March is National Kidney Month, and while the kidneys are essential organs in our bodies, they are sometimes misunderstood. Let’s discuss the functions of the kidneys and how you can take proactive steps to keep yours safe and healthy!
What Do Kidneys Do?
Most people have two functioning kidneys. They work to filter our blood, remove waste and excess fluid, control our blood pressure, make red blood cells, and keep our bones healthy. When kidneys are damaged, they are unable to filter blood the way that healthy kidneys can, which leads to serious health issues and a condition called CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease).
Steps to Take
Now that we know the importance of our kidneys, how can we best care for them? Let’s look at 5 things you can do to improve your kidney health:
- Eat Well – An overall healthy lifestyle is key in maintaining the health of your kidneys. When we eat healthy portion sizes that contain nutrient-dense foods, our kidneys are able to function properly. When we overeat or consume processed foods, our kidneys work overtime to remove the excess waste and fluid. Be sure to limit sodium if you are concerned about overworking your kidneys.
- Exercise Regularly – Exercise is great for your health, so it’s no surprise that regular exercise – even mild 30-minute walks- can improve your kidney function. Staying active helps to keep blood pressure in a healthy range and your body at a healthy weight, both of which relieve stress on your kidneys.
- Manage Stress – Stress and uncontrolled reactions to stress can lead to kidney damage. High blood pressure and high blood sugar put a strain on your kidneys that can cause damage over time. Try to get enough sleep, eat well, reduce stressful triggers, and speak with your physician about support in lowering your stress levels.
- Quit Smoking – Cigarettes are harmful to every part of your body- and kidneys are no exception. Smoking slows the blood flow to your organs and can exacerbate existing kidney problems or cause new ones. One of the best things you can do for your overall health is to kick the smoking habit once and for all. Curious about how to start? Speak with your doctor, and we can help you on your journey!
- Know the Risks – Just like many health conditions, some kidney disease cases are genetic. Patients that have diabetes, high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases such as lupus, heart disease, or a family history of kidney disease are more likely to develop CKD. Pregnancy can also be a cause of sudden loss of kidney function. Speak with your doctor to learn more about how your medical history impacts your kidney health.
If you have concerns about the condition or function of your kidneys, please schedule an appointment to speak with your physician. We can help you take the appropriate steps to keep your kidneys healthy.