Most individuals are certain they know how vital their brain, heart, and lungs are, but how many know how important their kidneys are? Before my kidney disease journey began, the only time that I thought about my kidneys were when I felt dehydrated and cramping. I was aware that they were necessary, however, I had no idea what life would be like if they ceased to function.
Since March is National Kidney Month, let’s go over what you should know about your kidneys.
How do kidneys work?
Here is a visual explanation of what kidneys are and how they function.
Why are kidneys important?
Kidneys are some powerful little suckers, right? Not only are kidneys responsible for removing waste from our bodies, but they are responsible for regulating our body’s salt, potassium, and acid content.
As stated on The National Kidney Foundation’s website,
The kidneys are powerful chemical factories that perform the following functions:
- remove waste products from the body
- remove drugs from the body
- balance the body’s fluids
- release hormones that regulate blood pressure
- produce an active form of vitamin D that promotes strong, healthy bones
- control red blood cell production
How do I take care of my kidneys?
Are your kidneys fully functioning (you can live well with just one, by the way)? Great! The question that I receive the most after educating others about kidney disease is, “What can I do to take care of my kidneys?”
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website recommends these tips:
- Keep your blood pressure at the target set by your health care provider. For most people, the blood pressure target is less than 140/90 mm Hg. This can delay or prevent kidney failure.
- If you have diabetes, control your blood glucose level.
- Keep your cholesterol levels in the target range.
- Take medicines the way your provider tells you to. (Important! Certain blood pressure medicines called ACE inhibitors and ARBs may protect your kidneys. Ask your health care provider for more information.)
- Cut back on salt. Aim for less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day.
- Choose foods that are healthy for your heart: fresh fruits, fresh or frozen vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods.
- Limit your alcohol intake.
- Be more physically active.
- Lose weight if you are overweight.
- If you smoke, take steps to quit. Cigarette smoking can make kidney damage worse.
As always, please discuss with your primary care provider before trying any supplements or drinks that claim to cleanse, heal, or detox the kidneys.
Share this resource with your friends and family to spread awareness during National Kidney Month!