Kidney Health 101: What You Need to Know to Keep Them Healthy
April 29, 2020
All of the organs in our body have functions that help us thrive. Each one has a job to do, and what we eat and our lifestyle can sometimes determine how well it does its job. One of the most important organs we have is the kidneys. They are both located against the back muscles in the upper abdominal area. One of their main roles is to act as a filter for the body. They are important because they:
- Help make red blood cells
- Filter blood
- Maintain the right amount of fluids in the body
- Maintain blood pressure
There are some people who are at risk for kidney disease. These people include those that have diabetes, high blood pressure, and a history of kidney disease. This disease can prevent your kidneys from functioning properly. In some cases, if the kidneys cannot filter blood on their own, then patients have to start going to dialysis. This process helps remove waste, extra water and salt from the body. It also helps keep a safe level of chemicals in your blood, limiting the amount of potassium and sodium you have. This helps control your blood pressure.
If you think you are at risk for kidney disease, then you should ask your doctor if you should get screened for it regularly.
How to protect your kidneys
There are a number of ways you can take steps right now to prevent kidney disease in the future. According to the National Kidney Foundation, some ways to protect your kidneys are by losing weight (if needed), get regular exercise, limit alcohol, don’t smoke, and eat healthy meals.
Taking too much Advil or ibuprofen, available over the counter, can cause kidney damage. Specifically, taking ibuprofen every day and multiple times a day every day (longer than 10 days or more) can cause damage to the kidneys.
Another thing that can cause kidney damage is rhabdomyolysis. This used to occur only in conjunction with illicit drug use, like cocaine. However, with the rise of exercise classes like Gladiator and CrossFit, the incidence of rhabdomyolysis in otherwise healthy patients is on the rise. Symptoms include severe muscle soreness, dark urine, and muscles that are red or warm to the touch. Evaluation with a blood and urine test is needed to rule this out. Often, patients are admitted to watch the kidney function and administer ample intravenous fluids.
Foods that boost kidney health
If you’re looking to boost your kidney health, then you should incorporate these foods into your daily diet. However, these foods are not for people that have been diagnosed with kidney disease or those that are on dialysis. These people should get advice from a professional doctor or dietician.
- Salmon: A good source of protein and Omega-3 fatty acids.
- Tuna: Perfect for boosting your protein levels.
- Sweet potatoes: They contain potassium which can help balance the sodium levels in the body resulting in less strain for the kidneys.
- Dark leafy greens: They contain a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
- Berries (Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc.): High in antioxidants, berries can protect the cells in your body and they can help satisfy your sweet tooth.
Remember that your kidneys are vital for your health. Try to take care of them by eating the right foods and living a healthy lifestyle. If you are at risk for kidney disease or want to discuss your kidney function, your Ascension Network doctor is a great resource for more information.