a healthy diet for yourself and get into the habit of exercising more often in order to maintain a healthy weight.
- Stock up on your greens: Dark green, leafy vegetables have a special place in your diet as they come with nothing but health benefits. They are rich in important minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and vitamins A, B1, B2 and K which are all good for you.
- Choose your fats wisely: You need to be careful when choosing which fats to consume. Go avocado oil and extra-virgin olive oil rather than hard, saturated fats. This will help protect the blood vessels in your kidneys.
Below is a delicious recipe for Oven-Baked Fish which contains ingredients that are all beneficial to your health and well-being.
Prep time: 25 min
CHD: 2 g per portion
kJ: 350 kJ
4: Fish fillets
Little: Extra-virgin oil to brush
1: Green pepper, seeded, finely chopped
1: Onion, chopped
1: Tomato, sliced
To taste: Lemon juice
Pick to taste: Salt, pepper, bay leaves, oregano, sage, thyme, marjoram
250 ml: Cheese, grated, optional
- Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
- Place fish on oil-brushed foil, brush the fish also with oil.
- Add green pepper, onion and tomato.
- Season with lemon juice and seasoning to taste.
- Wrap fish loosely in foil.
- Place in baking dish and cover the bottom of the baking dish with a little water.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
Serve with a side of green leafy vegetables or a fresh green salad.