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Some Key Stats on the Kidney

Your kidneys are two organs, which are roughly the size of a fist, located in your lower back. They are responsible for performing a number of functions which are essential to maintaining your overall health:

  • Kidneys help regulate blood pressure with the release of hormones
  • Kidneys help control the production of red blood cells
  • Every day, the kidneys filter out waste from 200 liters of blood
  • Regulate the potassium, salt and acid content in the body
  • Removes drugs from the body
  • Balances the level of fluids within the body
  • They produce an active form of vitamin D which is essential for healthier bones

Kidney Disease Risk in the United States

  • Kidneys can be prone to disease
  • 1 out of every 3 Americans is at risk of CKD due to high blood pressure (hypertension), family history of CKD, or diabetes
  • At this point, more than 26 million people have kidney disease
  • Most are unaware that they have this disease due to a lack of symptoms during early stage
  • At this time, there are more than 95,000 people in need of a kidney transplant
  • Over 590,000 Americans have experienced kidney failure

What Can You Do During this Month?

Organizations like the National Kidney Foundation, the American Kidney Fund, and others are offering a number of activities to help promote better kidney health and awareness of CKD risk factors. If you are looking to get involved this month, you should consider:

  • Free Kidney Screenings: If you have diabetes, hypertension, or a family history of kidney disease, then you can get a free kidney screening throughout the month of March. Find locations on the NKF website.
  • Free kidney health tracker available at the American Kidney Fund website
  • Give a gift to the American Kidney Fund in honor of someone special in your life. Learn more at:
  • NKF’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joseph Vassalotti, is hosting an interactive kidney Q&A session on twitter during World Kidney Day (the 14th) from 12-2 pm.
  • You can sign up for the AKF Advocacy Network and help spread awareness of kidney disease in your local community. Learn more at:
  • Can put a “Fight Kidney Disease” support ribbon on your car.
  • Become part of the Pair Up campaign, which you can learn more about at:
  • It’s still not too late to take the 31-day PKD challenge.
  • Learn how to eat better in order to promote healthier kidneys by asking a certified dietician. Melissa Altman-Traub, MS, RD, CSR, LDN, will be answering people’s questions all throughout the month.
  • The Kidney Trust also offers free rapid screening for chronic kidney disease.

The Importance of Early Detection and Screening

Since there are usually no symptoms associated with early stage kidney disease, laboratory tests and screening are essential. During one of these screenings, lab techs will take some blood to have it tested for creatinine, a waste product. If the levels of creatinine are high, then this would be a signal of abnormal kidney function. This test will also allow technicians to calculate the glomerular filtration rate (GFR), an indication of the current stage of CKD. Taken together, these results can provide an overall evaluation of the patient’s kidney function.

  • In most cases, no symptoms of kidney disease
  • Screening essential for early detection of CKD
  • Blood is tested for creatinine levels
  • High level of creatinine indication of abnormal kidney function
  • Lab technicians also able to calculate the glomerular filtration rate (GFR), to determine stage of CKD
  • Age, gender, ethnicity, and creatinine level are factored into GFR
  • Obtain an overall evaluation of current kidney function from a kidney screening

What Can You Do if You Have CKD?

  • Kidney failure can be prevented through early detection and effective treatment of underlying diseases (diabetes and hypertension)
  • Delay progression of kidney disease through healthier lifestyle adjustments, including:
    • Adhering to a diet that gets you the appropriate levels of protein, fluid, and sodium
    • Getting regular exercise
    • Drinking more water in order to avoid dehydration

Foods that can Promote Kidney Health

Some great foods to include in your kidney-friendly diet:

  • Red Bell Peppers
  • Cabbage
  • Garlic
  • Cauliflower
  • Apples
  • Onions
  • Blueberries
  • Cranberries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Fish
  • Egg whites
  • Red Grapes
  • Olive Oil

If you are considering dialysis, then there are physician teams which can work with you to develop a personalized treatment routine.


What Is Hemodialysis?

