Cutting down on the intake of salt can go a long way in preventing kidney diseases at a young age, say health experts. Kidney failure is among the top five major causes of death in the country. There has been an increase in the number of patients in the age group of 25 to 30 seeking dialysis, which was not the case five to six years back, says Dr Arun P Doshi, the consulting nephrologist at Mumbai’s Saifee Hospital.
Hypertension is one of the causes of renal failure and there is a clear co-relation between salt intake and hypertension, he says. “An excess intake of salt may result in hypertension, but conversely, if you can control the blood pressure, you can definitely cut down the chance of renal failure,” Doshi says. “The onus, to regulate what constitutes our diet, should be on us. But if someone oversees your daily food, then moderation of salt intake should definitely be high on his/her list,” he says. Doshi claimed that kidney failure is among the top five major causes of death of people in India. “When it comes to our diet, foods like cheese, butter, sugar and salt are the major culprits and moderating their consumption should be prioritised,” he says.
Quoting the Indian Chronic Kidney Disease registry report, Dr Amit Langote, a consultant nephrologist at the Apollo Hospital in Navi Mumbai, says more younger people have been coming in for dialysis from north India, as compared to other regions. This is because of the early detection of chronic kidney disease due to medical checkup and accessibility to dialysis centres even in rural areas, he says. “The epidemic of obesity and diabetes remains an important cause of the chronic kidney diease,” Langote says. “Most Indian women are in-charge of the food prepared at homes. Raising awareness among them to reduce the use of salt, oil and sugar in the food of their loved ones would go a long way in curbing diabetes and obesity, and help in better management of hypertension,” he says.
Physicians should be urged to screen hypertensive and diabetic patients for early kidney damage, Langote says. “An early intervention may retard the progression of kidney disease. The planning for preventive health policies and allocation of more resources for the treatment of chronic kidney disease/end stage renal disease patients are the need of the hour,” he says.
Dr Mahesh Prasad, a kidney expert at the Wockhardt Hospital here, says women who cook have a crucial role to play in avoiding kidney related ailments among their family members. “Pickles, papad, chutney and extra-salt items like ‘namkeens’ (fried snacks) should be avoided as far as possible. A little reduction in the intake of salt can help in controlling various kidney problems, even medicines can work better then,” he says.
Dr Hemal Shah, the head of the nephrology department at Saifee hospital, suggests that just taking a few steps towards salt reduction can go a long way in maintaning good health. “Go for a low-calorie, low salt diet vis-a-vis fried snacks, during tea time. Have at least five servings of fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy products and nuts that are low in salt, instead of chips and samosas,” he suggests. “Do away with the table salt. Never add extra salt on top of your salads and other food preparations,” he says.
Aditi Shelar, a city-based nutritionist, says kidney diseases can be prevented by avoiding non-steroidal anti- inflammatory drugs like painkillers and other over-the- counter drugs, by controlling blood pressure with salt restrictive diet and by having a healthy lifestyle along with a balanced diet. “Regular physical activity, avoiding alcohol and smoking, and following doctor’s prescription for particular health issues help in preventing kidney ailments,” she says.
Dr Manoj Kutteri, the director at a Pune-based wellness centre, says the primary causes of kidney ailments in India are diabetes and cardio-vascular diseases arising from an unhealthy lifestyle. The excessive consumption of salt alone is not a major reason for kidney diseases, though it is also a contributing factor, he says. He says a transformation in changing the dietary patterns was necessary. This includes having a healthy diet consisting of whole grains, plenty of vegetables and fruits, and minimising the intake of non-vegetarian food, reducing sugar and salt consumption and avoiding deep fried foods. This will in-turn help in reducing the use of medications, which can also cause kidney damage, Kutteri says.