Are You Doing Enough to Protect your Kidneys?

Because the risk factors of kidney disease include common health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes, one in three Americans have an increased risk of developing the disease, which affects more than 200,000 Americans a year and can be deadly.

Since kidneys are vital to your overall health (they filter waste and excess fluid from your blood) and kidney disease can lead to needing daily dialysis or a transplant, it’s important to look after them. These five steps will help you do just that:

  1. Exercise. Staying fit with regular exercise, whether it’s a walk, jog, run or strength training, will help reduce your blood pressure and therefore reduce your risk of developing chronic kidney disease. For some extra motivation to get a move on, check out four ways to break through your workout plateaus and how to get your workout mojo back.
  2. Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of fluids helps your kidneys function properly. If you’re sweating more than usual in hot summer weather or after a tough workout, be sure to drink more water to make up for the fluid lost. The Institute of Medicine says that men need approximately 13 cups (3 liters) of water daily, and women need approximately 9 cups (2.2 liters) daily.
  3. Avoid smoking. Smoking slows the flow of blood to the kidneys, inhibiting their ability to function properly. Your risk of having kidney cancer increase by about 50 percent if you smoke. If you’re a smoker and want help quitting, head here.
  4. Limit processed foods and salt. Keep your sodium intake to 2.3 grams daily (the equivalent of 5.8 grams of salt). Preparing food yourself and limiting packaged snacks makes it easier to control how much sodium you’re consuming. For more tips on cutting down on sodium, check out these tips.
  5. Be cautious with supplements. Over-the-counter medicines, common prescriptions and nutritional supplements can have serious effects on your kidney function. Specifically, watch out for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen, antibiotics and dietary supplements. It’s important to have a discussion with your doctor about any medicine or supplements you plan to take before starting.

For more blogs on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, check out these other posts:

Photo Credit: faungg’s photos

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