According to the National Kidney Foundation, 1 in 3 people are at risk of kidney disease, so it makes sense that we all take steps towards keeping these crucial organs healthy in every sense of the word . Still, there are small everyday habits that many of us are guilty of that can do more harm than good to our kidneys; think processed foods, an out-of-whack sleep schedule, and sitting still for long periods of time. Fortunately, these habits are just that - habits, and there are plenty of steps we can take to keep our kidneys in good shape, including:
- Drinking enough water
- Following a healthy and balanced diet
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Don’t smoke
- Stick to a healthy weight
Related article: What is Normal Kidney Function and Should you get it Checked?
The best ways to keep kidneys healthy
It’s probably safe to presume that many of us know the two primary functions of the kidneys: removing waste products and any excess fluids from the body. But that’s not all our kidneys are responsible for, these two bean-shaped organs also work to maintain a healthy balance of water, salts, and minerals in our blood and create hormones to control blood pressure and make red blood cells.
The point is, our kidneys are crucial in keeping our bodies functioning the way they should, which is why it’s important to know more about some of the small lifestyle changes you can make to help keep your kidneys healthy.
Related article: How to Tell if You Have a Kidney Infection: Symptoms and Signs
Drinking enough water
Around 50-70% of our body weight is made up of water so it may come as no surprise that our bodies need it to survive. In terms of kidney health, water is crucial when it comes to helping our kidneys remove wastes from the blood in the form of urine. A lack of water can make it difficult for your kidneys to carry out their normal functions and according to The National Kidney Foundation, severe dehydration can lead to kidney damage .
While the recommended amount of water per person can differ as a result of a number of factors, the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine suggests about 3.7 liters of fluids per day for men and 2.7 liters of fluids a day for women .
A healthy and balanced diet
Following a healthy and balanced diet is the key to ensuring you get all the vitamins and minerals you need in order to keep your body healthy and functioning. This means following a diet that includes plenty of fruit, vegetables, and healthy grains and cutting down on salty, fatty, or processed foods.
Related article: Kidney-Friendly Foods: Healthy Foods for People With Kidney Disease
Alcohol in moderation
Do you know that dehydrated feeling you get after an alcoholic beverage or two? That’s the alcohol essentially ‘drying out’ your body. This can affect the normal function of your cells and organs - including your kidneys, so the next time you’re having a drink, be sure to drink enough water alongside it to avoid becoming dehydrated.
As well as this, according to the National Kidney Foundation, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can double your risk of kidney disease which is why it’s always important, if you do drink, to only drink in moderation .
If you are a smoker, it’s important to consider quitting. In the context of your kidneys, smoking can increase your risk of developing kidney cancers and can even slow the blood flow to the pair. And in the context of your entire body, it’s not surprising to hear that smoking causes harm to nearly every one of your organs - estimates suggest more than 16 million Americans are living with some form of disease caused by smoking .
Of course, nobody said quitting is easy, but if you’re looking for some motivation, check out the positive effects of quitting smoking in the hours, days, weeks, and months following your last cigarette in our blog post here.
Stick to a healthy weight
One of the leading causes of kidney disease is high blood pressure and diabetes; both of which are often a result of being overweight or obese. Being overweight can have a direct impact on your kidneys too though, as extra weight can force the kidneys to work harder and filter more waste than normal.
Making simple lifestyle changes such as incorporating more exercise into your everyday routine and trying out some healthy and balanced recipes will help you stick to a healthy weight. If you’re not sure where to start, why not reach out to your healthcare provider for advice!
Related article: Can Medication Damage Your Kidneys?
One of the most reliable ways to keep an eye on your kidney health is through regular testing; this can be done with your doctor or if you would prefer, from the comfort of home with an at-home lab test.
LetsGetChecked’s Kidney Function Test allows you to monitor your kidney function and performance. Online results will be available within 2-5 days and our dedicated clinical team will be available to answer any questions you may have throughout the process.
You should consider taking a Kidney Function Test if any of the below are applicable to you:
- You suffer from high blood pressure
- You suffer from diabetes
- You have suffered an acute injury
- You have persistent urinary tract infections
- You have kidney disease or a family history of one
- You have kidney stones or a family history of them
- You have a high protein diet
- You have been taking performance-enhancing drugs
Related article: How do you Check Your Kidney Function From Home?
- The National Kidney Foundation. Kidney Disease: The Basics. Online: Kidney.org
- The National Kidney Foundation. 6 Tips To Be “Water Wise” for Healthy Kidneys. Online: Kidney.org
- Mayo Clinic. Water: How Much Should You Drink Everyday? Online: Mayoclinic.org
- The National Kidney Foundation. Alcohol and Your Kidneys. Online: Kidney.org
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking and Tobacco Use. Online: Cdc.gov