Federated Health Charities’ mission is to improve the health and quality of life of Ontarians. We believe education and prevention are key parts of this. Check out our latest Health Hint on how to keep your kidneys healthy!
Remember, this guide is intended to help you maintain healthy kidneys by practicing healthy lifestyle habits. This guide is based on the Kidney Foundation’s recommendations and currently available research. You should consult a medical professional for any changes in exercise, diet, or other lifestyle changes that may impact your health.
What do the kidneys do?
The kidneys are bean shaped organs about the size of your fist. Your kidneys (most people are born with two) are responsible for cleaning your blood by removing toxins and concentrating them into urine. As well as keeping your blood clean, your kidneys help to make red blood cells, regulate blood pressure, and remove excess minerals and fluid from your body. The kidneys are responsible for adjusting the levels of sodium, potassium, calcium, and phosphate in your body for optimal functioning. When the kidneys’ performance is compromised, waste products like urea and creatinine can build up in your blood and indicate you may have kidney disease.
What are the risk factors?
Kidney disease can occur as a result of pre-existing conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Most kidney diseases effect the filtering capacity of the kidneys so they cannot effectively eliminate excess waste and fluids. High blood pressure can cause the filters in your kidneys to scar and lose their ability to remove wastes from your body. Likewise, high blood sugar can clog blood vessels including the ones in your kidneys, leading to a loss of function. Both high blood pressure and high blood sugar can reduce the kidneys’ ability to filter your blood.
Additional risk factors include advanced age, low birth weight, prolonged used of NSAID painkillers, lupus or other autoimmune disorders, chronic urinary tract infections, and kidney stones. The Kidney Foundation of Canada has a wealth of information and support for people with kidney disease.
Lifestyle tips to keep your kidneys in optimal shape
There are several things you can do to help keep your kidneys in good shape. Eating less salt can ease the burden of filtering out excess quantities of this substance from your body. Controlling your blood sugar levels, especially if you are diabetic, can help to place less stress on the blood vessels in your kidneys. Likewise, controlling cholesterol to manage blood pressure helps to alleviate excess strain on your kidneys. If you kidneys are overworked, their function may become impaired over time. Take a look at this site for more food tips.
If you smoke, try to quit since many of the toxins in cigarettes enter your bloodstream and will eventually make their way to your kidneys. Smoking also increases blood pressure and high blood pressure is one of the most common causes of kidney disease.
Eating more fruits and vegetables, staying active, and maintaining a healthy weight are all good habits that promote healthy kidney function. Drinking in moderation, staying hydrated, and eating protein in moderation are further habits that reduce strain on your kidneys to keep them healthy. It’s a good idea to get a checkup on a regular basis to catch any kidney disease early. Most kidney disease caught early is manageable and won’t progress to late stage kidney failure if properly managed.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our latest Health Hint!
Written by Jennifer Nemcik
NOTE: This article is intended to provide general health tips based on available research. You should consult with a health care professional for specific medical and dietary instructions that are right for you.