If you have never thought about it, now is a good time to start a conversation about keeping kidneys healthy.
After all, chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects 37 million people. And CKD is one of the leading causes of kidney failure, which can be fatal.
There is good news, though. Living a healthier lifestyle can help reduce the risk of complications from CKD. Better yet, adopting the tips the Schneider Regional Medical Center (SRMC) recommends can help you prevent CKD altogether.
Sound too good to be true? Then you’ve got to keep reading to learn more about how you can improve your kidney health with only a few diet and lifestyle changes.
But First, Why Does Kidney Health Matter?
Kidneys are critical to human health. That’s because they help filter out toxins and fluids from your body. If your kidneys stop functioning, these toxins and fluids can buildup to unhealthy levels.
CKD occurs when a person’s kidney function gradually breaks down. Most people realize they’re experiencing kidney failure when symptoms begin to arise, including:
- Loss of appetite
- Fatigue and weakness
- Sleep problems
- Changes in urination patterns
- Muscle spasms and cramps
- Swollen feet and ankles
- Chest Pain
- Shortness of breath
- High blood pressure
If left untreated, CKD can progress into end-stage kidney failure. And end-stage kidney failure is fatal.
Risk Factors for CKD
CKD becomes more common with age. Obese individuals and people who smoke also experience kidney diseases at a higher rate.
Other high-risk factors include having diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, or a family history of CKD.
Being of African American, Native American, or Asian American descent is also known to increase kidney disease risk.
Tips for Keeping Kidneys Healthy
With these risk factors for CKD in mind, you can tweak your lifestyle to improve kidney health.
Here are our top tips for doing just that.
Get More Exercise
Obesity is one of the most well-known risk factors for kidney disease. And obese people have a higher chance of developing high blood pressure, another risk factor for CKD.
SRMC, The VI Department of Health (VIDOH), and The US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recommends that adults get plenty of cardiovascular and resistance exercises every week.
Try to get at least 150 minutes of moderately-intense cardio each week. Alternatively, you can shoot for 75 minutes of high-intensity cardio each week.
Moderate-intensity exercises include fast walking and going for a bike ride. Running, climbing stairs, and jump roping are high-intensity exercises.
Resistance exercises are also known as strength training. The DHHS suggests adults aim for at least two sessions of resistance training per week. Combined, these sessions should address all your major muscle groups.
Smoking damages blood vessels and leads to decreased blood flow throughout the body. That’s why it’s one of the leading causes of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disorder.
High blood pressure and the cardiovascular disorders that result from it are high-risk factors for kidney disease. And people with diabetes who smoke are at an even greater likelihood of developing CKD.
The good news is that quitting smoking can actually reverse the risk of cardiovascular disorders and, therefore, kidney disease. Quitting smoking can also help people already diagnosed with kidney disease manage their condition.
Eat a Nutritious Diet
What we eat doesn’t just determine our body size. Food gives us energy, nourishes our cells, and keeps our mood steady throughout the day.
A healthy diet can also help prevent diabetes and high blood pressure, both risk factors for kidney disease. And the best part? A healthy diet doesn’t have to be difficult to follow.
The recommended daily food intake varies by age, fitness level, and overall health. In general, though, it’s recommended that adults eat:
- Up to 3 cups of colorful vegetables per day, including leafy greens like spinach, kale, and broccoli
- Up to 2 cups of fruit per day
- About half a cup of whole grains per day
- Up to 6 ounces of poultry, fish, or lean meat per day
- Up to 3 cups of dairy
- Up to 2 tablespoons of healthy oils like peanut oil, canola oil, olive oil, or avocado oil
Experts also recommend you keep sugar, salt, and saturated fat contents to a minimum. People with diabetes should keep an eye on blood sugars. Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are high-risk factors for kidney disease.
Finally, make sure you’re drinking at least 1.5 liters of water per day. Getting enough water can help your kidneys function better. Plus, drinking plenty of fluids is good for your health, in general.
Watch Your Medications and Supplements
Over-the-counter (OTC) medications are those you can buy without a prescription. For example, ibuprofen is an OTC medication.
While OTC medications are excellent tools for treating minor health complaints at home, taking these medications too regularly may damage your kidneys. If you already suffer from kidney disease, taking even one of these medications can worsen your symptoms.
This may surprise you, but you should also be cautious when taking herbal supplements. Strive to get all of your vitamins and nutrients from food as supplementing some vitamins can negatively affect your kidney health.
If you’re wondering whether your medications are causing kidney damage, schedule an appointment with SR Medical Center. We can help determine the best OTCs and herbal supplements for you.
Call SRMC for a Kidney Screening
Getting more exercise, eating a nutritious diet, quitting smoking, and being cautious of OTC medications and supplements are the secrets to keeping kidneys healthy.
But what happens when these tips aren’t enough for good kidney health?
If you have one or more risk factors of chronic kidney disease, our staff can help you schedule a kidney function test to check for possible damage. Get an appointment today!