March is National Kidney month, and in the spirit of awareness and education on kidney disease, The Iya Project is taking a step further to encourage you to protect your kidneys and so prevent kidney damage and eventual kidney failure. In this article, you’ll learn how to protect your kidneys using 8 simple tips that will help you clean your diet by taking inventory of your pantry and refrigerator.
 1)     Commit to Whole Grains – Stay Away From Refined Products: Whether it’s in bread, cereal, rice, or pasta, whole grains are a good source of fiber and can be found in most grocery stores. Fibers can reduce cholesterol and may also lower your risk for heart disease. Whole grains have the tendency to make you feel full with fewer calories which can therefore also help with weight control. Examples of whole grain products include wheat bread and pasta, brown rice, steel cut oats, and bran flake cereal. Avoid refined grain products.
2)     No Salt Canned Foods: Reducing salt in your diet can help prevent or control high blood pressure and so further reduce your risk of kidney disease. Therefore, when buying canned foods make sure to read the labels for the ‘no salt added’ or ‘low sodium’ varieties of your canned products.
3)     Buy Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: Preferably and whenever possible, buy fresh fruits and vegetables instead of canned foods. Processed foods contain higher levels of sodium (salt) and phosphorous which can be bad for your kidneys if consumed in excess. However, if you have to buy canned fruits/vegetables, choose those with their own juices instead of those in heavy syrup as heavy syrup can raise your blood sugar levels (diabetes is the number one leading cause of kidney failure). Always read your labels and avoid foods that contain ‘phos’ as an ingredient.
4)     Use Spices for Flavor Instead of Salt and Fats: Rather than using salt and fats to add flavor in your meals, use spices and herbs to add flavor. High salt and fat diets can increase your blood pressure and cholesterol. Avoid or minimize salt and fats in your meals.
5)     Eat Lean – Avoid Red Meats: Limit or replace red meats with leaner, lower fat protein choices such as fish, poultry (chicken, turkey, fowl), egg whites, and legumes. Avoid processed meats like ham, hot dogs, sausage, and bacon.
6)     Avoid Processed Sweets: Instead of having processed sweets which can be high in sugar, sodium, carbohydrates and calories, opt for fruits as snacks or desserts. A fruit salad is a great way to consume a variety of nutrients, or a fruit parfait with low fat yogurt.
7)     Avoid Saturated Fats: Replace butter and margarine in your meals with olive or canola oils which are liquid plant oils that are rich heart-healthy unsaturated fats which may lower cholesterol and also ‘possibly benefit blood sugar levels’.
8)     Limit Dairy Fat: Although dairy products provide many important nutrients that are good for you, they can be high in saturated fats and cholesterol. Substitute varieties of milk, cheese, and yogurts hat are high in fat for fat free or lower fat varieties. Substituting with lower varieties can help keep your cholesterol levels healthy.
 With your support, The Iya Foundation, Inc is confident a feasible early detection, surveillance and treatment program can be established to slow, and possibly prevent the progression of kidney disease in the U.S, and particularly in the African Immigrant Community in the U.S.
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