Letter to the Editor: Stop Kidney-ing around and take care of your health

Published 8:00 am Sunday, September 17, 2023

Dear Editor,

I normally finish most speaking engagements saying, “Nobody cares about kidneys until they fail,” and from my perspective, it’s the most accurate assessment of kidney disease.

Our kidney function serves to clean the blood, help control blood pressure, help make red blood cells and keep bones healthy. More than 37 million Americans have kidney disease and millions more are at risk but according to the CDC, nine out of 10 people with early kidney disease don’t know they have it because it usually has no symptoms until the late stages.

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Mississippi currently ranks 49th in kidney disease with more than 8,000 people currently depending on dialysis to live and another 2,000, including me, depend on a kidney transplant to survive.

According to the American Kidney Fund, the three leading causes of kidney failure are diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, and Mississippi currently ranks near the bottom in all three categories. Kidney disease is the ninth leading cause of death in the United States and symptoms of kidney failure are foam in your urine, fatigue, high blood pressure, loss of appetite, insufficient urine production, itching and severe unintentional weight loss.

Despite the health care deficiencies that Mississippi has, the lack of knowledge of poor diets and lack of exercise have on our bodies are what become often overlooked. Foods that people can eat to help their renal diet includes cabbage, cauliflower, apples, blueberries, salmon, egg whites and cranberry juice. Coincidentally, some foods that are not great for kidney failure might be surprising to the average reader. Leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, beans, bananas and whole grains are not recommended due to high sodium, potassium and phosphorous content.

Exercising for 30 minutes per day will lower the risk of kidney disease as well as drinking as much water as possible.

The Mississippi Kidney Foundation strives to not only educate Mississippians about kidney failure prevention but also help current patients on dialysis. We financially support patients from all over the state with transportation and nutrition assistance. Our upcoming Kidney Kick-Off will feature the Michael Rubenstein Memorial 5K Kidney Walk, a health and wellness fair, and a family picnic to raise funds for the Mississippi Kidney Foundation.

Although this event is targeted at kidney patients and their families, we greatly appreciate any community participation. Our Kidney Walk will be held on Saturday, Oct. 21 at Tougaloo College from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Registration for the walk can be found at kidneyms.org.


T.J. Mayfield

Vicksburg, Miss.