March is National Kidney Month. It helps to raise awareness about chronic kidney disease (CKD) and kidney health. Chronic kidney disease is a condition that 1 in every 7 adults (age 18 or older) in the United States has, according to the CDC. So, what are some of the ways to keep your kidneys healthy?
First, what do those hard-working kidneys do for you?
Kidneys clearly provide vital functions, so taking care of them is essential. The World Kidney Day organization suggests following these 8 Golden Rules to keep your kidneys healthy.
Keep fit and active
Keeping fit helps to reduce your blood pressure and therefore reduces the risk of Chronic Kidney Disease.
Whether you prefer walking, running and cycling, the important thing is to get up and moving.
Keep regular control of your blood sugar level
Approximately 50% of people who have diabetes develop kidney damage, so it is important for people with diabetes to have regular tests to check their kidney functions. These tests can reduce or prevent kidney damage with early detection.
Also, it is important to keep control of blood sugar levels with the help of doctors, nutritionist or pharmacists.
Monitor your blood pressure
It’s widely known that high blood pressure can lead to a stroke or heart attack but few people know that it is also the most common cause of kidney damage.
“The normal blood pressure level is 120/80. Between this level and 139/89, you are considered pre-hypertensive and should adopt lifestyle and dietary changes. At 140/90 and above, you should discuss the risks with your doctor and monitor your blood pressure level regularly. High blood pressure is especially likely to cause kidney damage when associated with other factors like diabetes, high cholesterol and Cardiovascular Diseases.”
Eat healthy and keep your weight in check
Besides being good for you overall, this can help prevent diabetes, heart disease and other conditions associated with Chronic Kidney Disease.
One suggestion is to reduce your salt intake. The Dietary Guidelines from the FDA recommend that the general population consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day (about a teaspoon of table salt). You can reduce your salt intake by limiting the amount of processed and restaurant food that you consume and by not adding salt to food. It’s easier to control your intake if you prepare food for yourself with fresh ingredients. For more information on nutrition and kidney friendly cooking, talk to your nutritionist or doctor.
Maintain a healthy fluid intake
Although there is still a slight disagreement on the ideal quantity of water and other fluids we should consume daily to maintain good health, traditionally the recommendation is to drink 1.5 to 2 liters (3 to 4 pints) of water per day.
Consuming plenty of fluid helps the kidneys clear sodium, urea and toxins from the body which. However, researchers do not advocate “aggressive fluid loading”, which can cause side effects, but they do provide evidence that moderately increased water intake, around two liters daily, may reduce the risk of decline in kidney function. Be sure to keep in mind that the right level of fluid intake for any individual depends on many factors including gender, exercise, climate, health conditions, pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Do not smoke
This is a no-brainer. In addition to all of the risks associated with smoking, it also slows the flow of blood to the kidneys which impairs their ability to function properly. Smoking also increases the risk of kidney cancer by about 50%.
Do not take over-the-counter pills on a regular basis
These common drugs, like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, are known to cause kidney damage and disease if taken regularly.
If used occasionally or for emergencies, such medications most likely do not pose significant danger if your kidneys are relatively healthy. However, when dealing with chronic pain, such as arthritis or back pain, you should consider working with your health care professional to find a way to control your pain without putting your kidneys at risk.
Get your kidney function checked if you have one or more of the ‘high risk’ factors
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