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Climate change may lead more people to develop kidney stones

Kidney News

New research

Climate change may lead more people to develop kidney stones

Climate change may lead more people to develop kidney stones

Jan 26th 2022
Author: Amna N.
Review: Dr. Umair H.

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Global climate crisis could cause more people to suffer from kidney stones, study suggests.

According to a new finding by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, kidney stones cases will increase between 2.2% and 3.9% as the global temperature rises. Raised temperatures due to the climate crisis will subsequently lead to a rise in people suffering from kidney stones. It is a painful medical condition which worsens by heat and dehydration, according to new discovery. Researchers used two climate scenarios to assess the burden of heat and humidity relating kidney stone disease by the end of the century in South Carolina, a region which currently has a higher than average prevalence rate.

About one in 10 people in US suffers from kidney stones at a certain point in their life. Kidney stones are caused by hard deposits of minerals (mostly calcium) that develop in concentrated urine and are extremely painful while passing through the urinary tract.

The incidence of kidney stones has escalated over the past two decades, especially among people of color, women and adolescents. According to researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (Chop), the number of cases will significantly increase depending on whether greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate or are cut to an intermediate level, leading to a huge rise in health costs either way.

Diet and lifestyle changes have aided to the rise in the condition, but prior study has demonstrated that high ambient temperatures increase the risk. The number of people seeking medical help for kidney stones worsens during extremely hot days when the risk of dehydration increases.

A pediatric urologist at Chop and senior author of the study published in Scientific Reports states that impact of climate change on human health, particularly children, is often not discussed but a warming planet will have significant effects on human health. He further commented that it is impossible to predict with certainty how future policies will slow or hasten greenhouse gas emission and anthropogenic climate change, and to know exactly what future daily temperatures will be. He further suggested that as pediatric researchers, we have a duty to explore the burden of climate change on human health, as the children of today will be living this reality in the future.

New FDA Guidelines for lower sodium content in processed foods

Kidney News

Health guidelines

New FDA Guidelines for lower sodium content in processed foods

New FDA Guidelines for lower sodium content in processed foods

Nov 12th 2021
Author: Amna N.
Review: Dr. Umair H.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has lowered the recommended amount of salt in processed, packaged and prepared foods. The objective of the new, voluntary guideline is to help reduce the daily sodium intake of Americans from 3,400 milligrams (mg) to 3,000 mg per day, nearly 12 percent, over the next 2.5 years.

report published by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shows that Americans consume 50% more sodium than recommended, on average, and more than 95% of children aged two to 13 years old exceed recommended limits of sodium in their age groups. FDA called it a critical step in efforts to reduce the burden of diet-related chronic disease and advance health equity. Too much sodium intake leads to hypertension, and that causes both heart disease, strokes and even kidney damage. Every year, these diseases take lives of thousands of people in America. Limiting sodium content in diet can play a huge role in preventing these diseases.

According to FDA’s official statement, packaged, processed, and restaurant foods make up an estimated 70% of the sodium we eat. Despite this change, the new FDA sodium guidelines still does not meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommends a limit of 2,300 milligrams per day for those 14 and older. FDA’s move is commended by the health societies and associations all over the US but demanded more steps to combat the situation.

Diets high in sodium increase blood pressure levels. High blood pressure damages the kidneys over time and is a leading cause of kidney failure. As high blood pressure rates have increased, kidney disease has spiraled to the point where it now affects 26 million Americans. Strategies that reduce salt intake for the masses can have the effect of lowering blood pressure and that may be beneficial in easing the burden of chronic kidney disease in the country.

Following are some tips by the National Kidney Foundation to help Americans reduce salt intake.

  • Use fresh foods, rather than packaged foods including beef, chicken or pork. If a food item keeps well in the fridge for days or weeks, the sodium content is too high.
  • Choose fresh fruit and vegetables as well since they are very low in sodium. Canned and frozen fruits are also low in sodium, as these usually don’t contain added sodium.
  • When buying frozen vegetables, choose those that are labeled “fresh frozen” and do not contain added seasoning or sauces.
  • Compare various brands of the same food item until you find the one that has the lowest sodium content, since this will vary from brand to brand.
  • Select spices or seasonings that do not list sodium on their labels, i.e. choose garlic powder over garlic salt.
  • Do your research, before dining out. Visit the restaurant’s website which should list the sodium content of various dishes served there. Alternatively, when you’re at the restaurant and ready to order, you can request that the dish be served without salt.
  • Beware of products that don’t taste especially salty but still have high sodium content, such as cottage cheese.

Healthy eating during the holidays

Kidney News

Healthy diet

Healthy eating during the holidays

Healthy eating during the holidays

Dec 22nd 2021
Author: Amna N.
Review: Dr. Umair H.

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The holiday season is typically a time for celebration. In many traditions, food signifies family, togetherness, and sharing. Food has always been an essential part of holiday celebrations in the US. It can be challenging for people living with chronic kidney disease (CKD). There are, however, still ways CKD patients can enjoy their favorite holiday foods and maintain their dietary restrictions. Patients living with CKD must follow certain dietary guidelines, including limited intake of protein, sodium (salt), potassium, phosphorus, whereas for people with diabetes, carbohydrates. So long as you consider and control your portion sizes during holiday dinners, it’s a lot easier to stay within your dietary constraints.

