When people think of vital organs, the heart and lungs typically come to mind first. However, you don’t hear about the kidneys as often, even though they are also vital organs. Responsible for filtering blood, the kidneys help regulate many substances in your body and safely remove waste. Problems with your kidneys can be just as dangerous as heart disease. Diabetes and polycystic kidney disease (PKD) are only two of many severe illnesses that can be fatal if left unchecked. Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do to keep your kidneys healthy.
Not Drinking Enough Water
Water is vital to pretty much every part of the human body, and kidneys are no exception. As filters for the body, kidneys function much better when properly hydrated. The kidneys take in waste products from the blood and using excess water, generate urine with which to flush out the waste. However, a lack of water allows toxic substances to build up in and around the kidneys, which compromises their effectiveness and leads to severe infections. It may even lead to acute renal failure. With that in mind, it’s essential to keep them clean. Lots of water helps with this.
Avoiding Your Dr.
Regular check-ups can also keep you healthy, kidneys, and all. Your doctor may notice unusual things with your blood sugar or blood pressure, which can point to issues with your kidneys. If you already have kidney complications, such as PKD or diabetes, it’s that much more important to keep track of your kidney health with medical professionals. Otherwise, see your doctor if you notice anything unusual, like blood in your urine, significant discoloration, or kidney pain. Kidney failure can indeed go undetected for a long time, but regular check-ups give you a better chance of catching illnesses early.
Eating Too Much Salt
Salt in excess is just as dangerous as excess sugar. Too much salt can dehydrate the body, which makes things tough on the kidneys. Additionally, it can raise blood pressure by weakening and hardening blood vessels. This makes it more difficult for the heart to pump blood throughout the body. It can also pollute the blood, which also contributes to the kidneys’ workload. High blood pressure, or hypertension, along with other heart diseases can become a contributing factor for diabetes (and vice versa). Use low-sodium table salt or Himalayan rock salt if possible; better yet, drop salt altogether.
While an occasional drink of alcohol can be good for the body, alcohol can cause problems for your kidneys when taken in excess. Much like the pancreas and sugar, kidneys support the liver in the same manner when it comes to dealing with alcohol. Consuming too much alcohol in a short period can cause liver damage as well as kidney damage. Alcohol dehydrates the body, which makes it more difficult for the kidneys to do their job. Thus, heavy drinking can lead to liver disease, and kidney disease, as the kidneys must work harder to support the liver.
Eating Too Much Sugar
Too much sugar can raise blood sugar level, which can increase the risk of developing diabetes. This happens because the pancreas generates insulin to absorb sugar from the blood; however, over time, the body’s cells can become more and more resistant to insulin, and so the pancreas must create more and more insulin to maintain a safe blood sugar level. This affects the kidneys because when there is too much sugar in the blood for the pancreas to handle, the kidneys must work harder to filter it, taking damage in the process. Regulating sugar intake can prevent this from happening.
Lack of Exercise
Believe it or not, exercising helps to keep all of your organs running efficiently. It’s not just about the heart and lungs. The body is a comprehensive system that works together, so as you exercise, you improve the function of the kidneys. This means that your body gets cleaner, more nutrient-rich blood, your bowels remove waste more efficiently, and you feel better overall. Exercising has also proven to reduce the likelihood of kidney related ailments (and other illnesses) such as kidney stones and diabetes. Regular exercise also provides you with energy- the more you do, the better you’ll feel.
It should go without saying that smoking is bad for your health. Smoking generates extra unnecessary waste in your body without providing anything useful to it. This means the kidneys must work to remove this waste from the body, and there is nothing gained from the process. Cigarettes contain many harmful chemicals, some of which are dangerous enough to be fatal to humans. Smoking can damage other parts of your body, including the lips, throat, and lungs, even before kidneys get a chance to clean up the mess. If you want to protect your kidney health, stay away from cigarettes.
While your doctor can keep an eye on you with check-ups every so often, it’s up to you to take charge of your health. Monitoring your blood pressure and cholesterol at home can keep you ready for your doctor’s appointments, and can allow you to better track positive lifestyle changes that cut your risk of kidney disease. Additionally, make sure you’re getting enough rest. Deep restful sleep gives your body time to perform maintenance processes, such as repairing organ and muscle tissue, and (you guessed it) blood filtration. Conversely, inadequate sleep can leave you weakened and vulnerable to illness.
Not Eating Healthy
Healthy food doesn’t just provide essential nutrients for your body. Eating healthy is also easier on your body, to begin with, because it doesn’t have to struggle to process healthy food. If you consume a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, you gain powerful antioxidants that can fight organ damage, as well as other useful vitamins and minerals. Potassium is a good example. It helps to balance out sodium in the blood, and it also contributes to insulin production, which keeps blood sugar at reasonable levels. This can lower the risk of heart disease and improve kidney function.