DOH-XI urges public to avoid salty foods, ‘junk’ to prevent kidney diseases

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/22 June) – The Department of Health (DOH) in the region called on the public Monday to take care of their kidneys by avoiding salty foods.

Dr. Maria Theresa Lorenzo Bad-ang, spokesperson in the region of the DOH’s Renal Disease Control Program pointed out that eating “junk foods” like corn and potato chips, which have high salt content, can cause renal disease if done often.

Bad-ang said that the recommended daily allowance for salt amounts only to two grams per day. She expressed her alarm about how people—especially school children—eat these foods on a regular basis.

“Each bag [of chips] contain about 3,000 to 5,000 mg of salt,” she said, adding that if a person has to offset that amount of salt intake by drinking water, that person has to drink 5 to 10 times the recommended amount of eight glasses per day.

The official added that excessive salt intake affects how we think food tastes, thereby impairing our judgement that helps us identify whether the food we eat is too salty or not.

She recommended taking a break from salty food for six weeks to “reset” our body’s neurotransmitters or brain chemicals that communicate information throughout a person’s brain and body.

Doing so will enable the body to identify what it previously thought were bland tasting food as already salted, she explained.

City Councilor Mary Joselle Villafuerte, chairn of the committee on health, said that cases of congenital kidney diseases account for 10 percent of the whole lot; the rest of the causes of kidney problems root from diabetes.

Villafuerte also said that excessive salt intake causes hypertension which, if prolonged, may lead to kidney diseases.

She said that the city council is looking into crafting an ordinance or a resolution to cover this health issue.

Her advice for the public to keep kidney diseases at bay is to drink plenty of water especially after taking in salty food, a household staple in homes and school these days.

Villafuerte, however, admitted the city cannot control the selling of “junk food”, and can only encourage people to make conscious decisions to eat healthier food and increase their awareness of kidney diseases and the causes of these.

She also recommended that people consult a doctor before taking in food supplements because these could also affect the kidney.

Bad-ang said the signs of kidney diseases can be subtle, and the best way to find out is to see a doctor and to have blood and urine tests.

She said people aged 60 to 70 were the most vulnerable to kidney diseases. But she noted that now people in their 40s have become susceptible too.

According to the DOH, for every one million Filipinos, there are 120 who are suffering from end stage renal diseases.

As of 2013, the latest available data from the department, there were 23,364 persons on dialysis, a form of treatment that replicates functions of the kidneys when they fail. During the same year, 14,395 new cases were recorded.

In Davao City, there were over 800 patients going through dialysis; there were only 20 who had transplants done.

The good news for patients is that advancements in medical technology have increased the survival rate of those who undergo dialysis.

When patients go through dialysis for a year, their survival rate is 81 percent. In the 1990s the survival rate was only 53 percent.

Patients who go through kidney transplants have a 90-percent survival rate and those who regularly go through dialysis 83 percent.

Bad-ang said PhilHealth has packages that cover kidney treatments and transplants that amount up to P600,000.

Kidney diseases are often caused by conditions that put strain on the kidneys, including high blood pressure (hypertension) and diabetes.

By virtue of Proclamation No. 184 dated May 31, 1993, every month of June is being observed as National Kidney Month.

The document says “about 6,000 deaths occur every year nationwide due to serious kidney ailments,” and that there is a need to “instill consciousness and increase public awareness of the fatal consequences of renal diseases.” (Jesse Pizarro Boga/MindaNews)