Kidneys are bean-shaped organs in our body which play a vital role in general health and maintenance of blood pressure. They are among the most hardworking organs in our body. You will be amazed to know that our blood gets filtered nearly 40 times a day in the kidney. Imagine the amount of work it does to filter the blood of toxins to produce nearly a liter of urine. Apart from its cleansing activity, it also plays a key part in maintaining the blood pressure in our body.
Hence to lead a healthy life we need our kidneys to work efficiently. Any disturbance in its functioning will lead to ill health. We have to note a fact that once damaged, this organ does not regenerate itself. Hence the proverb ‘prevention is always better than cure’ is very apt. so we have the best five healthy kidney tips.
How to Keep Kidneys Healthy for Kids
Now, coming to the point… How can we take care of the Kidneys of our children?
Children like adults can also have kidney problems. If your child has a kidney problem then you must visit a doctor. The specialist who takes care of children with Kidney diseases is called Pediatric Nephrologists.
But we are not going to talk about kidney diseases in children today. We are going to discuss how can you take care of your kids so that they do not suffer from kidney problems when they grow up to be adults like you.
5 Healthy kidney tips to protect your kid’s kidneys naturally
Here are five super tips for preventing kidney problems in your child. These will naturally keep kidney problems away.
1. Prevent UTI (Urinary Tract Infection)
The urinary tract is the ‘pee track’ which starts from the kidneys and ends with the external genitalia.
Any infection in the urinary tract has a chance to infect the kidney directly or indirectly. And like any infection elsewhere in the body, infection in the kidney will damage the functioning units in the kidney called nephrons and will lead to a scar formation. This process is irreversible.
Hence UTI has to be identified and treated in time. Children cannot communicate properly about the pain and burning sensation they feel while passing urine which is a cardinal symptom in adults with UTI. Hence parents should notice the subtle symptoms like crying while passing urine, a few small squirts of urine that are passed in quick succession (staccato urination) and fever.
Remember that prompt treatment will prevent kidney scarring.
Some of the ways to prevent UTI
- Children should not hold urine for long. Teachers in schools must be taught about this and kids should be allowed to go to the toilet in a timed fashion.
- As a part of genital hygiene teach kids to clean the external genitalia after passing urine with water. This should be done every time.
- Timely scheduled water bells are a good option to encourage children to drink more water. Also, studies have shown that this helps in the improvement of scholastic performance in children.
- In girls, cleaning after passing stools should be from front to back and not from back to front. The concept is that the bacteria from the stool should not enter the vaginal area. Also, the hand should be cleaned with soap after every cycle (ie. from front to back).
In some children born with congenital anomalies, (CAKUT – congenital abnormalities of kidneys and urinary tract ), it’s imperative to identify the abnormality to address it correctly.
Pro tip –
Make sure that the mothers clean the genital area in young girls to keep it clean and to identify vaginal tags (excessive skin) to prevent recurrent infection.
2. Prevent development of hypertension
Childhood hypertension is on the rise. From a sedentary lifestyle to addiction to gadgets and westernization of diet with fast food, salty foods as well as unhealthy fats, all contribute to the ever-increasing epidemic of hypertension in children.
And long-standing hypertension causes damage to the heart, blood vessels and ultimately the kidney. The second leading cause of kidney failure in adulthood is hypertension, and the development of hypertension begins in childhood.
What can you do to nip it at the bud?
- Avoid processed food high in salt, (Ex – chips, fries, fast food, soft drinks, deep-fried samosas etc….). The compliance with such a diet is successful only if the whole family chips in and parents also change their eating habits. (which will be in turn beneficial to them also.)
- In get-togethers such as birthday parties, instead of fast food, natural fruits and nuts should be used. Instead of giving soft drinks or rasna, fresh-cut fruit and fresh fruit juices may be introduced.
- Instead of video games or TV watching, schedule outdoor activities like walking and playing.
Pro tip –
Low salt diet and high potassium diet, for example, fruits, vegetables, and Nuts can keep kidney-related problems at bay.
