I am a good cook. At least that is what I tell myself every day before I go to bed. In fact, if you wanted me to fall asleep quickly, remind me how excellent my culinary skills are. I know this sounds like something a horrible cook would say but horrible is not a word I love.

The intention, as I set out to this artistic mission of cooking, is always right. I have my ingredients figured out and my appetite just right. What I conjure up later is always a mystery. My final cuisine taste like Kenyan rainfall in December. What I was to cook this holiday season is good old Chapattis. What I served everyone was something that you could comfortably rekindle a fire with. Crackling dry and impossibly hard.

Forget about ingredients and lectures on how to make the dough. I do all that and just like the main course, my Chapattis always disappoint.

For most Kenyan homes, holidays are tantamount to chapatti, pilau and nyam chom (grilled goat meat) with a crate or two of beer to drown in. It is a tradition passed down from generations. We can’t escape it. Chapatti do get cooked at any other day of the year but it is never really Christmas if you haven’t rolled and unrolled dough and flattened it into different shapes of the African map.

This diet has helped many have sizzling New Year resolutions of losing weight which rightfully belong where they should be–on paper. Friends argue that weight is a state of the mind just like poverty. I differ because I have touched those two things. Obesity and Poverty. Perhaps not in that order but I can tell you they are not in anyone’s mind. They are as real as inflated power bills and disconnected water supply.

Being overweight is a blow to your kidneys. They suffer when elevated cholesterol and blood pressure if not Diabetes Mellitus kick in. We have established that high blood pressure and Diabetes are the two leading causes of chronic kidney disease. If we can do something to run away from these two then we sure should do it and do it now.

Poor dietary intake like I have highlighted will not only give you rumors of New Year’s resolutions but add more wastes to your body for your kidneys. Let me explain.

Red meat must be broken down into proteins whose by product is urea. You are overwhelming the kidneys by increasing the amount of waste without increasing the filtration rate. More to that, alcohol causes you to pass urine more times and this will dehydrate your body. Some may tell me that that in itself is a balance because the more you urinate the more you are filtering the waste. If you are in this WhatsApp group raise your hand up…

Thank you for your honesty class. You are wrong. Now put your hands down.

Alcohol pulls out the water you already have in your body into the nephron tubules hence making you urinate more. It is a case of drawing water from the bloodstream into urine. This explains your morning hangovers to a great extent. What you pass at those urinals will not be well made urine (with all the wastes we have outlined before) but the largest percentage shall be water.

Less water in the bloodstream means we will have less blood (both volume and rate) circulating within the kidney tissues causing low blood pressure within the kidneys which will initiate the process of raising the blood pressure. Are you then surprised why some people must have headaches during or after a drinking spree?

What then is the solution since we must eat and celebrate and drink and have irresponsible sex and such other things? Thank you for asking.

Value the company more than the food. Eat, not to finish but to be full. I must vehemently condemn the conspiracy of all Kenyan mums. You feed us as if the Armageddon is nigh. You create small hills and mountains on the plate and if we decline you get offended. This has been so since eons ago. Please desist from these guilt-evoking love acts. Food served on a plate must not be overwhelming. Let us enjoy the first helping and if we want more we can always get a second helping. After all, we eat that heap of food to finish it and not offend your darling feelings. Please resist this strategy. Ha ha.

Talking about food, potatoes are very high in their glycemic index. Especially because we rarely bake them. Baking does reduce the glycemic index but I am not a Nutritionist now, right? *wink*

That means we can eat them, not as part of stew but part of the main meal. Central Province, am I telling you something? Yes I am smiling…

We have learnt to joke about adding potatoes in everything we cook but the truth should be told with the scathing nakedness it deserves. You can comfortably eat your starch without adding potatoes in them. I mean, do not serve chapos or pilau with a stew of potatoes. Both are starch and will contribute to weight gain. I need an emoji here…

Potatoes with garden peas and highlights of meat (red or white) is a meal by itself. Yes highlights ha ha. Stop calling it a stew with which to serve rice or chapatti.STOP.IT.Thank you. That explains the high cases of lifestyle diseases in Central Kenya and the Coast region. Coast shida yenu ni sukari. You people add sugar to everything!

This should not mean that thin folks are safe. I am concerned about our diet whether thin as rail or thick as the train that passes on it. Desist from horrible diets. Value the company, the laughs, the sharing, more than the heaps upon heaps of food you will eat this festive season.

Protect your kidneys for me if you won’t do it for you.

When you go out drinking, have some water and drink it. I had three Zambian classmates pale School of Nephrology Nursing. When we went out, I noted with astonishment something that not any of us Kenyans had. They drunk gallons of water before we touched any alcohol. I managed to ask one of them why. She replied with the very simple physiology we were learning in class but were too daft to apply it to ourselves. Drink water to cater for the resultant dehydration.

Miguel is a Rotarian friend who has globe-trotted because of his work. He told me in all his wine tasting years, it is only in Kenya where we serve beer at room temperature (pombe moto…very funny) and drink like the alcohol hurt us. My concern is not your fun but your kidneys. Those two organs must remain in top form if we can.

Excessive alcohol damages the liver. We all know this. What they did not tell you is that a damaged liver affects the kidneys and causes what we call a hepatorenal syndrome. Not once or twice have we have to start permanent dialysis on a young man whose alcohol overpowered his kidneys.

Friends, we have very few renal units in Kenya. Furthermore sustaining one is expensive to the family. Adequate dialysis should be thrice a week but we only manage twice a week. The number of patients on the waiting list keep growing in exponential proportions. #TeamPhoenix, if I can have one freer machine, then I can use it on a dire case.

As I talked about alcohol at the Rotary Club of Hurligham sometimes in June this year, I remember mentioning that it is wise to have a salty snack if you must waste yourself at the brewery. Salt retains water and will, though to a very small degree, pull some water from the tubules back into the bloodstream. However, I ask, how much salt would you need to lick for every bottle of Tusker or Guinness? Hehehe…

Protect your kidneys this festive season because I asked you to.

As always, thank you for coming.

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