Does kidney disease come to mind when making your food choices? Or are you among the Kenyans who, when weekend beckons, are the first to start calling all and sundry enquiring where the party is at.
You love the sight of sizzling nyama choma on a good Saturday and a cold beverage to let it settle in or aid with digestion.
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Have you ever stopped to think whether you are eating yourself to ill-health?
Kidney disease is closely linked to our lifestyles. On a recent visit to the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, the evident burden of the disease became apparent.
The renal unit receives about 30 patients everyday in need of dialysis.
David Olieba, an administration police officer in Narok lay on his bed after his morning session. His wife, dutifully waited outside.
Olieba has lived with kidney disease for over two years now. ‘’It has cost me a lot of money. I have even sold the only farm that I had’’ That was before NHIF begun taking care of his treatment costs.
‘’It’s been such a relief.’’ He notes.
Now he worries more about the cost of travel for the two of them. Olieba takes us through the first days when he was diagnosed with kidney disease.
‘’tHERE were times it would take two days just waiting for dialysis. Nowadays it takes between 4 to 5 hours and all is well’’
He is yet to find funds to enable him get a kidney transplant. It will offer him much needed relief.
Susan Limo has undergone kidney transplant at MTRH. She was among the first patients to undergo the procedure here in 2016.
The Kenya Renal Association estimates that about 4 million Kenyans are suffering from chronic kidney disease. The infrastructure, while improving, has many gaps. for instance, there are only 29 kidney specialists in the country.
Although there are more dialysis units now, 46 in total, still there are regions that do not have access to them exposing the sick too long travels in search of care.
It is not just about the statistics. Health experts are now concerned by the attitudes of people towards what constitutes good health.
‘’If you look at my community when you are obese people think you are doing well.’’ Cautions Dr Philip Cheptinga, a Nephrologist at MTRH in Eldoret.
Being overweight is a concern not just in regard to kidney disease, but diabetes, heart disease and even high blood pressure.
The Global Nutrition report released in 2016 noted that 1 in 2 women living in urban areas and 1 in 4 living in rural Kenya are obese.
Dr.Cheptinga, ‘’Food is killing us. All this is just food’’.
Is it about time we took an inventory of what we consume? What do you eat in the morning, lunchtime, how much salt is in your food? You need to balance says Dr Cheptinga;
”You need to avoid some of the foods like red meat. You can have 2 or 3 pieces a week”
You read that right. Dr Cheptinga’s prescription to healthier kidneys is that you significantly reduce your red meat intake.
Other measures you can take to take care of your kidneys are
Stay hydrated – It is not just your kidneys that will reward you, but your body will respond positively to it.
Eat healthily – That means having your dietary requirements in moderation. No, eating too much meat does not mean you have the means. nor is drinking too much soda.