Are you currently enjoying good kidney health? Do you want it to stay that way? Then now is the time to take action to prevent common diseases that harm kidneys. The best approach begins with having a healthy body necessary for good kidney functioning. If your overall health is suffering, then your kidney function suffers too.
You may ask why kidney health so important? What exactly do the kidneys do?
Healthy, functioning kidneys are vital for:
- Removing built-up waste products and drugs from the body each day.
- Balancing body fluids.
- Releasing hormones that regulate blood pressure.
- Producing the active form of vitamin D promoting strong, healthy bones.
- Controlling red blood cell production.
What about diseases affecting kidney health? What concern should I be aware of?
Here are examples of kidney diseases that can significantly harm kidney health, reducing their ability to perform their jobs:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Kidney stones
- Urinary tract infections
Unfortunately, one in three Americans are at risk of developing kidney disease. Often these diseases can be attributed to risk factors such as having high blood pressure or diabetes. Even if you currently enjoy good health, optimizing kidney health every day at every stage of life is important.
Your kidneys will have an easier time staying healthy when you stay healthy. That means living a kidney-friendly lifestyle. Here’s what you can do preserve, protect, and keep your kidney’s future functioning healthy:
- Keep hydrated. Hydration is essential for keeping kidneys healthy. Every day, drink sufficient fluid to prevent dehydration resulting in kidney stones and kidney disease. The best fluid for staying hydrated is water. Instead of drinking full glasses of water at once, try drinking a few sips at a time throughout the day. A sign of dehydration is what color your urine is. It should be a very pale yellow; dark, concentrated urine may indicate dehydration. The recommendation is that women drink about eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day, and men consume about ten 8-ounce glasses daily.
- Daily, eat healthy foods. Start by stocking a kidney-friendly kitchen. Then, keep healthy foods and snacks on hand by filling your grocery cart with fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, salmon, tuna, poultry, lean red meat, and whole grains. At every meal, have a fruit and/or vegetable. Avoid foods high in sodium such as canned, boxed, or bagged foods, TV dinners, and fast food.
- Have a regular, consistent exercise routine. The best way to reach and maintain a healthy body weight is to exercise. Physical activity helps stave off high blood pressure and diabetes, both harmful to your kidneys. The movement also promotes good blood circulation, improves muscle function, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol and improves sleep.
- Avoid excessive use of supplements and herbal extracts. Using supplements or herbal extracts liberally is not recommended for kidney health and functioning. Supplements, like vitamins, minerals, and herbal products (e.g., ginkgo, juniper berries, blue cohash), are not regulated by the FDA. Without regulation, these supplements’ safety, purity, and effectiveness are unknown. Contamination from heavy metals like lead or mercury is another concern. Some herbs may act as a diuretic leading to kidney irritation or damage. Others can interact with prescription medications putting kidney health at risk. Always talk to your doctor before taking supplements or herbal products, especially if you already have kidney disease.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking indirectly affects the kidneys by damaging blood vessels, leading to these organs reducing blood flow within the kidneys. Without adequate blood flow, the kidneys are unable to function properly. In addition, smoking is well known for increasing risk of hypertension and raising the risk of kidney cancer.
- Minimize over-the-counter medication use. Likely you have nonprescription medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen (NSAIDS) in your home. There should be minimal problems affecting kidney health if you have healthy kidneys when taken occasionally. However, if your kidney functioning is compromised or you are taking these drugs routinely for pain or arthritis, ask your doctor what a safe dosage is and monitor your kidney functioning.
- If at risk, screen kidney function routinely. Anyone with diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease should be screened routinely for kidney functioning. Finding kidney problems early on will help slow down damage when you receive routine care of the condition.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncolo gy and prostate cancer 911.