3. Control Blood Sugars
Childhood diabetes and Prediabetes (impaired fasting glucose) incidence is increasing alarmingly.
More and more urban children are developing the triad of metabolic syndrome (Diabetes, Hypertension, and Obesity). The cause can be attributed to a sedentary lifestyle and dietary habits. This elevated blood glucose over a long period causes end-organ damages to vital organs like kidney and heart. It is noteworthy to know that diabetes mellitus is the leading cause of kidney failure on this planet. Also, this causes hormonal imbalances leading to precocious puberty and PCOD in adolescent girls.
How to tackle this problem?
- Avoid processed foods, use whole foods like millets instead of refined flour (Maida).
- Reduce the consumption of sugar in the form of ice creams, packed milkshakes, fruit juice concentrates, bakery items like cakes and doughnuts.
- Encourage wholesome fruits and nuts.
- Don’t add sugar to milk if possible and avoid beverages mix like Boost and Bournavita which are full of sugar.
- Keep your kids and whole family completely away from soft drinks which are again full of sugar and high fructose corn syrup. These mainly contributed to the present epidemic of metabolic syndrome, diabetes and heart disease in this century.
- Try to consume less Invisible sugar which is present in bread and bakery items as fas as possible.
Pro tip –
Try to avoid the 5 whites as much as possible. These include Sugar, Salt, White polished rice, Soda, and Maida (Refined Flour). This is the secret to a healthy life as a whole.
This forms the main component of the metabolic syndrome. Did you know that the World Health Organization (WHO) has labeled obesity as a disease? With the availability of excessive food, the balance of nutritional diseases is tipping from malnutrition to obesity. You can see this pattern in both developed and developing worlds.
The main causes of obesity are excessive food intake and less physical activity. Obesity is not just being overweight, it wreaks havoc to one’s metabolism. The body fat, also called “adipose tissue” is a metabolically active tissue that releases hormones. Obesity, in turn, causes abnormalities of the thyroid and leads to diabetes, hypertension, and metabolic syndrome.
How to address this major issue?
As far as possible try to avoid/minimize eating refined carbohydrates, excessively fatty foods (for example, Cheese in pizzas, etc..) Also avoid long periods of computer/video games, television viewing time. Being a couch potato will lead to a lot of health complications which will indirectly affect your child’s kidneys as well. Also, try to include exercise in your child’s daily routine. If your kid is older he/she can accompany you to your walk or jog. Otherwise, usually for kids keeping a fair share of time to be spent outdoors makes up for the required exercise.
Pro tip –
Remember the 5 whites, limit screen time to 1 hour and encourage outdoor time.
5. Avoid excess/ un-prescribed Pain killer usage
There is an increasing trend to use Mefthal syrup (Mefenamic acid), which is an NSAID (Pain killer medicine), for controlling fever in children. This may lead to blood in the urine referred to as hematuria and some times kidney failure referred to as Acute Kidney Injury (AKI).
There is no major benefit of using this medicine over paracetamol which is kidney-friendly and as effective as any other antipyretic agent (fever medications). Hence unless and until prescribed by your pediatrician, do not use Mefanemic acid for fever.
Some parents of toddlers and occasionally adolescents are routinely using Saridon (Propyphenazone )and other agents like Voveran (Diclofenac) for muscle pains (Growing pains in children) or pain from routine play (for example after about playing cricket in the hot sun). You must not encourage this habit. Both these agents can cause muscle damage (rhabdomyolysis) and kidney damage eventually.
Pro tip –
Every medicine available in the present world can have some or the other side effects. Do not self medicate. Always consult your doctor before using any over the counter medication.
Everybody wants to lead a healthy life. In today’s world diabetes, hypertension and kidney problems are commonplace. Though people suffer as adults, the problem actually starts in childhood. I hope these tips will help your kid to adopt a healthy lifestyle and avoid these diseases as they grow up.
If you think these are important or if you have something to add please do write in the comments section below.