March is Kidney awareness month, and you may wonder “why?”. When we think of our bodies and the organs that are vital to their success or failure, we always think of the heart or lungs, but place your hands on your hips and somewhere beneath your thumbs lie the powerhouses of your body, the kidneys.
The kidneys are one of the hardest working organs in your body, filtering waste and performing vital functions such as controlling red blood cell production and blood pressure. In time, they may take a beating and you may not even realize they are in danger until it’s too late.
So, what can you do, today, to start improving the health of your kidneys and prevent further damage?
Here are 5 things you can do at home to boost your kidneys and keep it healthier for longer.
Keep your eyes open
You should be seeing your doctor at least once a year for a check-up, where they will do routine testing and screening to make sure that everything is working as it should be. Your doctor could pick up signs of things like diabetes or high blood pressure, which could place strain on your kidneys but, caught early enough, can be dealt with swiftly.
We live in a fast-paced time of stress and anxiety with deadlines looming, traffic congesting and bosses bossing, so the last thing we need to deal with is something as trivial as a headache, so we pop a pill and life goes on smoothly, right? Wrong. Many over the counter pain medications may have a calm-down-Beyonce effect on your aches and pains, but they are not lemonade to your kidneys. Experts say they may actually harm your kidneys, especially if you have an underlying kidney illness, so reduce the regular use of over-the-counter pain killers and never exceed the recommended dosage.
Here in 2021, even during a global pandemic, our lives seem fast paced. Many people work from home, which means the average person works two hours longer per day than normal, since there is no traffic to contend with. So, convenience, perhaps now more than ever, is key in getting things done, so we turn to quick and processed foods which are delicious and fast. They are also fast on your kidneys. Processed foods are known for containing high levels of sodium (salt), nitrates and phosphates which all have a negative impact on your kidney function. Spend more time and thought on your meals. Read the labels. Your kidneys will thank you.
Get off your butt
Why are you surprised that exercise made the list? It’s logic. You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to be “healthy”. Being physically active for as little as 30 minutes a day can strengthen your bones, blood vessels, muscles, heart and kidneys as well as helping to regulate your blood pressure and blood sugar, both of which are a huge bonus to your kidneys.
We have all heard that we should drink 8 glasses of water a day and we have all rolled our eyes at that. We were all fools. 8 glasses of water should be the minimum for a person of average weight. Water helps your kidneys remove waste from your body in the form of urine. It also keeps your blood vessels open so that blood can travel freely to your kidneys and deliver nutrients to them. And NO…your three cups of coffee do not count. Water and liquid are not the same thing. Be warned, though, you CAN over-hydrate and your kidneys will not be able to get rid of the excess liquid, resulting in the dilution of the sodium content in your blood which is just as dangerous as dehydrating. Find a balance and stick to it.
Craig Stadler is a contributing writer for the Anova Health Institute, and these are his views, which may or may not reflect those of Anova and its affiliates.