When it comes to our health, there are many things that we can do to maintain a healthy lifestyle as we age. For instance, we can strive to eat a diverse array of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis, or we might make a habit of taking a jog around the block a few times a week. Nonetheless, despite our best efforts, some diseases and disorders aren’t currently preventable and can leave a lasting effect on our overall well-being.
Fortunately, chronic kidney disease (CKD) is not one of them. While it is incredibly common, affecting up to 15 percent of adults (or 37 million people in the United States), it’s also largely preventable for a vast majority of the population. A combination of dietary and lifestyle changes has been shown to help mitigate the side effects of this condition, allowing patients to live healthier, more robust lives.
What is Chronic Kidney Disease?
Kidneys are essential organs that work incredibly hard to help us process and filter out waste and excessive fluid from our bloodstream. These byproducts of metabolism are then excreted in our urine, allowing us to maintain a healthy homeostasis in our systems.
For some of us, it’s only when they start to fail that we actually take notice of our kidneys. This gradual loss of kidney function is known as chronic kidney failure or chronic kidney disease. Should your kidneys grow impaired and not work as effectively, a toxic accumulation of waste, electrolytes, and fluids can start to build up, leading to harmful levels of these substances in the body.
The Signs and Symptoms of CKD
One of the more dangerous aspects of chronic kidney disease is how subtle it can be at first. In its earliest stages, you might not even realize that you have this very serious medical condition. However, as the disease progresses, the symptoms can grow more evident, leading to more severe side effects.
Some of the more common signs of CKD include:
- Nausea, vomiting, and appetite loss
- Changes in urination frequency
- A loss of appetite and hunger
- Fluid retention in ankles and feet
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Problems with mental clarity
- Shortness of breath and chest pain
Certain demographics may also be more prone to developing chronic kidney disease. Because of this, it’s especially important that you remain both vigilant and proactive about this condition. For instance, women are slightly more likely than men to develop CKD. Older people are also more likely to develop this condition over younger individuals, and minorities are also at higher risk of developing it.
Prevention and Treatment
Age, biological sex, and racial background are not the only variables that can influence the likelihood of getting CKD. Research has shown that individuals who are overweight and have sedentary lifestyles are also at an elevated risk. A poor diet is also a possible risk factor, as is the use of tobacco products. Individuals with uncontrolled diabetes and elevated blood pressure are also more susceptible to chronic kidney disease.
Current treatment for CKD includes trying to delay the progression of damage to the kidneys. However, this may not be effective in all cases, and dialysis (artificial filtering) or a kidney transplant may become necessary. Kidney neuropathy is fairly common in patients who do wind up requiring dialysis, yet emerging studies have shown remarkable promise in the introduction of Klotho protein to delay this complication.
Klotho protein is linked to the KL gene, and numerous studies have found it to play a key role in phosphate homeostasis. Heterozygosity is considered the ideal expression of this gene, but homozygosity (and its adverse effects) may be treated by the external introduction of this enzyme. Its presence has been shown to have a profound effect on nearly all avenues of health aging, further highlighting its value in longevity.
Remaining Healthy At All Ages
Ultimately, staying healthy can have a considerable impact on your overall well-being and your longevity. By taking the time to educate yourself about conditions like CKD and taking preventive measures to avoid it, you can help ensure that your golden years are just as healthy as the ones that preceded them.