Sodium is found in many holiday foods like ham, smoked meat, sausage, cheese, stuffing, dips, chips, fishcake, poke, shoyu, and gravy. While choosing salty foods, use a snack size plate, so that you are less likely to eat large portions of the same item. Use condiments in moderation or put them on the side. You can dilute shoyu or any other soy sauce by adding equal parts of water. This will help lower its sodium content. You can also use tamari or liquid aminos instead as they contain less sodium. High potassium foods include any kind of potatoes, yams, taro and poi, breadfruit, squash, pumpkin, dark leafy greens, seaweed, tomato and tomato sauce, melon, banana, dried fruits, acai, avocado, and coconut. If you have options for starchy foods, it’s better to choose rice, grains, or pasta, and if diabetic, limit to the size of a computer mouse. Salads or vegetables are a healthy meal choice. Choose fruit pies like peach or apple for dessert, or plain cakes or shortbread cookies without nuts or chocolate. Ambrosia salad or fruits are another good dessert choice.

Holiday foods that are high in phosphorus include most dairy-based dishes and desserts (milk, cream, or cheese); also processed foods, nuts, chocolate, and cola sodas are very high in phosphorus. Instead of choosing brownies with nuts or chocolate cake, try plain cake or cookies, or fruit-based desserts. If you need to restrict your dietary phosphorus and are on dialysis, make sure to take your phosphate binders with all meals and snacks. It will help to control the amount of phosphorus you absorb from your meals. If your physician has given you a fluid restriction, keep in mind that all foods that become liquid at room temperature count as part of your daily fluid intake. Soups, jello, ice cream, pudding, and gravy are included in fluids. Reducing salt in your diet can also help you to feel less thirsty. It’s okay to have a glass of wine, as long as your physician has approved of alcoholic beverages consumption. Enjoy sparkling cider, club soda with a twist, lemon-lime soda, or iced tea.

Know how much carbohydrate and protein you are allowed on your kidney diet! In general, if you limit yourself to a deck of cards-sized portions of protein (less if you have stage 4 or 5 CKD and are not on dialysis), ½ cup of rice, stuffing, or vegetables, and limit your beverages to a 4-ounce serving, you will still be able to enjoy your holiday meal. In the US, most people have a lot of events to attend that include food. If you are able, try to plan ahead and avoid going to parties hungry, as you may tend to overeat throughout the day. Create a balanced plate and remember your serving sizes at all times. Bring along a kidney-friendly dish so that you have something to eat in case there are no kidney-friendly options. Lastly, remember to keep active throughout the holiday season. The most important thing to remember is to keep your own health at the forefront of your mind and get the support of family and friends to ensure you have a healthy holiday season. Enjoy!

Risk of Developing Kidney Disease Higher among COVID-19 Long-Haulers

Kidney News

New research

Risk of Developing Kidney Disease Higher among COVID-19 Long-Haulers

Risk of Developing Kidney Disease Higher among COVID-19 Long-Haulers

Sep 20th 2021
Author: Amna N.
Review: Dr. Umair H.

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A new study suggests that people who suffered from long COVID-19 are at a greater risk of developing kidney diseases and end-stage renal disease (ESRD) after recovery. New data was gathered at the Washington State University School of Medicine and the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System and the study was published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. The study was based on health information from more than 1.7 million healthy and COVID-infected people from March 1, 2020, through March 15, 2021. Out of these people, 89,216 were diagnosed with COVID-19 and survived the acute phase (the first 30 days of the disease). The alarming data was uncovered by a team of physician-researchers and epidemiologists.

People who suffer from long COVID-19 experience prolonged symptoms one, two or even three months after they were infected. The most concerning part is that there is no consistent reason for this to happen. Such people are referred to as COVID-19 long-haulers. This condition can affect people both with mild and severe cases.

A researcher from the group of scientists who published the study stated that people who had relatively mild disease and did not need hospitalization also went on to develop kidney problems including AKI, a decline in glomerular filtration rate (GFR), and end-stage renal disease (ERKD) which was a matter of concern for the researchers and healthcare providers. However, the severity of kidney outcomes was proportional to the severity of acute infections. Hospitalized patients who experienced Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) experienced a greater long-term decrease in kidney function than non-hospitalized people with AKI.

During the study, it was also observed that people with long COVID can have a 30% decline in GFR without showing any symptoms. In this regard, doctors state that many people with kidney problems are asymptomatic and are unaware of the fact that they need treatment unless it gets severe. According to the study, a major decline in kidney function occurs in the first 120 days and then levels off.

Despite being the largest study on post-acute sequelae of COVID (PASC), the study has its limitations. Studying veterans, a group consisting of people mostly above the age of 60, white males — limits the study population, which probably reduces the ability to generalize outcomes to the rest of the populations.

The researchers recommend integrating kidney care into post-acute COVID-19 care pathways. For better understanding, NIH is studying and conducting trials on how SARS-CoV-2 may lead to widespread and lasting symptoms and is working to develop ways to treat or prevent these conditions.

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