You probably don’t think too much about your kidneys, and that’s a good thing: it means they’re working, and you’ll want to keep it that way. Having kidney problems can result in a variety of health problems, and can also lead to fatal kidney disease.
The purpose of your kidneys is to remove waste from your bloodstream (among other functions like producing urine), so you can imagine what might happen if that mechanism failed. Here are seven ways you can help your kidneys remain healthy and efficient (and assist them if they’re already experiencing problems)…
1. Stay Hydrated
Water is an important component for all bodily functions, so it’s a good idea to make a habit of having a glass of water when you can. However, the Cleveland Clinic says while you should hydrate, you shouldn’t “overdo it.”
The clinic adds, “Contrary to popular belief, no studies have proven over-hydration as an effective practice in enhancing kidney function.” That doesn’t mean more water will do any harm to your kidneys, but you may find yourself spending more time in the bathroom as a result…
2. Eat a Kidney-Friendly Diet
The National Kidney Foundation suggests being wary of the kinds of foods you’re putting into your body (which, again, is a healthy habit to get into for your overall health). The foundation said a kidney and heart-healthy diet consists of less sodium, an ample supply of fruits and vegetables, and Omega-3 rich foods like salmon.
The source also notes you should try to reduce the amount of processed foods you’re eating (which can be easier said than done), as well as knocking down intake of saturated fats found in foods such as eggs, whole milk, cheese and fried foods.
3. Get Moving
Your kidneys will perform better when you perform some exercise, according to Chatelaine magazine. The source notes that kidney health can get a boost through yoga, and even illustrates 5 yoga poses that apparently promote kidney health and wellness.
You don’t have to give up exercise if you already have a kidney issue. In fact, multiple sources recommend the opposite, and encourage you to stay fit to assist your body’s functions. Talk to a doctor about taking on an exercise program or continuing with one that you’re already on following a diagnosis of chronic kidney disease.
4. Keep the Pressure Off
The National Kidney Foundation says that blood pressure is important as it relates to kidney health, and you may be prescribed medication to help with this. The foundation also notes the medications most preferred for those with existing kidney disease are called are called angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs).
Taking in too much fluid and salt can also increase the load on your circulatory system, so be sure to talk to your doctor about limits for each. We already covered exercise, but we should also mention that’s a great natural way to keep blood pressure under control.
5. Take it to Heart
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases notes that if you have heart disease, you could be at higher risk of kidney disease, and vice versa. This is because they share 2-main causes: diabetes and high blood pressure, notes the source.
In fact, the institute notes, “Heart disease is the most common cause of death among people who have kidney disease.” You can be tested for kidney disease through a blood and urine test at your doctor’s office, notes the source. The blood results will show your glomerular filtration rate (GFR), which indicates how efficiently your kidneys are functioning.
6. Beware of Supplements
While vitamin supplements can be beneficial in some cases if you’re low in some areas, taking too many can actually have a negative effect on your kidneys, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The same goes for herbal extracts, it adds.
The best course of action is to be up front with your physician about any supplements you’re taking. Also, be aware that some over-the-counter supplements can interact with medications and cause a variety of side effects. There’s a handy reference guide to supplements/drug interaction posted on Drugs.com.
7. Quit Smoking
This one pops up a lot referring to lung and heart health, but it’s no different when it comes to your kidney health. Smoking can constrict and damage blood vessels, lowering the amount of blood flowing to the kidneys.
This WebMD article explains that smoking can boost risk of kidney disease in diabetic patients, but can also “ lead to potentially dangerous changes in kidney function even in otherwise healthy people.” Some sources also say that smoking can prevent blood pressure medications from doing their job properly.