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Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers was named Director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)–one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)–on April 1, 2007.

He had served as NIDDK’s Acting Director since March 2006 and had been the Institute’s Deputy Director since January 2001. As the Director of NIDDK, Dr. Rodgers provides scientific leadership and manages a staff of over 600 employees and a budget of $2.0 billion.

Dr. Rodgers received his undergraduate, graduate, and medical degrees from Brown University in Providence, R.I. He performed his residency and chief residency in internal medicine at Barnes Hospital and the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

In addition to his medical and research training, he earned an MBA, with a focus on the business of medicine/science, from Johns Hopkins University in 2005.

As a research investigator, Dr. Rodgers is widely recognized for his contributions to the development of the first effective — and now FDA approved — therapy for sickle-cell anemia. . He has been honored for his research with numerous awards including the 1998 Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award, the 2000 Arthur S. Flemming Award, the Legacy of Leadership Award in 2002, and a Mastership from the American College of Physicians in 2005.

Dr. Rodgers has been an invited professor at medical schools and hospitals both nationally and internationally. He has been honored with many named lectureships at American medical centers and has published over 200 original research articles, reviews, and book chapters, has edited four books and monographs, and holds 3 patents.

Diabetes and high blood pressure are the most common causes of kidney disease. People with early kidney disease usually have no symptoms. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) encourages people with diabetes or high blood pressure—particularly African Americans, who are at higher risk for these conditions—to get tested for kidney disease and talk about kidney health with their families and faith communities.

NIDDK tries to reach African Americans where they live and worship through its Kidney Sundays events during the month of March, as well as through its Family Reunion Health Guide.

 These steps, often done to manage high blood pressure or diabetes, also help protect the kidneys:

  • Take medications as prescribed.
  • Aim for a healthy weight.
  • Eat right.
  • Make physical activity a priority.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Quit smoking.

Also, though not as common as diabetes or hypertension, lupus is more common among African Americans and can cause a type of kidney disease known as lupus nephritis. This year, the NIDDK and the nursing sorority, Chi Eta Phi, are partnering with the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, to draw attention to lupus and its effects on the kidneys.

 Learn more on NIDDK’s website, and follow NIDDK on Twitter and Facebook to get updates on kidney disease, diabetes, and more.

Dr. Rodgers answers your kidney questions below:

What are healthy foods for kidneys?

Choose and prepare foods that contain less salt and sodium, and eat the right amount and the right types of protein. Also, choose heart healthy foods to help keep fat from building up in your kidneys, heart and blood vessels. Learn more about eating right for kidney health on our website.

I have one kidney – will it make gout flare up more often?

With decreased kidney function, you may have increased risk of gout attacks.

What are the health benefits of drinking raw organic apple cider vinegar and water and how often should I drink it?

I am not aware of any evidence that this has preventive health benefits.

Is drinking Gatorade good for you?

In most circumstances, water is best.

Is it 1.5 or .5 of function of your kidney compromised before you know you have kidney disease?

Many people will have no symptoms until they’ve lost more than three quarters of kidney function.

Any herbs healthy for the kidneys?

I am not aware of scientific evidence that this has preventive benefits for the kidneys.

What about those carbonated waters that claim to have 0 calories, 0 sugar. Are those good or bad for the kidneys?

Water is best.

Is cranberry juice good for the kidneys?

For healthy people, there is no proven preventive benefit for the kidneys.

I was diagnosed with end stage renal disease and subsequently have had two kidney transplants. The last in 2009. It’s working fine. The question is do I still have end stage renal disease or have I been cured?

I’m glad to hear you’re doing well after your transplant. End-stage renal disease (ESRD) includes people treated with dialysis or kidney transplants, so you still have ESRD.

What percentages of sodium are no good for you?

Limit your sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.

Good morning, doc! I’m here in Florida and during the summer I drink a lot of Gatorade but when I sweat and the sweat dries, it leaves a white crusty salt ring. Does that mean Gatorade is not good for me? And I never use salt on my food.

Sweat includes water and salt. The water evaporates, and it leaves salt behind. Be careful to monitor your calorie intake if you drink a lot of Gatorade.

Have their been studies conducted on the life span of African-Americans who have been diagnosed with kidney failure? After both kidneys fail, what is a person’s life expectancy?

African-Americans on dialysis have better survival. However, survival for any person depends on a number of factors, including age and if he or she has diabetes.

Can certain medicines cause kidney problems or being on them to long?

The most commonly-used medications that can have a negative effect on the kidneys are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including over-the-counter medicines such as naproxen and ibuprofen. For more information, please watch this NIDDK video.

I am allergic to aspartame and recently suffered a hospital stay due to aspartame in my cough medicine. I had been taking the medicine since December of last year. Now they say I’m borderline diabetic. What can I do?

I’m sorry to hear about your recent health issues. Try looking for artificial sweeteners that contain sucralose or stevia.

 As a result of surviving Legionnaire’s disease, my kidneys are monitored every six months- can l still drink sweet tea (already dropped root beer), and what about drinking more Arnold Palmer’s?

These types of drinks are not dangerous for the kidneys, but be aware of the amount of sugar they contain.

 After all these years, I’ve been taking the same blood pressure meds, until I changed doctors due to my insurance. With my new doctor, after just six weeks, I found out that my B/P was higher than ever before. I do have a very stressful job that may be contributing to the feeling that I’m experiencing. I’ve notice that my ankles are swelling. Can kidney disease be reversed?

The swelling of ankles or legs is most often due to heart or kidney issues. I encourage you to talk to your doctor to discuss this.

A natural way to take care of your kidneys and liver is with the herb milk thistle. It heals and protects the kidney and the liver.

I’m not aware of any scientific evidence that this is helpful for the kidneys.

For more on preventing kidney disease from Dr. Rodgers, click HERE.

PHOTO: Courtesy

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