5 Ways to help keep your kidneys healthy
Our kidneys play a critical role in keeping us healthy – they remove wastes, toxins, and extra water from the body; they regulate pH, salt, and potassium levels, they produce hormones that regulate blood pressure and control the production of red blood cells, and they activate a form of vitamin D that helps our body absorb calcium.
The kidney expels waste through the urine. When the kidneys are damaged, though, the blood isn’t filtered properly, which can cause a build-up of waste in your body, as well as other problems that can harm your health. Conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or a family history of kidney failure, can put you at risk for kidney disease, so maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key to optimum kidney function.
To ensure that your kidneys function perfectly for your lifetime, here are 5 ways to keep your kidneys healthy:
Water helps clear salt and toxins from your kidneys. Data suggests that drinking about two litres of water per day reduces kidney stone formation in people with a history of kidney stones. However, how much fluid your body needs actually depends on your body weight (bigger people need more water), the temperature (you need more water when it’s hot as you lose water by sweating), and how active you are (if you’re sweating more due to intense exercise, you need more water).
Most kidney problems stem from high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, so keep a check on your blood pressure. A normal blood pressure reading is 120/80, and pre-hypertension is from 120 – 139/89. If you have these conditions, they have to be properly managed – with medication and lifestyle factors such as exercise and diet – to prevent kidney damage.
Healthy kidneys need a healthy body. To prevent and manage high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, watch your eating habits. Focus on eating fresh ingredients and low-salt foods. For a list of foods, recipes and healthy-cooking tips, check out our award-winning recipe booklet series, Cooking from the Heart DASH Edition.
Smoking damages the blood vessels, which decreases the flow of blood in the kidneys, causing the kidneys not to function properly. Smoking also increases the risk of high blood pressure.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen can cause kidney damage if taken regularly, over the long term. If you’re using it for a short period, occasionally, they don’t pose a risk. Speak to your doctor about taking long-term pain medication for conditions such as chronic pain, migraine or arthritis.
1. Cleveland Clinic. (2019). 7 Secrets to Keeping Your Kidneys Healthy. Cleveland Clinic [Online]. Accessed on 14 February 2023. Available from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/7-secrets-to-keeping-your-kidneys-healthy-2/
2. Goldman, L. (2023). 8 Ways to Keep Your Kidneys Healthy. Healthline [Online]. Accessed on 14 February 2023. Available from https://www.healthline.com/health/kidney-health
3. Hew-Btiler, T. (2021). Do you really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day? An exercise scientist explains why your kidneys say ‘no’. The Conversation [Online]. Accessed on 16 February 2023. Available from https://theconversation.com/do-you-really-need-to-drink-8-glasses-of-water-a-day-an-exercise-scientist-explains-why-your-kidneys-say-no-159020
4. Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Chronic Kidney Disease. Johns Hopkins [Online]. Accessed on 14 February 2023. Available from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/chronic-kidney-disease