The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs on either side of your spine. They filter our blood, remove toxins, and produce urine. But how do we keep them healthy so they can continue to do this for the rest of our lives?
Here are six quick tips for how to keep your kidneys healthy and strong:
Drink More Water
Drink more water! In order to function properly, your kidneys need a good amount of water every day. Keep drinking throughout the day, so you’re never dehydrated, and try adding a lemon wedge or cucumber slice if you don’t like plain water. If you want to know how much water you should drink, take your weight in pounds and divide it by two—that’s how many ounces you need to drink every day. Studies show that drinking water helps the body in many ways. For example, it lubricates joints, helps with digestion, and helps flush out toxins in the body. If you’re not drinking enough water every day, your kidneys won’t function properly.
Eat Less Salt
Excess salt consumption can harm your kidneys and make you retain more water. This can cause hypertension, which increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. Salt also makes you crave more sugar, leading to weight gain. In a diet high in salt, the body holds onto the water to dilute it. This leads to a higher blood volume, which requires more effort from the heart to pump it around the body. The extra pressure this exerts on the walls of arteries can increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke. A high-salt diet may also contribute to bone loss in older people because salt increases calcium excretion in urine. It is recommended that adults not consume more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. A simple way to reduce sodium intake is to avoid processed foods and season fresh foods with salt-free spices instead of table salt.
Avoid Excess Protein
Protein is a critical component of our diet, helping us build muscle and repair tissues. However, getting enough protein can be challenging. But what if you’re getting too much? Too much protein in your diet can put a strain on your kidneys, so it’s essential to pay attention to how much protein you’re eating. Specifically, people with chronic kidney disease are encouraged to limit their protein intake to worsen their symptoms. In general, people need about 10% of their calories to come from protein sources. The recommended daily allowance varies by age group. For adults ages 19-70, that means between 46g and 56g per day. You don’t need to eat meat or animal products to reach this amount; there are many plant-based proteins that you can eat instead! Our registered Dietitian Nutritionist can help you plan a healthy diet personalized to your needs and health condition.
Drinking alcohol is a dangerous habit for your kidneys. Alcohol is a toxin that requires your kidneys to work harder in order to remove it from your body. Excessive drinking can cause the glomeruli, the tiny filters in your kidney, to become inflamed and scarred. The more you drink, the more damage you do. If you drink too much, you are at risk of developing kidney failure. Heavy drinking can also cause problems with other organs such as the liver and brain, making it difficult for those organs to send signals to your kidneys telling them how much urine to make. This can cause dehydration, which can lead to kidney stones or damage.
Get Enough Rest
Your kidneys work hard all day to filter out toxins and waste products from your blood, so when you go to sleep at night, they get a chance to rest and repair themselves. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, your kidneys won’t have enough time to do their job—and the toxins will build up in your system until it can no longer keep up with them. When that happens, you might experience nausea or headache. Sometimes, severe symptoms like vomiting, chest pain, fainting, swelling of the hands and feet, or even seizures. So don’t skimp on sleep! Shoot for 8 hours per night for the best results.
The National Kidney Foundation recommends getting at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. This can help keep your blood pressure down, which is essential in maintaining good kidney health. You don’t have to run a marathon or join a gym—even just a brisk walk around the block can improve your blood pressure and help maintain sound kidney health. If you’re not able to walk, try some other form of low-impact exercises such as yoga, light stretching, or swimming. In addition to improving your blood pressure and overall health, regular exercise can help reduce stress, improve sleep patterns, and even improve your mood!
If you’ve been diagnosed with kidney disease, have questions about your treatment options, or want to learn more about kidney health, our expert Nephrologists, who have assisted countless patients in managing their renal disease, are available to you 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Our hospitals are equipped with advanced and cutting-edge dialysis systems that seamlessly integrate technology, safety, and comfort to provide the best possible and compassionate care in a friendly and comfortable environment.