8 months ago

Chronic kidney disease and its causes  

Chronic kidney disease is defined as the gradual and irreversible deterioration of the kidneys. This results in the loss of kidney , which no longer filters the body’s blood properly. More than 80 000 people are affected by this disease. 

What role do the kidneys play? 

The kidneys are two small organs located under the ribs on the backside of the body, and serve 3 vital s. It’s also important to know that the kidneys filter around 190 litres of blood every day, and it is possible to live a relatively normal life with one ing kidney. 

What are the main s of the kidneys? 

The kidneys play an important role in fluid regulation in the body, keeping a balance between the amount of fluid entering and leaving the body. For example, in an average adult male weighing 70kg, the total body water volume is approximately 42 litres.

Kidneys also filter out waste products, such as urea and excess fluids, collected by the blood and transported throughout the body, as well as eliminating excess mineral and macro elements. These elements include potassium, sodium and phosphorus, which we ingest through our diet, and the kidneys filter out and leave the quantities necessary for proper bodily . 

Finally, kidneys also secrete hormones that are essential for the body:

  • Renin, a hormone that is essential for the regulation of blood pressure.
  • Erythropoietin, a hormone which acts in the bone marrow to produce red blood cells, in order to transport oxygen to the body.
  • Calcitriol, the active form of vitamin D, which plays a role in calcium absorption in the gut and binding to the bones (as well as phosphate to the blood).

As you can see, the kidneys perform many essential bodily s, which can be impaired by diseases such as chronic renal failure. 

What causes chronic renal diseases? 

Over 50% of chronic kidney diseases, which lead to long term kidney failure, are caused by diabetes and hypertension. Hypertension leads to the narrowing of small arteries and a decrease in vascularisation, which result in kidney dys. In the case of diabetes, this leads to deterioration of the small vessels of the glomeruli, which progressively reduces the filtration capacity of the kidneys. 

Other risk factors, which are present in 50% of cases, are diverse and vary from person to person. These risk factors can be genetic, can be due to a presence of cysts (polycystic kidney disease), caused by bacterial infections or can involve inflammatory mechanisms. 

What is chronic kidney disease (CKD)?

CKD causes a decrease in the kidneys ability to filter blood, leading to the requirement of dialysis for the individuals with this disease. Dialysis machines remove waste products from the blood, such as excess water and minerals, and replace the role of the kidneys for these individuals. Three to four sessions a week are mandatory to keep the patients healthy, and Haemodialysis is also very demanding in terms of fatigue, time and diet. 

The accumulation of waste and water in the body means that the diet of these patients must be closely monitored and controlled by a dietician. During dialysis, only 500ml of water is recommended per day, and it is also important to limit salt consumption. This means limiting the intake of cold cuts, ready meals, processed foods etc, as well as limiting the consumption of potassium (mainly present in fruits and vegetables), phosphorus (mainly present in dairy products) and protein. In addition, there is the added factor of taking medication. Of course, all of this advice should be adapted according to your personal state of health. 

The best remedy for CKD remains a kidney transplant, as this allows people with the disease to avoid haemodialysis sessions, and allows for a better quality of life and better chances of survival. Unfortunately there is a very small amount of kidney transplants available for patients, and some may wait a very long time before getting one. 

Nutritional engineer at Nutrimis