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The Ultimate Guide to Preventing Kidney Disease Naturally After 50

May 10, 2023

Learning to prevent kidney disease is vital. This is because early kidney disease is often silent.

Black lady smiling at the camera

Many people with chronic kidney disease could have done something in their 20s or 30s, or even 40s to prevent the complications of kidney disease.

In this post, we explore how the kidneys work, the causes of kidney disease – and how to reduce your risks of kidney disease. Or you can watch the video version.

Why do some people develop Kidney Disease?

Certain ethnic groups have a higher risk of kidney disease compared to others. For example, African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and Native Americans have a higher risk of kidney disease than Caucasians. 

Similarly, in Africa, certain populations have a higher prevalence of kidney disease, such as those living in rural areas with limited access to healthcare.

The reasons for these ethnic differences in kidney disease risk are not fully understood. 

Still, they may be related to genetic, environmental, and social factors. 

For example, African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos are more likely to have high blood pressure and Diabetes. Both of these conditions are major risk factors for kidney disease.

However, while certain ethnic groups may be at higher risk for kidney disease, anyone can develop kidney disease regardless of their ethnicity. 

In addition, risk factors such as high blood pressure, Diabetes, smoking, and a family history of kidney disease can increase the risk for kidney disease in all populations.

Lady bent over in pain

What are the Kidneys – what do they do?

The kidneys are 2 bean-shaped organs that are located in the lower back.

Their main job is to filter out waste from the body through the blood.

They also help to maintain blood pressure and the right amount of electrolytes or salt in the blood. In addition, they are involved in producing red blood cells, making vitamin D and some hormones that help the body function.

If the kidneys are not filtering properly, a person has kidney disease.

This function or activity of the kidneys can happen over a short period. For example, if someone develops severe diarrhoea and vomiting, the function of the kidneys can be affected. Or if they take a medicine that is harmful to the kidney.

This is acute kidney disease or acute kidney injury. Or it may develop over a more extended period. When this is over 3 months, we say the person has Chronic kidney disease(CKD).

Many things cause Kidney Disease – here’s a long list

CKD can be caused by the following: The top causes are Diabetes and high blood pressure.

  • High blood pressure – over time, this can strain the small blood vessels in the kidneys and stop the kidneys from working correctly.
  • Diabetes – too much glucose in your blood can damage the tiny filters in the kidneys. In Diabetes, the body is unresponsive or less responsive to the hormone insulin, so certain metabolic processes can’t or don’t happen effectively.
  • High cholesterol can cause a build-up of fatty deposits in the blood vessels supplying your kidneys, making it harder for them to work correctly.
  • kidney infections
  • glomerulonephritis – kidney inflammation
  • Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease – an inherited condition where growths called cysts develop in the kidneys
  • Blockages in the flow of urine – for example, from kidney stones that keep coming back, or an enlarged prostate
  • long-term, regular use of certain medicines – such as lithium and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Lady in black gym wear doing exercise

What are some ‘early’ signs of Kidney Disease?

1. Leg, ankle, and foot swelling. Failure of the kidneys leads to retention of salts like sodium, which forces water to be retained in the tissues. They also leak proteins from the body, which relates to fluid retention.

2. Your body produces more or less urine than usual. For example, if the kidneys fail, they may produce lots of dilute urine, leading to frequent trips to the toilet. On the other hand, the kidneys may not make as much urine as the disease progresses.

3. Something else related to the urine is producing very foamy urine. If you usually do not look in the bowl after doing a poo or wee, please start paying attention. If your urine seems extremely frothy, soapy, or bubbly when peeing, this may be a sign of kidney disease. 

4. Fatigue – excessive tiredness may be a feature of kidney disease. It can result from anaemia, sluggish blood flow, blood pressure problems and accumulation of toxins.

5. Face swelling/puffy eyes. In kidney disease, your body loses proteins since the kidneys aren’t working well. Proteins help to maintain the barrier/structure of your blood vessels. When they are absent, fluid leaks out of them and causes swelling in the eyes and face. Waking up with puffy eyes and face swelling frequently should make you contact the Dr. 

6. Nausea and Vomiting. Many people associate this with a sickness bug or eating something bad. For example, you may get nauseous during pregnancy or after taking some medicines. So yes, it is a fairly common symptom. However, it can also happen in kidney disease – because the body cannot get rid of toxic waste materials. 

