During the month of March, Durham Nephrology is joining communities around the country to raise awareness about kidney health for National Kidney Month. This initiative is in partnership with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) due to the link between high blood pressure and kidney disease.
Most of the time we aren’t thinking about our kidneys until something goes wrong. You can easily prevent an array of chronic health conditions and complications by understanding how your kidneys affect your entire body and how you can keep kidneys healthy.
Importance of Kidney Health
The kidneys, located at the bottom of the rib cage, are an important part of managing the fluids in our body. When you eat or drink liquids, the fluid is eventually filtered through the kidneys from the blood and excreted into the urine. In addition, kidneys are an important part of regulating pH, salt, and potassium and producing hormones that regulate blood pressure.
Unhealthy habits, like being overweight, can cause the kidneys to work harder than normal and severely affect a person’s quality of life. Over time, the extra work can cause kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and a variety of chronic conditions. Continuing along this path could cause the kidneys to shut down altogether. Once that happens, people may experience weak bones, nerve damage, and malnutrition. Other complications include anemia and heart failure.
Unfortunately, kidney disease isn’t rare and is the ninth leading cause of death in the U.S. Kidney disease affects an estimated 37 million adults in the United States. This is why keeping your kidneys healthy is critical for everyone.
Everyday Habits to Keep Kidneys Healthy
Healthy habits for your kidneys are also healthy habits for your overall health. Below are a few things you can do to keep kidneys healthy.
- Maintain ideal body weight. Start by calculating your BMI by using a BMI calculator. If your BMI is between 25-29.9, you are overweight. If your BMI is over 30, this is considered obese. If your BMI is high, work with your doctor to set nutrition and physical activity goals.
- Commit to staying active. Set a workout goal of at least 30 minutes a day for at least 3 days a week. Make sure your workouts are moving major muscle groups in your body (i.e. arms, legs).
- Reduce your salt intake. Almost everything we eat contains salt. By limiting the amount of processed and restaurant foods, you can significantly reduce your salt intake. Shop for low-salt or no-salt grocery items and add more fresh ingredients to your cooking.
- Control your blood sugar. The precursor to kidney disease is diabetes. Unfortunately, about half of the people who have diabetes don’t know it. If you regularly check your blood sugar, you can prevent kidney damage by keeping your diabetes in control.
- Control your blood pressure. Just like diabetes, high blood pressure is the precursor to kidney disease. Work to maintain blood pressure below 140/90.
- Maintain your fluid levels. The kidneys manage all of our fluid intakes. Therefore, managing your fluid intake helps your kidneys manage their filtration process. This normally means drinking 8 cups of water a day for a healthy person. This will need to be adjusted by a doctor if you have severe conditions.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking slows the flow of blood to your kidneys making it difficult for them to function normally. Smoking also increases your risk of developing kidney cancer.
- Limit over-the-counter anti-inflammatories. If taken regularly, anti-inflammatories can be harmful to the kidneys.
Beginning a daily regimen can prevent a host of chronic conditions and keep kidneys healthy. However, if you feel you are experiencing symptoms or have high-risk factors, please call us today to get your kidneys checked. High-risk factors include:
- High blood pressure
- Family history of kidney disease
At Durham Nephrology Associates, we understand that kidney health and your overall health go hand in hand. That’s why we specialize in treating patients with chronic conditions as well as those with kidney disease. If you want to take steps to improve both your kidney health, call 919-477-3005 to make an appointment at our Durham office or 919-690-1035 to make an appointment at our Oxford office. You can also request an appointment online.