Kidney health is critical to your body’s ability to flush toxins and stay healthy. Your kidneys filter waste products from the blood and help regulate blood pressure, too. In addition, the kidneys produce hormones that regulate the body’s electrolytes and fluids. They also produce red blood cells, which carry oxygen-rich blood through the body.
Without properly functioning kidneys, a person’s health gravely suffers. Serious health problems can result from unhealthy kidneys, including heart disease, anemia, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, and numerous other maladies.
The good news is there are many things you can do to maintain kidney health and protect them from illness and disease. The following are five tips you can follow to keep your kidneys healthy for many years to come:
Regular physical activity is just as important for kidney health as heart health and the rest of your body! Exercise helps improve circulation, lower blood pressure, maintain a healthy weight, and control blood glucose levels. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise at least four days each week.
If you take medications, whether it’s on a regular or “as needed” basis, make sure you talk with your healthcare provider about the potential risks those medications can pose to kidney health.
Some medications put a strain on kidneys more than others, some of which include over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen. Kidney damage can occur if these medications are taken in high doses or for long periods.
The same is true for some herbs and supplements, so determine potential risks by checking with sources like the United States National Library of Medicine’s Drug Information Portal.
Most kidney problems can be traced to other medical conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Eating a healthy, balanced, varied diet can help prevent the conditions that damage kidneys and protect them from harm.
Eat plenty of foods that are low in sugar, sodium, and saturated fats. Choose foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Part of eating a healthy diet is staying hydrated — that is, drinking plenty of water. Your kidneys need plenty of hydration to function properly and clear your body of toxins and excess sodium. Aim to drink eight glasses of water daily and more if you are very active or live in a hot climate.
Knowing your family history is an important part of being diligent about your health in all respects, not just in relation to your kidneys. If you have a family history of kidney disease, you may be at increased risk for problems.
Be aware of the symptoms that can come along with kidney disease. These can include chronic headaches, swelling in the hands and feet, fatigue, bubbly-looking urine, and frequent urination.
If you notice any of the above symptoms, schedule an appointment with your doctor. Early detection of kidney disease can help prevent serious damage.
Many people are aware of the detrimental effects smoking has on the lungs, but fewer realize that smoking also negatively impacts all other organs in the body, including the kidneys. Smoking wreaks havoc on the blood vessels, which decreases the flow of blood, nutrients, and oxygen to the kidneys and all other vital organs.
A person’s lifestyle, habits, health, and history all impact their risk for developing kidney problems, so it’s a good idea to know not only the symptoms but also the risk factors.
In addition to a family history of kidney problems, other risk factors include being older, having high blood pressure or diabetes, and belonging to a population with a high rate of either of those conditions.
Make sure to get regular medical checkups, too. Your doctor can check your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood glucose levels. Maintaining proper levels is crucial to keep your kidneys healthy.
At OCRC, we are working to help create a better future for those impacted by chronic kidney disease. We are currently in need of volunteers for our Kidney Impairment study. If you’d like to learn more about this study or any of our other current studies, please fill out the “Contact Us” form or call us at 407-240-7876.