  • This is a form of renal replacement therapy ( a treatment which fills in for failed kidneys)
  • Hemodialysis will filter out bodily waste
  • This procedure removes excess fluids
  • Can balance electrolyte levels (including bicarbonate, calcium, potassium, chloride, phosphate, magnesium)
  • Blood is removed from patient’s body and filtered through a dialyzer (a man-made membrane also referred to as an artificial kidney), then returned to the patient’s body
  • Three access points used for Hemodialysis:
    • AV Graft
    • Arteriovenous (AV) fistula (most recommended by the dialysis community)
    • Central Venous Catheter







Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States and the second leading cause of death from cancer. Colorectal cancer affects people in all racial and ethnic groups and is most often found in people age 50 and older.

The good news? If everyone age 50 and older were screened regularly, 6 out of 10 deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented. Communities, health professionals, and families can work together to encourage people to get screened.

How can Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month make a difference?

We can use this month to raise awareness about colorectal cancer and take action toward prevention. Communities, organizations, families, and individuals can get involved and spread the word.

Here are just a few ideas:

  • Encourage families to get active together – exercise may help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
  • Talk to family, friends, and people in your community about the importance of getting screened for colorectal cancer starting at age 50.
  • Encourage people over 50 to use this interactive tool to decide which colorectal cancer screening test they prefer.
  • Ask doctors and nurses to talk to patients age 50 and older about the importance of getting screened.





New genetic evidence could strengthen the link between the role of dietary fats with colon cancer progression.

Because this cancer occurs in the digestive tract, scientists have often considered important links to diet. Now new evidence verifies a connection to dietary fats, such as those found in processed meats, butter, beef and pork fat, shortening, and margarine. Dr. Raymond DuBois, of Arizona State University, has identified a molecule, called peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor delta (PPAR delta), which, when deleted in mice with colon cancer, stopped the progression of tumor growth.
The study was published in the April 21 early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The DuBois research team has been in pursuit of uncovering the links between inflammation and colon cancer for the past two decades. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S.

Diet and cancer
Known risks for colorectal cancers — tumors affecting the colon and the rectum are commonly grouped together as they affect the digestive tract — include family history, inflammatory bowel disease, smoking, and type 2 diabetes.
Foods high in saturated fats may also increase risk and so general advice to help you avoid colorectal cancer is to focus on your diet. Recent, large studies, for instance, suggest that fiber, especially from whole grains, may lower colorectal cancer risk. Doctors also recommend you limit your intake of red and processed meats, eat more vegetables and fruits, watch your weight (especially watch for gains around the midsection), avoid excessive alcohol and get recommended levels of calcium and vitamin D, which may work together to prevent these cancers.

The facts about fat

There are numerous types of fat. Your body makes its own fat from taking in excess calories. Some fats are found in foods from plants and animals and are known as dietary fat. Dietary fat is a macronutrients, along with protein and carbohydrates, that provide energy for your body. Fat is essential to your health because it supports a number of your body’s functions. Some vitamins, for instance, must have fat to dissolve and nourish your body.
But there is a dark side to fat. Fat is high in calories and small amounts can add up quickly. If you eat more calories than you need, you will gain weight. Excess weight is inked to poor health.
Research about the possible harms and benefits of dietary fat is always evolving. And a growing body of research suggests that when it comes to dietary fat, you should focus on eating healthy fats and avoiding unhealthy fats. Simply stated, fat is made up of varying amounts of fatty acids. It’s the type and amount of fatty acid found in food that determines the effect of the fat on your health.

Harmful dietary fat

There are two main types of potentially harmful dietary fat — fat that is mostly saturated and fat that contains trans fat:

  • Saturated fat. This is a type of fat that comes mainly from animal sources of food, such as red meat, poultry and full-fat dairy products. Saturated fat raises total blood cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. Saturated fat may also increase your risk of type 2 diabetes and cancer.
  • Trans fat. This is a type of fat that occurs naturally in some foods in small amounts. But most trans fats are made from oils through a food processing method called partial hydrogenation. By partially hydrogenating oils, they become easier to cook with and less likely to spoil than do naturally occurring oils. Research studies show that these partially hydrogenated trans fats can increase unhealthy LDL cholesterol and lower healthy high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. This can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Most fats that have a high percentage of saturated fat or that contain trans fat are solid at room temperature. Because of this, they’re typically referred to as solid fats. They include beef fat, pork fat, butter, shortening and stick margarine.

