March is National Kidney Month and the National Kidney Foundation is calling on all Americans to take five healthy steps for their kidneys.
The kidneys are the body’s chemical factories, filtering waste and performing vital functions that control things like red blood cell production and blood pressure. But over time, the kidneys can become damaged with little or no physical symptoms to warn you that your kidneys are in trouble.
Joseph Vassalotti, MD, National Kidney Foundation Chief Medical Officer says, “There are a few simple things people can do to keep their kidneys healthy and strong.” Read on:
Take 5 for Your Kidneys
All Americans can do 5 simple things to protect their kidneys:
1. Get Tested! Ask your doctor for an Albumin Creatinine Ration urine test or a Glomerular Filtration Rate blood test annually if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, are over age 60 or have a family history of kidney failure. Get screened for free through the National Kidney Foundation’s KEEP Healthy program by visiting www.kidney.org.
- You could help save your kidneys with a simple urine test. Ask your doctor about Albumin Creatinine Ratio (ACR) which estimates the amount of a type of protein, albumin, that is in your urine.
- The Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) tells how well your kidneys are working to remove wastes from your blood. It is the best way to check kidney function. Over 90 is good, 60-89 should be monitored, less than 60 for 3 months indicates kidney disease.
2. Reduce NSAIDs. Over the counter pain medicines, such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), may alleviate your aches and pains, but they can harm the kidneys, especially if you already have kidney disease. Reduce your regular use of NSAIDs and never go over the recommended dosage.
3. Cut Processed Foods. Processed foods can be significant sources of sodium, nitrates and phosphates, and have been linked to cancer, heart disease and kidney disease. Try adopting the DASH diet to guide your healthy eating habits.
4. Exercise Regularly. Your kidneys like it when you exercise. Regular exercise will keep your bones, muscles, blood vessels, heart and kidneys healthy. Getting active for at least 30 minutes a day can also help you control blood pressure and lower blood sugar, which is vital to kidney health.
5. Stay Well Hydrated. Staying well hydrated helps your kidneys clear sodium, urea and toxins from the body. Drinking plenty of water, and avoiding sugary beverages, is also one of the best ways to avoid painful kidney stones. Those with kidney problems or kidney failure may need to restrict their fluid intake, but for most people, drinking 1.5 to 2 liters (3 to 4 pints) of water per day is a healthy target.