Sustaining Hawaii Episode 81: Kidney Health For All


This blog post summarizes a recent conversation from the "Sustaining Hawaii Radio Show" where Glenn Hayashida and Jenna Copley of the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii were interviewed. The discussion delved into critical issues such as kidney health, screenings for children, and the impact of food security on health. Their insights underscore the importance of early detection and proper nutrition in preventing kidney diseases and supporting the health of our community's youth.

Rick: Welcome to Sustaining Hawaii, Glenn and Jenna. Glenn, could you start by giving us an overview of the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii?

Glenn: Thanks for having us, Rick. I'm the president and CEO of the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii. We're unique in that we operate independently within the national framework, allowing us to focus directly on the needs of our local communities. It's quite rare to have a registered dietitian in our offices, and having Jenna here highlights our commitment to tailored community health strategies.

Rick: That’s a vital role indeed. Now, Glenn, what’s the prognosis of kidney health in Hawaii currently?

Glenn: Back when I started in 1995, we had about 900 people on dialysis, and the numbers were expected to double every decade. Unfortunately, it rose even faster. COVID-19 did reduce these numbers temporarily as many patients tragically passed away. However, the silver lining is that we’re now seeing a plateau. I believe it's due to our efforts in promoting kidney health awareness and the public becoming more health-conscious.

Rick: What exactly do kidneys do in our body?

Glenn: Kidneys are essentially our body’s filtration system. They filter out toxins and waste from our blood and regulate essential hormones. Most people are born with two kidneys but can survive with just one. If both kidneys fail, dialysis or a transplant becomes necessary to perform the functions a healthy kidney would handle.

Rick: Jenna, turning to you, how significant is diet in maintaining kidney health?

Jenna: Diet is crucial, Rick. Healthy kidneys depend on a balanced diet to filter waste effectively and prevent diseases. We focus a lot on helping patients manage their diets to combat or prevent chronic kidney disease, emphasizing the importance of reducing sodium, managing protein intake, and controlling blood sugar to help maintain kidney function.

Rick: Glenn, could you elaborate on the impact of lifestyle on kidney health?

Glenn: Lifestyle choices play a huge role. Factors like high blood pressure and diabetes are significant risk factors for kidney disease. By managing these through diet, exercise, and medication adherence, we can significantly impact kidney health. It’s all about prevention and early detection.

Rick: Jenna, can you share some tips for our listeners on how they can maintain a kidney-friendly diet?

Jenna: Sure. A kidney-friendly diet limits certain foods to prevent the buildup of wastes in the blood. I recommend eating fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. It’s also important to limit salt, processed foods, and high protein intake if there are existing kidney issues. Drinking plenty of water is also essential.

Rick: How does the Foundation support individuals with kidney disease?

Glenn: We offer various support services, including education on kidney health, nutrition counseling, and treatment options. We also conduct community screenings for early detection and provide resources and support groups for those affected by kidney disease.

Rick: Jenna, considering Hawaii’s unique cultural and dietary practices, how do you approach dietary guidance?

Jenna: It’s about balance and making adjustments that respect cultural preferences while promoting kidney health. We incorporate local foods and recipes into our dietary recommendations, ensuring they meet nutritional guidelines. This makes it easier for patients to adapt without feeling they are losing a part of their heritage.

Rick: Jenna, are you familiar with school meals? What the composition is, what the menu items are, and how conducive are those menus to the health of our keiki?

Jenna: School meals are crucial, especially for combating food insecurity. They are designed to be nutritious, providing students with essential components like fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins. These meals ensure that students receive at least one substantial, healthy meal per day, which is foundational in supporting their overall health and learning.

Rick: And, Jenna, what about children and screenings? Is there a certain age where screening is either suggested or required?

Jenna: Currently, our community screenings are primarily aimed at adults 18 and older. However, there's a growing concern regarding kidney health in children, especially due to increasing rates of conditions like obesity and early-onset diabetes. We're seeing a trend where pediatric nephrologists are encountering more children with kidney issues, which suggests the need for early detection and possibly implementing screenings for children in the future.

Rick: Jenna, tell us about KEDS. What does it stand for and what does it involve?

Jenna: KEDS stands for Kidney Early Detection Screening. It involves screenings that are free to the community, which are crucial for individuals who are concerned about their kidney health or do not have access to regular healthcare. These screenings help detect potential kidney issues early on, which is vital for preventing the progression of kidney disease.

Rick: What about exercise? How does that factor into kidney health?

Jenna: Exercise is beneficial for overall health and can help control conditions that affect the kidneys, like high blood pressure and diabetes. Even moderate activity, such as walking or swimming, can make a significant difference.

Rick: Glenn, what’s on the horizon for the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii?

