How to Keep Your Kidneys Healthy
Here at Satellite Healthcare, we want your kidneys to be as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Did you know that people over 40 lose about 1% of the nephrons that do the filtering work in kidneys every year? However, your kidneys are so amazing that you can survive with only half of one working kidney. If you have been diagnosed with one of the five stages of chronic kidney disease (CKD), it is extremely important to do everything possible to slow progression. The same things that help you slow CKD progression help keep kidneys healthy.
Control Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure (hypertension) wreaks havoc on your kidneys over time. If you have this condition, you should ask your doctor about target ranges to protect your kidneys and what you need to do to reach those targets. Also, do not just rely on one blood pressure reading at your doctor's office as an indicator of reaching target goals. Home blood pressure monitoring is easy to do and gives your doctor a better picture of how you are doing in controlling your blood pressure to prevent or slow progression of kidney disease.
Limit Sodium Intake
It is easier said than done. Practically every processed food contains added sodium. You might be thinking potato chips, but those otherwise healthy canned green beans can contain high levels of sodium too. The only way to really control your salt intake is to read the amount of sodium present in all boxed, bagged, and canned foods and drinks that are part of your diet and adjust accordingly. For example, frozen vegetables without any sauces may be significantly lower in sodium than canned varieties. Shoot for consuming less than 2,300 grams of sodium daily if your kidneys are healthy. It is less if you have CKD. Also, beware of potassium in salt substitutes if you have kidney disease and you are on a renal diet.
There are absolutely zero benefits to smoking. In fact, it results in a net loss. You lose money, put yourself at a much higher risk of all kinds of cancers, and cause blood vessel constriction, which is the last thing your kidneys need. This is even truer if you are in one of the early stages of CKD. Keep in mind that CKD cannot be reversed, but you may be able to go for many years before needing dialysis or a transplant. Compared to all the other organs in your body, your kidneys receive about a fourth of the volume of blood that your heart pumps. Do not put them at risk by submitting them to the blood vessel damage caused by smoking.
Not enough can be said about the benefits of exercise. You do not have to think of marathons or even jogging, unless that is your thing. Instead, think of walking and resistance training to maintain muscle mass. If you already have kidney disease, you want to be careful about strenuous exercise that breaks down muscle fibers as this just adds to the protein load your kidneys are already under. Exercise helps you control your weight, blood pressure and heart rate, and it works to control blood glucose levels in diabetes. These are all beneficial to your kidneys.
Closely Manage Diabetes
One of the main problems that diabetes causes is blood vessel damage. It starts out with microvascular damage, which is damage to the tiny blood vessels in your body. Your kidneys are packed with millions of tiny blood vessels that filter your blood of toxins and produce urine to carry away the waste. Elevated blood glucose increases the likelihood of blood vessel damage over time, which may go unnoticed until significant damage has already occurred. Keeping your blood glucose as close as possible to your target levels set by your healthcare team helps to prevent diabetic nephropathy, which is damage to your kidneys.
The goal of protecting the health of your kidneys is a lifetime one. However, it is something you need to be aware of and take preventative measures every day as well. If you have diabetes, ask about ACE inhibitors and how they may help protect your kidneys. Avoid routine use of over-the-counter NSAID painkillers, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, and seek alternative pain management therapies instead. Do your part to keep your kidneys healthy for life.