Most of us are born with two bean-shaped kidneys that reside on the left and right side of your spine and part of the lower portion of your rib cage. While not the largest part of the body like the skin, your kidneys have one of the most important roles in your health: removing toxins and waste from the bloodstream. To do this, every 24 hours, your kidneys filter and return 200 quarts of fluid. The National Kidney Foundation recommends regular examinations and screenings at least once a year for all ages.
Regular Steps for your Kidney Health
Over 37 million people are diagnosed with kidney disease in the United States. While it may seem that your body looks healthy on the outside, it may not be working efficiently or as it’s supposed to on the inside. Both men and women are at risk for kidney disease, but men are more likely to have kidney failure earlier than women.
The top causes for kidney disease are linked to diabetes and high blood pressure. While there are some risks you can’t control, there are others that you can. These are risk factors for developing kidney disease:
- A family history of kidney disease
- Over 60 years of age
- Are of African American, Hispanic or Native American heritage
- Overweight and/or a smoker
These are all indicators that you should make sure that you have regular check ups, urine tests, and other diagnostic screenings.
Some identifiable symptoms for oncoming kidney disease include: swollen feet and ankles, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and urinating more often during the nighttime. Women are actually more likely to have chronic kidney disease (CKD) but men are shown to develop kidney failure earlier. Whether you are male or female, millions of people are affected by this disease and can take action to catch their symptoms earlier and get diagnosed sooner.
Some steps you can take to decrease your risk and maintain happy and functioning kidneys include eating well and drinking lots of fluids, exercising regularly, cutting smoking entirely, and maintaining a yearly checkup with your doctor.
Good Food and Lots of Water – a Great Place to Start
One of the best ways to protect your kidneys from disease and allow them to function smoothly is to maintain a balance of macronutrients composed of protein, carbs, and fats. Overconsumption of protein is common and eating more than your body needs can make your kidneys work harder. Buying fresh foods such as veggies, spices, herbs, and avoiding fast foods is a good way to be kind to your kidneys, as well as the rest of your body. Many prepared foods contain high amounts of sodium that will make your kidneys need to flush out the excess salt to maintain equilibrium – again causing extra work for the kidneys. A recommended salt intake a day is about 2,000mg.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that daily fluid intake should be approximately 2.7 liters for women and 3.7 liters for men with about 2 of those liters being water. Constant fluids in the body allows for your kidneys to flush out waste and allow your body to not only digest foods but clean out your system. A careful diet can contribute to keeping your kidneys and your overall body functioning efficiently.
Yet Another Reason to Exercise Regularly
One of the many factors to be mindful of in preventing kidney disease is exercise. The National Kidney Foundation suggests that exercise provides many benefits for the kidneys including improvements to your muscle function, lowering blood pressure, and lowering cholesterol. Aerobic activity allows the body to move and reduces your risk. Some of these aerobic exercises include walking, swimming, biking, and dancing.
Say Goodbye to Smoking
Just as heart health is dependent on reducing or quitting smoking, the same goes for your kidneys. Smoking can increase your risk for kidney disease because it can actually combat medicines you may be using to reduce your high blood pressure. This bad addiction increases those who are already at risk with diabetes and can increase your chances for developing various kidney cancers.
Get Regular Check Ups
Consulting your doctor about your potential risks and what you can do to help keep your kidneys healthy is a great start! The National Kidney Foundation recommends annual health screening check ups for all ages. These screenings can include checking blood pressure, ordering urinalysis tests, and Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) that tells you how well your kidneys are working to remove wastes from the blood. These checkups can help diagnose you early and increase the likelihood that your kidneys will stay efficient and keep your body functioning at its best.
To schedule your check up, please contact Premier’s Internal Medicine division with offices in Poughkeepsie, Fishkill, and New Windsor.