Your kidneys are fist-sized organs located at the bottom of your rib cage, on both sides of your spine. They perform several functions including filtering waste, excess water, and other impurities from the blood. They also balance potassium, salt and pH levels in the body, produce hormones to help regulate blood pressure and red blood cell production, and activate a form of vitamin D that helps the body absorb calcium to build strong bones and regulate muscle function.
Did you know that kidney disease is often referred to as a “silent disease” because there are usually no symptoms during early stages of trouble? A large percentage of people who have chronic kidney disease don’t even know it until it’s very advanced.
Maintaining kidney health is important to your overall health and general well-being, and there are several simple things you can easily do to help keep your kidneys in good shape!
Stay Active and Fit
Regular exercise can lower the risk of chronic kidney disease. It also helps to reduce blood pressure and boost heart health, which are both important for preventing kidney damage. You don’t have to do anything too strenuous. Moderate walking, jogging, and similar activity can do wonders for your kidneys and overall health!
Keep an Eye on Your Levels
Monitor Your Blood Sugar: People with risk factors for high blood sugar, such as those with diabetes or similar conditions, could more easily develop kidney damage. When the body can’t process glucose (sugar) properly the kidney have to work extra hard to filter the blood, which over time can be harmful to the body.
Monitor Blood Pressure: If your blood pressure readings tend to skew above 140/90, you may have a high blood pressure problem. Lifestyle changes can often help with controlling blood pressure naturally, or, you can talk with your doctor to see if there’s a prescription medication that might work well for you. If left unmanaged, high blood pressure can cause significant damage to the body. Shoot for an average blood pressure reading of 120/80 to stay in the healthiest range.
Monitor Your Diet and Weight: Being overweight can cause strain on the body sometimes resulting in heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, or other conditions. For kidney health, try a diet that’s low in sodium, processed meats, and other kidney-damaging foods. Fresh ingredients that are low in sodium such as cauliflower, blueberries, fish, whole grains, and more are good things to add to your diet.
Monitor Your Fluid Intake: Everyone knows that drinking water is key to keeping our bodies functioning properly. For the kidneys, this is especially important as water helps to clear out sodium and toxins from the kidneys so that they can perform their normal functions. A good goal is to aim for 1.5 to 2 liters a day, though how much water you need can also be impacted by your health and lifestyle. Factors like gender, diet, activity levels, even climate, can all make a difference. Your doctor can help direct you towards the appropriate intake of water your body could use on a daily basis.
Smoking has a lot of potential side effects. One that specifically affects your kidneys is that smoking damages your body’s blood vessels, which means blood doesn’t flow through your body and to your kidneys the way it should. If you smoke, quit. Your risk will drop the longer you remain a non-smoker!
Be Aware of the Amount of OTC Pills You Take
Over the counter medications can help with a lot of things, such as headaches, arthritis, swelling, fever, itching, stomach pain, and much more. But it’s important to be aware of just how many OTC meds you take. Pain relievers especially, if taken in excess, can cause damage to the kidneys. According to the National Kidney Foundation, these medications should not be taken for more than 10 days for pain, or more than three days for fever.
Get Your Kidneys Tested
A regular kidney function test is a great way to know your kidney’s health and to check for possible changes. Getting ahead of any damage can help slow or prevent future damage.
Talk to your primary care provider to see what testing and support may be available for you!