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How To (And Why You Should) Love Your Kidneys

KidneysUntil they start malfunctioning, most people don’t think twice about these two fantastic fist-sized organs that are responsible for so many important functions.  We certainly don’t think about kidney health on a daily basis, but if you have certain medical conditions like diabetes and hypertension (HTN), which put you at a higher risk for developing kidney disease, you should be working to ensure their health and longevity.

One way to help insure your kidney longevity is through a healthful diet.  A diet low in sodium and rich in fruits, vegetables, low fat diary, lean protein sources, and whole grains is most healthful.  A well-balanced diet and adequate physical activity can help you manage chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

Did you know that the kidneys are the body’s septic system, cleaning waste and medications/drugs, while also balancing our body’s fluids, releasing hormones that regulate our blood pressure, and activating vitamin D to help us have strong bones?  Do you love your kidneys now? Do you want to know what you can do to protect them? Yes you do.

Causes of Kidney Disease

There are several causes of kidney disease. Some are congenital, meaning you are born with them. Some are acquired, meaning you develop them later in life from disease, medication, or other factors. As mentioned above, the major causes of kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure (hypertension).

If you have hypertension, do you regularly check your blood pressure? Do you eat a low sodium diet? Do you go for regular doctor check-ups? Hypertension is called a silent killer because there are often no signs and symptoms until it’s out of control. At this point, you may already have damaged your kidneys.

If you have diabetes, good glycemic control is essential. Diabetes can be well controlled through diet, exercise, and medication. Uncontrolled diabetes can damage your kidneys. If you have diabetes, monitoring your hemoglobin A1c is an important way to monitor your health.

What Can You Do to Maintain Healthy Kidneys?

Become educated on sodium and where it hides. And throw out the salt shaker. 1 tsp of table salt contains 2300 mg of sodium! This is more than you should eat in the entire day.  According to The American Heart Association, everyone should lower their sodium intake to 1500 mg per day

Other ways to love your kidneys and to help prevent or slow the development of kidney disease:

  • quit smoking if you are a smoker
  • lose weight if you are overweight or obese
  • if you drink alcohol, do so in moderation (1 drink/day for women and 1-2 for men)
  • know how and if the medications you take affect your kidneys

What Happens if Your Kidneys Fail?

Changing your lifestyle can help you save your kidneys. When your kidneys fail, the only treatment is dialysis and the only cure is a kidney transplant.

So show your kidneys some love by treating your whole body well. Eat right, exercise, visit your doctor for check-ups, and visit your registered dietitian at Lifestyle Medical Center who will help you to develop a meal plan that will help keep you, and your kidneys, happy and healthy.

For more information, visit The National Kidney Foundation

To test your sodium knowledge, take this quiz from the American Heart Association.

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