Coronavirus may be in the news right now but there is a more insidious disease affecting Michiganders, often causing no symptoms. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) in Michigan adults 20 years and older has risen to one million with no signs of slowing down. March is National Kidney Month and the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan (NKFM) reminds everyone about the importance of healthy lifestyle changes to keep your kidneys functioning optimally and prevent CKD. The two main causes of CKD are high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
Most of the million Michiganders do not even know they have the disease. But there is hope. Lifestyle changes, challenging though they are, can reduce this number in the future. The kidneys are the body’s chemical factories, filtering waste and performing vital functions such as producing red blood cells and controlling blood pressure. But over time, especially if you have high blood pressure or diabetes, the kidneys can become damaged with few or no physical symptoms to warn you that your kidneys are in trouble. Once your kidneys fail, you either have to go on dialysis or have a kidney transplant.
The good news is that these causes can be managed and even prevented through lifestyle changes, which you can begin at any time, in order to reduce the risk of CKD. Here are some steps to get started.
- We tell children to “eat the rainbow.” This also works for adults. Focus on eating more fruits and vegetables. When dining out, eat half your meal and save the other half for another day. Drink plain or flavored water to cut down on sugar-filled drinks. Choose low-sodium options. Try healthier variations of your comfort food or high-calorie recipes.
- Move as often as you can. Physical activity is essential for health. Try to do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity every week by breaking it down into more doable goals. Moderate activities can include walking (indoors or outdoors), swimming, biking or dancing. Play with your children or grandchildren. The NKFM offers Enhance Fitness and Matter of Balance workshops, designed for adults of any age or fitness level to enjoy moving with a group and an instructor, in communities across Michigan.
- Prevent diabetes. If you have been identified as having prediabetes (your blood sugar is increased but not enough for a diabetes diagnosis), consider taking the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), an evidence-based lifestyle change program that is making a difference in the lives of thousands of Michiganders by helping them reduce the risk, delay the onset or prevent diabetes. Find out your risk via the risk test at ReadySetPrevent.org. Upcoming DPP classes are also listed on the site.
- Learn to manage chronic disease. If you have a chronic disease such as diabetes or kidney disease, consider taking a no-cost NKFM Personal Action Toward Health (PATH) workshop. (PATH) workshops provide skills and tools to help people with long-term health problems and their loved ones lead healthier lives. The PATH workshop schedule is at nkfm.org/PATH.
- Finally, see a doctor for a checkup. Talk with a doctor about your risk factors for diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney disease, and ask to be tested for these conditions.
For more information about the prevention or management of high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney disease, please visit www.nkfm.org or call 800-482-1455.
Kidney Disease Facts:
- 26 million American adults (age 20+) have chronic kidney disease.
- More than 1,000,000 Michigan adults (age 20+) have chronic kidney disease. That is 1 out of 7 adults.
- Individuals with diabetes and high blood pressure are at higher risk for developing chronic kidney disease.
- African Americans are nearly 3.5 times more likely to develop kidney failure from diabetes than Caucasians.
- African Americans make up only 14% of the population yet make up 45% of the dialysis population and 46% of those on the kidney transplant waiting list.
- Kidney disease costs American taxpayers nearly $100 billion every year.
- As the incidence of obesity in children increases, so does the rate of type 2 diabetes. One in three kids born in 2000 will develop diabetes.
- Just over 2,200 people were waiting for a lifesaving kidney transplant in Michigan as of on February 1, 2020.
About the NKFM
The mission of the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan is to prevent kidney disease and improve the quality of life for those living with it. The NKFM provides more programs and services to more people in Michigan than any other region or state. For the past 12 years, Charity Navigator — the nation’s leading nonprofit evaluator — has recognized the NKFM with its highest rating of 4 stars for success in sound fiscal management. nkfm.org