How to Keep Your Kidneys Healthy?
As we all know, kidneys are important organs of the body which are responsible for eliminating wastes from the body in the form of urine. They are a pair of fist-sized, bean-shaped organs located just below the rib cage on either side of the spine. Healthy kidneys filter blood every minute to remove toxins and excess water to make urine. Apart from this primary function, your kidneys also perform other important functions including:
- Maintaining healthy fluid balance
- Regulating sodium, potassium, calcium and phosphorous levels in the body
- Removal of acids produced in the cells
- Activating production of vitamin D for healthy bones and muscles.
Kidneys also produce certain hormones which help in the following:
- Controlling blood pressure
- Production of red blood cells
- Maintaining bone health
As kidneys perform some vital functions in the body, it is important to maintain healthy kidneys. The best way to maintain kidney health is to prevent health conditions that may cause kidney damage, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Some tips to maintain kidney health
Below are some tips which can help to keep your kidneys healthy:
- Make healthy food choices
- Regular physical activity
- Maintain healthy body weight
- Quit smoking
- Drink adequate amount of fluids
- Use caution with certain medicines
- Manage your health conditions (diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol)
- Get regular kidney function screening, if at high risk
Diet plays an important role in maintaining healthy kidneys, as it prevents certain risk factors associated with kidney diseases. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products. Cut down on salt and added sugars and ensure that you consume less than 2300 mg of sodium each day. Aim to get less than 10% of your calories from added sugars.
Regular physical activity lowers your risk of kidney disease in the long-run as it helps to prevent obesity, high blood pressure and maintains heart health. All these factors are important for preventing kidney damage. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every day. Any form of activity can be included such as walking, jogging, cycling, dancing, etc. or other activities of your own interest.
Keep a check on your weight as obesity can increase the risk of health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease which can damage kidneys. If you are overweight/obese consult a dietician and create a weight-loss plan. Ensure that you indulge in regular physical activity and consume foods which are naturally low in sodium such as whole grains, cauliflower, blueberries, etc.
Smoking damages blood vessels, decreasing blood flow to the kidneys. When kidneys do not receive sufficient blood flow, they cannot function normally. Smoking also increases the risk of high blood pressure and kidney cancer. Thus, it is best recommended to quit smoking and keep your kidneys healthy.
Regular and consistent fluid intake helps to clear out additional sodium and toxins from your body. This helps to decrease your risk of kidney diseases in the long-run. It is recommended to drink at least 1.5-2 liters of water in a day. Fluid intake must be adjusted based on exercise, climate and health conditions. It is also advised not to over-drink fluids and only have the required amount, as additional intake does not improve kidney functioning.
Regular intake of painkillers available over-the-counter (OTC), such as ibuprofen and naproxen can have damaging effects on your kidneys. Excessive intake of certain vitamin supplements and herbal extracts can also harm your kidneys. These medicines may be safe if taken occasionally, but it is important to consult your doctor before you take any of these medications.
It is necessary to manage health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, as these conditions are harmful for your kidneys. Monitor your blood glucose levels more than once a day and ensure that you keep the blood glucose numbers close to your goal.
Regularly monitor your blood pressure and speak to your doctor about the best blood pressure target for you. Take all your medications as prescribed by your doctor for diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
If you have existing health conditions such diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or heart diseases you may be at increased risk for kidney disease. Hence, it is recommended to get regular kidney function tests done as part of the routine care for these conditions. This can help to keep a check on kidney health in high-risk individuals.
Follow these simple lifestyle changes and take good care of your body to keep your kidneys healthy!
Dr MuthuKumar P
M.B.B.S, M.D (General Medicine), D.M (Nephrology)
Senior Consultant Nephrologist and Transplant Physician
Department of Nephrology