Kidney health is often one of the last things on our mind. With all the daily stresses we deal with, our “autopilot” kidneys are easy to neglect–but this is a mistake! Your kidneys only work on autopilot when you take good care of them. And since they are what keeps your body in clean working order, it’s in your best interest to do just that. So how do you promote good kidney health? Glad you asked!
1. Get your kidney function checked regularly
Since we don’t manifest signs or symptoms of kidney disease until its late stage I would recommend that you have your blood work checked by your PCP regularly. Its important to check your serum creatinine.
Get your kidney function checked regularly if you have one or more of the ‘high risk’ factors:
- If you smoke
- Over the age of 50 years
- One of your parents or other family members suffers from kidney disease
- Of African, Hispanic, Asian, or Aboriginal origin.
2. Check you BP and keep a log
Hypertension is the 2nd leading cause of CKD. It important for you to know you definition of normal BP, pre-hypertension and hypertension.
When asked, most people think their BP is “normal.”
If you are not diagnosed with HTN then regular BP checks is sufficient. If you are diagnosed with hypertension, I suggest keeping a BP log (with date, time in relation to meds of you take them) and taking it with you to your doctor appointment.
3. Eat Clean
You know exactly what this means. Try to adopt a DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet. This can help lower blood pressure and lower your chances of getting heart disease and kidney disease. It includes fruits, vegetables, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, and nuts. It also has less sodium, sugars, fats, and red meats.
Most importantly eat out less and stop eating processed foods.
4. Stay active
This needs to be incorporated into your lifestyle. Don’t make this a short-lived change.
There are many types of exercises that can help you stay healthy including walking, running, playing a sport, or aerobic exercise. Enjoy nature with a hike.
5. Quit Smoking
This has directly been linked to kidney cancer. Once a tumor develops on the kidney you will either need to have part or your entire kidney removed. This may force you to go on dialysis if you have bad kidney function to begin with.
6. Do not overuse pain medicines
Ibuprofen is the most common culprit that we overlook. It falls under a catergory of meds called NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) Ibuprofen has several “cousin drugs” that belong into this category such as naproxen. Read the name of the pain med you take, look it up and please avoid long term use of NSAIDS. It is commonly seen in females who take them for heavy menstrual cycles.
7. Stay hydrated
I advise patients to let go of their “Smart drinks” or “energy drinks”. Stay away from soda and carbonated drinks. Simple H20 is what the kidneys love. It clears sodium, urea and toxins from the body which according to research in Australia and Canada results in a “significantly lower risk” of developing CKD.
There is no perfect amount which can be recommended across the board. It depends upon your metabolic rate, gender, activity, climate, health conditions. If you have or had a kidney stones then you must drink at least 2 liters of water to prevent a new stone formation.