7. Unusual taste in the mouth. Some people may experience a persistent odd metallic taste. It should be checked out because accumulations of toxins from Kidney disease may contribute to this development. In addition, this may be associated with low appetite and weight loss.

8. High Blood Pressure. This is both a cause and a result of Kidney disease. So it’s essential to keep track of blood pressure readings – make it a regular habit either with a home bp monitor or check it at the clinic. High BP is also one condition that shows no symptoms at the early stages. But the kidneys are responsible in many ways for regulating the BP, so when the kidneys are not working properly, high blood pressure is one of the effects. 

9. Easy bleeding/bruising is when simple or ordinary bumps cause bleeding or bruising. For example, kidney disease may affect blood levels of your platelets – these are the blood cells responsible for making blood clots after a cut or wound. From the toxins affecting these platelets, they stop working correctly, causing easy bleeding.

10. Itchy skin. You may develop itchy skin all over the body due to the toxin’s effect from kidney disease – a lot of salts collect in the body and can lead to very bad itching – it may happen later in the condition.

Other symptoms can occur, like blood in urine, shortness of breath, etc. 

Puff-puff, a deep fried. sweet Nigerian snack
Puff-puff, a sweet deep fried Nigerian snack

Essential Tips to Protect Your Kidneys

So, here are nine essential tips for both men and women to prevent kidney disease after 50 years of age:

  1. Maintain a healthy and balanced diet: Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low in sodium, saturated fats, and sugar can help protect the kidneys. This means you can help prevent kidney disease or even delay complications if it already exists. LET’S TALK ABOUT FOOD – BELOW.
  2. Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help flush out toxins from the body and keep the kidneys functioning properly. The UK government recommends drinking 6 to 8 glasses every day. This is in addition to the fluid you get from your food. Avoiding dehydration means you drink more during warm weather, exercise, and look at your urine to be sure it’s a light golden yellow colour. 
  3. Quit smoking: Smoking can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys and increase the risk of kidney disease.
  4. Control high blood pressure: High blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys and increase the risk of kidney disease. It’s essential to monitor blood pressure regularly and take steps to control it if it’s high.
  5. Manage Diabetes: Diabetes is a leading cause of kidney disease, so it’s important to manage blood sugar levels and take steps to prevent complications.
  6. Regular exercise can help control blood pressure, maintain a healthy weight, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases that can damage the kidneys.
  7. Limit alcohol consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption can damage the kidneys and increase the risk of kidney disease.
  8. Avoid over-the-counter medications: Certain over-the-counter medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can damage the kidneys, especially if taken regularly over a long period.
  9. Get regular kidney function tests: Regular kidney function tests can help detect kidney disease early when it’s most treatable. Talk to your healthcare provider about getting tested regularly.

Remember, taking care of your kidneys is important to overall health, especially as you age. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have concerns or questions about preventing kidney disease.

lady with red painted nails holding a glass of alcohol and a cigarette

What types of food contribute to Kidney Disease?

Black people of African/Afro-Caribbean origin have a greater risk of kidney disease compared to Caucasians. This may have something to do with genetics, environment and lifestyle factors.

Some of these can be addressed, such as lifestyle choices, including our diet.

Here are certain foods and drinks (are not exclusive to blacks) that, when consumed excessively or inappropriately, can contribute to the development of kidney disease. 

  1. Excessive salt: Consuming too much salt, often found in Nigerian dishes, can lead to high blood pressure and kidney damage. Limiting salt intake and using alternative seasonings like herbs and spices are essential.
  2. Processed foods: Processed foods, such as instant noodles, canned foods, and snacks, are often high in salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats, contributing to kidney disease.
  3. Fried foods: Consuming a lot of fried foods, such as puff-puff, akara, and fried rice, can lead to the accumulation of harmful fats in the body, contributing to kidney disease.
  4. Palm oil: Palm oil, often used in Nigerian cooking, is high in saturated fats and can contribute to developing high cholesterol and kidney disease.
  5. Soft drinks: Consuming a lot of sugary drinks, such as soft drinks and energy drinks, can contribute to the development of kidney disease.
  6. Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to dehydration and kidney damage, contributing to kidney disease.

