The kidneys are bean-shaped organs about the size of a fist located on either side of your spine. Your kidneys perform very important function in your body. They help to rid your body of waste products and excess fluid through urine production. They perform the function of regulating the salt, potassium and acid content of your body. Your kidneys also produce hormones that help to regulate your blood pressure and that stimulates the production of red blood cells.
Taking care of your kidneys and keeping them healthy is something you should take seriously. You need your kidneys in good state to live a healthy life. When you neglect the care of your kidneys, your kidneys may develop problems. Although kidney problems may develop from uncontrollable factors like genetics and race, lifestyle and diet play a big role. They may either increase or decrease your risk of kidney problems, and they also largely determine the outcome of kidney problems.
How to Keep your Kidneys Healthy
Do not Smoke
Smoking is bad for you in every way. When you smoke, you hinder your kidneys from working as they should. Smoking can damage your blood vessels and this reduces the pace at which blood flows to your kidneys. When you do not have enough blood getting to your kidneys, your kidneys would not be able to properly carry out their functions.
Smoking also restricts the flow of blood to other organs in your body. If you are hypertensive and you are taking medications to manage it, smoking can affect how those medications work. Quitting smoking would benefit your health in great ways. Smoking is the strongest, modifiable risk factor for kidney disease. Smoking also increases your risk of cancer by 50%. If you have trouble with quitting, you should seek help. Quitting smoking is one of the most important factors in preventing kidney disease.
Do not drink alcohol, but if you must, then don’t drink too much. Drinking too much alcohol increases your risk of high blood pressure, which is a common cause of kidney disease. Alcohol affects how your kidneys perform their work. It makes it harder for your kidneys to filter your blood and also affects the ability of your kidneys to keep the right amount of water in your body.
Alcohol also causes dehydration. This further affects the function of your kidneys as well as other cells and organs of your body. Excessive drinking can lead to liver disease. When the liver becomes diseased, the work of the kidneys becomes harder. If you have high blood pressure, alcohol can also affect how the medications you use to manage the condition works.
Cut Down on Salt
Most people consume more sodium (about three times more) than they need. The suggested sodium intake per day is 2,300 milligrams and a lot less for people with high blood pressure. Eating too much salt directly affects your blood pressure. When you eat too much salt, your body retains more water. The extra water in your body in turn raises your blood pressure.
A high blood pressure puts a strain on your kidneys and other organs in your body. A high sodium intake also affects how hypertension medications work. The most important thing you need to do to reduce your sodium intake is to cut out processed and packaged foods from your diet.
Drink Enough Water
Drinking too little or too much water would not benefit your kidneys. Drinking just enough water every day would help your kidneys function properly. The color of your urine tells you whether you are dehydrated or hydrated. If the color of your urine is yellow, that’s a sign that you need more water, but if your urine is clear or pale, then you are good.
When you do not drink enough water, the volume of fluid in your body decreases, and this may cause your blood pressure to fall. A low blood pressure decreases the flow of blood to your kidneys as well as to other vital organs in your body. Dehydration can also increase your risk of urinary tract infection and kidney stones, both of which can cause damage to your kidneys.
Be Careful with Supplements
There are a lot of supplements out there that promises great benefits for your health. You probably wouldn’t need a supplement if your body derives all the nutrients it needs from the foods you eat. In this case, supplements are not necessary and they may in fact be harmful, especially when they are abused.
What supplements do is to make up for deficiencies in your nutrient intake. Certain health conditions can affect the way the body uses nutrients. Supplements may be recommended to help manage the condition. Supplements cannot take the place of the nutrients you would get from eating healthy foods. Always check with your doctor to be sure that a supplement is safe and beneficial for you. Too much supplements would harm your kidneys.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Lose weight if you are obese or overweight. Carrying too much weight increases your risk of high blood pressure and diabetes, conditions which can cause kidney disease. The best way for you to lose weight is to exercise daily and to eat healthy. Stress management also play an important role in weight control. Sitting less is as important as exercising. Look for ways to reduce the amount of time you spend sitting every. If you work requires that you sit most of the time, standing and stretching at short intervals would benefit you.
One of the ways to make healthy eating easier for you is to prepare your food. This way, you can control the amount of salt and every other thing that goes into it. You would also be able to choose fresh and natural ingredients. There are a lot of healthy recipes which are not just good for your kidneys but for your overall health. Eliminate trans fats from your diet. Reduce your intake of foods that are high in cholesterol and saturated fats like meat, fried foods and dairy products and substitute them with foods that are rich in healthy fats.
Do not Abuse Over-the-counter Medications
If you take common pain killers like ibuprofen regularly and over an extended period, your kidneys can become damaged. If you have a health condition like arthritis or chronic back pain that requires prolonged use of pain killers, discuss with your doctor on how to manage the pain without increasing your risk of kidney disease. The use of hard drugs like nicotine, cocaine and heroin can also cause kidney disease.
Manage Your Health
If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, it is very important for you to manage them well. These two conditions are risk factors of kidney disease. Take your medications correctly and go for regular checkups. Heart disease is also a risk factor of kidney disease. If you have any of these conditions, regular screening for kidney dysfunction should be a part of your routine care.
It is possible to have problems with the kidneys and not be aware on time. This is why regular checkups are important. The kidneys usually get affected too when other organs in the body is affected or when something goes wrong in the body. When you protect yourself from other health conditions, you also reduce your risk of developing problems with your kidneys.