Glenn: We're focusing on expanding our outreach programs and incorporating more advanced technologies to better manage kidney disease. We also plan to enhance our educational programs to reach a broader audience.

Rick: Jenna, any final tips for our listeners on maintaining kidney health?

Jenna: Keep regular appointments with your healthcare provider, stay hydrated, follow a balanced diet, and don’t ignore the health of your kidneys. Early detection and lifestyle changes can make a monumental difference in outcomes.

Rick: Glenn. This past Saturday was quite an event for the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii, wasn't it?

Glenn: Yes, Rick, it truly was. I want to extend a huge thank you to our community for coming out in full force to support the Kidney Walk at Kapiolani Park. We had a record number of participants—864 walkers! Along with over a hundred volunteers and many vendors and entertainers, we saw more than a thousand people gather for this cause. We also exceeded our fundraising goal, reaching over $151,000. It was an incredible day filled with purpose and energy, under perfect weather conditions.

Rick: That's fantastic to hear. And Rich, you were there too, right? Could you tell us where we can find the video you shared about the event?

Rich: Absolutely, Rick. If you go to @bayerhawaii on Facebook or Instagram, you'll find a fun little highlight video of the walk. It really captures the spirit of the morning.

Rick: Rich, what role did Bayer Hawaii play in this event?

Rich: Bayer was proud to be one of the sponsors, joining many great local companies in support. I spent some time at the Queen’s Medical Center tent because they had some fantastic dancing going on!

Rick: Jenna, I heard there was even a Zumba session?

Jenna: Yes, that’s right! We had a Zumba session, and one of our staff members, a longtime hula dancer, performed beautifully. It was a truly special performance for everyone who attended.

Rick: Glenn, I heard there was a unique mascot at the Kidney Walk. Who is Sydney the Kidney?

Glenn: Sydney the Kidney is our beloved mascot who has become a symbol of our community outreach efforts. Originally created in purple and later transformed to orange, Sydney represents the fun and friendly face of kidney health education. When Sydney appears at events, he brings joy and helps lighten the mood, making learning about kidney health engaging and memorable for all ages.

Rick: Glenn, the Kidney Walk is a major fundraiser for the foundation. What does this financial success enable you to do?

Glenn: The funds raised allow us to offer many of our programs at no cost, including the Eating Smart program, diabetes prevention, and chronic disease management programs. Unlike other forms of fundraising, this walk brings the community together, putting a face to the disease and enhancing awareness in a very public, impactful way.

Rick: For those not familiar with the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii, what questions do you most often hear at such events?

Jenna: People often ask about what we do exactly and where the funds are going. I tell them about our free community programs, including our kidney screenings and our educational workshops. Last year alone, we conducted 127 virtual programs. These funds are crucial for continuing our active involvement in the community.

Glenn: It’s also important to clarify that while we are part of a national organization, we don’t receive funding from them. All the money we raise supports local programming.

Rick: Rich, you mentioned enjoying the educational aspects of the walk. Could you expand on that?

Rich: Sure, Rick. The walk not only offered a great family outing but also provided educational tidbits along the route. There were signs with fun facts about kidneys, their function, and general health tips, which added a learning component to the walk.

Rick: Jenna, as a dietitian, what advice do you have regarding supplements and diet?

Jenna: It’s essential to be cautious with supplements. While most vitamin supplements are harmless, many others need to be chosen carefully, especially for those with kidney disease or other health conditions. It's always best to consult with a healthcare provider to ensure there's no conflict with existing medications.

Rick: With all the misinformation out there, especially on social media, how should people approach nutritional advice?

Jenna: Always vet your sources. Look for information from reputable sources, preferably registered dietitians. It’s important not to get swayed by sensational claims about foods or supplements without credible backing.

Rick: As we wrap up, Glenn, any final thoughts you'd like to share about the impact of the National Kidney Month and the recent walk?

Glenn: This month and the walk have been incredible. Seeing the community come together like this reaffirms the positive impact of our work. It’s truly rewarding, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in so many lives.

Rick: Thank you, Glenn, Jenna, and Rich, for sharing your experiences and insights. It’s clear that the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii is making significant strides in promoting kidney health and supporting the community.

Thank you for joining us in this important conversation about kidney health and community support. We hope these discussions have provided you with valuable insights into the essential work being done to fight kidney diseases and promote healthier lifestyles across Hawaii. Remember to tune into the "Sustaining Hawaii Radio Show" on AM 830, airing every first and third Wednesday of the month at 9 AM, for more updates and discussions that drive our commitment to a healthier Hawaii. For those who missed the live broadcast, you can listen to the full episode below to catch up on all the informative discussions from our latest show.

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