Keep Your Kidneys Healthy with These 4 Tips
In the United States, 33 percent of adults are at risk for kidney disease. Kidney disease is a serious public health concern. Kidney disease is often undetected until it is very advanced. Unfortunately, this is the point at which someone will need dialysis or a transplant. According to the National Kidney Foundation, only 10% of people with chronic kidney disease are diagnosed. It can cause serious health problems if left unchecked.
March is National Kidney Month, so now is a good time to learn more about kidney disease and how to keep your kidneys in good health.
What is the Function of the Kidneys?
Each person is born with two kidneys, one on each side of their spine. These organs act as filters, removing waste and toxic substances from the body, such as drugs or chemicals. They also return essentials to the bloodstream, such as vitamins, glucose, hormones, and amino acids, ensuring a healthy balance of water and minerals.
What is Kidney Disease?
Kidney disease alters the way these organs work, reducing their ability to cleanse the blood and filter out excess water. This, in turn, will result in problems such as fluctuating blood pressure, anemia, and a buildup of wastes and fluids in the body. It can also cause other health issues such as weak bones, nerve damage, and malnutrition.
A variety of factors may contribute to kidney disease. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic conditions, such as auto-immune disorders like lupus, put people at a higher risk. Traumatic injuries resulting in blood loss, long-term dehydration, birth defects, and long-term use of some drugs and medications can all have an effect on the kidneys.
If kidney disease is not detected, the organs may cease to function entirely. As a result, dialysis may be needed in the future to assist the kidneys in functioning properly. While dialysis cannot cure the disease, it can extend the patient’s life. If dialysis is no longer effective, a kidney transplant is the next step.
How you Can Keep your Kidneys Healthy
- Keep yourself hydrated- Water transports nutrients to your kidneys and waste to your bladder in the form of urine. A healthy person should consume 8 cups or 2 liters (approx.) of water per day. Consult your doctor about the adequate fluid intake given your medical history, age, and activity levels if you have extreme climatic or body conditions (such as heart or lung disease).
- Maintain a balanced diet- When you eat, your kidneys break down all the food you consume. Foods that are bad for your kidneys include things like a lot of fat, a lot of dairy, a lot of salt, and a lot of sugar. A poor diet can lead to high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and other conditions that have a negative impact on your kidneys over time. Fiber, fruits, nuts, and vegetables in your diet will help keep your kidneys running smoothly. Stay away from eating refined or processed foods.
- Exercise regularly- Staying active will help you keep a healthy weight, lower your blood pressure, and lower your risk of chronic kidney disease. While exercise is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle, overdoing it can cause kidney damage. It is critical to strike the proper balance – begin slowly and gradually increase your workload. Stay hydrated because our bodies need more fluids when we exercise. If you are at high risk for heart disease but want to start exercising, you should work with your doctor to develop an exercise plan that takes your medical history into account.
- Quit Smoking – Cigarette smoking reduces the flow of blood to our organs. When blood enters the kidneys, it has the potential to impair their ability to function normally. It also raises the risk of kidney cancer by about 50%. The safest course of action is to stop smoking.
- Get yourself regularly checked/screened- If you are at risk for kidney disease, have your kidneys tested on a regular basis by a health professional using simple blood and urine tests. Regular testing is your best bet for detecting chronic kidney disease at an early stage. Early treatment is most effective and can help prevent future health issues.
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* All information is provided for informational purposes only. If you are concerned about kidney disease, please contact your health care professional immediately.