Some Local Nigerian Herbs that Affect the Kidneys

Herb and Local SourceUse and Potential Complication
Ejinrin, YorubaUsed as herbs and sponge.
Yorubas believe it’s medicinal for treating malaria, skin problems and diarrhoea.
Uyayak, IbibioIt’s a brownish plantain-like dry leaf used as spice to make food, pepper soup and its medicinal for stomach cramps.
Onugbu, IboOnugbu refers to a bitter leaf used to make a popular bitter leaf soup and used as a herb to treat fever, malaria, dysentery, diarrhoea, and cough as well as used to reduce sugar levels and repair the pancreas and kidney. Inappropriate use may lead to kidney failure.
  Abeere, Yoruba 

A seed-like herb like melon seed, is used to cure a wide range of health problems, including low sexual libido.

When soaked in coconut milk, it serves as an effective aphrodisiac.
It also serves as an anti-inflammatory medicine, boosts the immune system, stomach problems and snake bites. Excessive use can lead to Kidney failure.


 Goat weed, Imi-esu, Yoruba
This traditional medicine treats low sexual libido, pain, erectile dysfunction, osteoporosis and other enzyme and sexual-related problems. 

It is possible to use these herbs appropriately. But, still, often, we need regulations that ensure that the traditional practitioners are using them or showing people how to use them properly, which is when problems arise. 

Suya, a spicy grilled beef snack common in Nigeria
Suya, a spicy grilled beef dish from Nigeria

Common Misconceptions about Kidney Disease

There are several common misconceptions that people have about kidney disease. Here are some examples:

  1. Kidney disease only affects older people: While it is true that the risk of kidney disease increases with age, anyone can develop kidney disease, regardless of their age.
  2. Kidney disease is not a serious health concern: Kidney disease is a serious health concern that can lead to significant complications if left untreated. It can also increase the risk of other health problems, such as cardiovascular disease.
  3. Only people with a family history of kidney disease are at risk: While having a family history of kidney disease can increase your risk, anyone can develop kidney disease. Risk factors include high blood pressure, Diabetes, obesity, smoking, and a history of kidney infections.
  4. Kidney disease is always accompanied by symptoms: Early stages of kidney disease may not cause any symptoms, making it important to get regular checkups and monitor kidney function.
  5. Dialysis or kidney transplant is the only treatment for kidney disease: While dialysis or kidney transplant may be necessary in advanced stages of kidney disease, early detection and treatment can help to slow or prevent the progression of the disease.
  6. Drinking large amounts of water can prevent kidney disease: While staying hydrated is important for kidney health, drinking excessive amounts of water can strain the kidneys and lead to hyponatremia (low blood sodium). Moderation is key.

It’s important to understand the facts about kidney disease and to take steps to protect kidney health, such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle, managing chronic health conditions, and getting regular check-ups with a healthcare provider.

What about Misconceptions in African populations?

African populations may have additional misconceptions or cultural beliefs about kidney disease. Here are some examples:

  1. Belief in traditional medicine: Traditional medicine is often used in African communities to treat various ailments, including kidney disease. However, some traditional remedies may be harmful to the kidneys, and it’s important to seek medical advice and use traditional medicine in moderation.
  2. Belief in the supernatural: In some African cultures, kidney disease may be attributed to supernatural causes, such as witchcraft or curses. This can lead to delayed medical treatment or reliance on spiritual healers rather than seeking medical advice.
  3. The stigma surrounding kidney disease: In some African communities, there may be a stigma attached to kidney disease, with some people viewing it as a sign of weakness or a punishment for wrongdoing. This can lead to delayed medical treatment or reluctance to discuss the disease with family or friends.
  4. Lack of knowledge about risk factors: In some African communities, there may be a lack of knowledge about the risk factors for kidney disease, such as high blood pressure, Diabetes, and smoking. This can lead to a higher prevalence of kidney disease in these populations.

It’s important to address these misconceptions and cultural beliefs about kidney disease through education and awareness-raising campaigns. Healthcare providers and community leaders can play an important role in educating people about the importance of kidney health, the risk factors for kidney disease, and the importance of early detection and treatment.

Now you have an overview of steps you can take to reduce the risk of Kidney Disease. Let us know if you have any questions on how to improve your kidney health.

More Reading

Editing By AskAwayHealth


All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising  Medical Practitioners on a wide range of healthcare conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality healthcare. The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified healthcare practitioner.
To discuss your condition, please contact a health practitioner or reach us directly

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