Healthier dietary fat

The types of potentially helpful dietary fat are mostly unsaturated:

  • Monounsaturated fat. This is a type of fat found in a variety of foods and oils. Studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. Research also shows that MUFAs may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type 2 diabetes.
  • Polyunsaturated fat.This is a type of fat found mostly in plant-based foods and oils. Evidence shows that eating foods rich in polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) improve blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. PUFAs may also help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids. One type of polyunsaturated fat is made up of mainly omega-3 fatty acids and may be especially beneficial to your heart. Omega-3, found in some types of fatty fish, appears to decrease the risk of coronary artery disease. It may also protect against irregular heartbeats and help lower blood pressure levels. There are plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. However, the body doesn’t convert it and use it as well as omega-3 from fish.

Foods made up mostly of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, such as olive oil, safflower oil, peanut oil and corn oil. Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, sardines and herring. Plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseed (ground), oils (canola, flaxseed, soybean), and nuts and other seeds (walnuts, butternuts and sunflower).

Tips for choosing foods with the best types of dietary fat

So now that you know which types of dietary fat are healthy or unhealthy, and how much to include, how do you adjust your diet to meet dietary guidelines?
First, focus on reducing foods high in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. Then emphasize food choices that include plenty of monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs). But a word of caution — don’t go overboard even on healthy fats. All fats, including the healthy ones, are high in calories. So consume MUFA-rich and PUFA-rich foods instead of other fatty foods, not in addition to them.
Here are some tips to help you make over the fat in your diet:

  • Use the Nutrition Facts label when selecting foods. Read food labels and look for the amount of trans fat listed. By law, a serving of food containing less than 0.5 grams of trans fat can be labeled as 0 grams. Therefore, it is important to also check ingredient lists for the term “partially hydrogenated.” It’s best to avoid foods that contain trans fat and those that have been partially hydrogenated.
  • Prepare fish, such as salmon and mackerel, instead of meat at least twice a week to get a source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Limit sizes to 4 ounces of cooked seafood a serving, and bake or broil seafood instead of frying.
  • Use liquid vegetable oil instead of solid fats. For example, saute with olive oil instead of butter, and use canola oil when baking.
  • Use olive oil in salad dressings and marinades.
  • Use egg substitutes instead of whole eggs when possible.
  • Select milk and dairy products that are low in fat.




Introduction to

Multiple Sclerosis Symptom Management

Symptoms - Introduction to Multiple Sclerosis Symptom Management

While MS has the potential to cause several different symptoms, the specific symptoms each person experiences vary greatly. When experiencing one or more of these symptoms, an individual should consult his or her physician. Medications are available to treat many MS symptoms. These may include over-the-counter drugs as well as prescribed medications. Diet and exercise may also be helpful with managing certain symptoms. All treatments or changes in diet or exercise should only be done under the guidance of a qualified physician.

MS symptoms are often compounded by extreme fatigue, which may be worse in the afternoon, sometimes relating to a rise in body temperature. Some symptoms may be temporarily increased by heat intolerance – a classic MS tendency, where a rise in temperature (internally or externally) causes a person to feel much worse. Keeping cool through air-conditioning or various cooling devices (such as those offered by MSAA’s Cooling Equipment Distribution Program), may be helpful for people with heat-sensitive MS.

When recovering from a symptom flare-up or learning to cope with a change in mobility, rehabilitation through physical therapy and occupational therapy can be of great value. Speech therapy, therapeutic exercise, and certain medical devices may also be useful in dealing with the symptoms of MS. Some of those who have a physically demanding or highly stressful job may choose to make a career change, in which case vocational training is helpful.

When a family member is diagnosed with MS, participating in some type of counseling program is often of benefit to everyone involved. Individuals may be affected in different ways, both physically and emotionally. Seeking professional assistance helps to ensure that MS does not disrupt one’s family and happiness.

For more information on symptom management and handling the challenges of MS, MSAA offers several helpful publications, as well as an extensive collection of MS-related books from MSAA’s Lending Library. Additionally, MSAA’s staff of qualified Helpline consultants is available to discuss a caller’s needs and questions personally. To contact MSAA, interested individuals may call (800) 532-7667, extension 154.