How To Keep Your Kidneys Healthy

Taking care of our kidneys should be a top priority. Yet, most of us don’t pay attention to these organs until we feel kidney pain. And by the time you finally take notice, it might already be too late.

Indeed, studies have shown that 90% of kidney function can be lost without any symptoms showing.

So let’s start from the beginning… What do the kidneys do exactly?

Kidneys are small, bean-shaped organs located in the lower abdomen, that perform many important functions. Most importantly, they are in charge of filtering blood and removing waste through urine.

They also produce hormones and maintain internal fluid balance.

Here are some ways to improve the function of kidney naturally : 

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  • Nutrition :

The easiest way to prevent your kidneys from damage and protect them from disease would be following a kidney-friendly diet. This will also improve your overall health and boost your metabolism.

A kidney-healthy diet, also called ‘ a renal diet ‘ includes a limit of 2g of sodium and potassium, and 1g of phosphorus daily.

However, you should keep in mind that while some foods are of great importance for kidney health, they might not be suitable for you if you already have kidney disease.

Here are the best foods for good, healthy kidneys :

  • Water :

The most important change should be incorporating water into your diet by drinking at least 1.5 to 2 liters a day.

Water is necessary for the proper functioning of cells. It also aids in kidney health.

As stated earlier, kidneys are in charge of filtering blood and removing waste. In order to transport toxins in the bloodstream and flush them out of your body, kidneys use a significant amount of water.

This is why increasing your water consumption will only do you good.

  • Omega 3 :

The human body cannot make omega 3 fatty acids on its own, which is why we need to get it directly from our diet. And what better source of omega 3 is there other than fatty fish like salmon and tuna?

The National Kidney Foundation declared that omega 3 might reduce fat levels in the bloodstream, while also lowering blood pressure.

As high blood pressure is a symptom of kidney disease, consuming fatty fish is a good, natural way to protect your kidneys.

  • Foods that are high in anti-oxidants :

The reason why you should add anti-oxidants to your diet is that they are known as protective compounds. In fact, anti-oxidants help ward off cell damage by removing free radicals (a.k.a cell waste products ) before they can cause harm our bodies.

For example, dark leafy greens, pecans, and berries are a great food choice to prevent kidney disease.

  • Note: Beware of foods that are high in sodium.
  • Stop smoking :

We all know that smoking is bad for our health and that it has long been associated with plenty of diseases such as respiratory problems and cancers. However, what you probably did not know is that smoking affects different organs in your body other than the respiratory system.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking harms nearly all of our body organs. It also plays a big role in the progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Here is a list of some of the possible ways smoking is thought to harm kidneys :

  • It reduces blood flow in the kidney and damages your arterioles (small-diameter blood vessels).
  • It increases blood pressure
  • It allows other toxins into our body.
  • It accelerates the loss of kidney function.
  • Pay attention to the amount of over-the-counter medication you take :

Over-the-counter medicine, also known as OTC, refer to medicine that you can buy without a prescription from your doctor such as ibuprofen and naproxen. They’re the go-to choice when dealing with pain, fevers, headaches or menstrual cramps. OTCs are usually safe and effective if you follow the indications correctly.

However, you should limit your consumption if you are regularly taking them.

According to the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), as many as 3 to 5 % of kidney diseases are related to the overuse of painkillers. In fact, a high dose or a longterm use of OTCs have harmful effects on kidney tissue and structures.

  • To avoid kidney problems due to medication, it’s important that you follow the instructions written on the label, and avoid becoming dehydrated when you take them.
  • Nonprescription pain medicines shouldn’t be an option if you haven’t talked to your doctor about it. You might be damaging your kidneys without realizing it.

Other than the ways stated above, you can also prevent disease to your kidneys by controlling your blood sugar, being active and monitoring your blood pressure.

What you should avoid :

The most common risk factors for kidney disease are uncontrolled diabetes and high blood pressure. Other causes include alcoholism, HIV infection and hepatitis C.

However, you are in a position to improve kidney function and prevent further damage by avoiding or limiting certain foods that you might be consuming in your daily life.

  • Avocados, bananas…

The reason why they should be avoided on a renal diet is due to their high content in potassium. One cup of avocado ( 150grams) provides 727 mg of potassium.

  • Canned foods :

They are usually high in sodium. Opt for lower-sodium varieties or those labeled «  no salt added ».

  • Dairy :

Dairy is a natural source of phosphorus and potassium, as well as a good source of protein. However, consuming too much dairy can be detrimental to your health for those with kidney disease, particularly to your bones.

It might occur as a surprise as dairy is usually recommended for strong bones. But the reason is that a damaged kidney cannot process a high amount of phosphorus, which causes a build-up in the bloodstream.

The result of this build-up is bones prone to breakage or fracture.

Conclusion :

Don’t wait for kidney diseases to show up for you to take action. Take the matter into your own hands: make sure that you are always well hydrated and pay attention to what you consume. Kidneys are vital for your overall health and should always be a top health priority.