As National Kidney Month comes to a close, we’re taking a closer look at Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and how to keep these critical organs in tip-top shape.
You may not spend much time thinking about your kidneys, but they provide numerous vital functions to keep your entire body happy and healthy.
If your kidneys don’t work, you don’t work.
One of our kidneys' main roles is to cleanse the blood of toxins and turn the waste into urine. They also keep fluids in balance, produce vitamins that control growth, regulate mineral balance, release hormones that regulate blood pressure, not to mention a host of other things. Given all that our kidneys do for us, it’s a huge problem when they stop functioning properly. Sadly, for many of us, they do just that.
Chronic Kidney Disease is a heavy hitter. It impacts a staggering 850 million people around the globe.
According to the International Society of Nephrology, that figure is double the number of people with diabetes and 20 times the number of people suffering from cancer worldwide!
People diagnosed with CKD have lasting damage to their kidneys. In severe cases, this can lead to End Stage Kidney Disease, which means the kidneys have stopped working and require dialysis or a kidney transplant for that person to live.
While anyone can get CKD, certain factors increase your risk.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that “approximately 1 of 3 adults with diabetes and 1 of 5 adults with high blood pressure may have CKD.” Additional things that may impact your likelihood of developing Chronic Kidney Disease include having heart disease, having a family history of kidney disease, being 60 years old or older, and being African American, Hispanic, Asian, or Native American.
In light of COVID-19, it’s important to note that the virus poses a risk to our kidney health. According to John’s Hopkins Medicine, “Early reports say that up to 30% of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in China and New York developed moderate or severe kidney injury. Reports from doctors in New York are saying the percentage could be higher.” They go on to say, “The kidney damage is, in some cases, severe enough to require dialysis.”
It’s difficult to catch CKD early on because the most common symptoms tend to appear after irreversible damage has already occurred. For this reason, it’s important to ask your doctor to include blood and urine tests as part of your regular medical checkup. It’s also crucial to do everything you can to protect your kidneys on a day-to-day basis.
For those who don’t currently have CKD, here are 9 ways to keep your kidneys healthy:
- Exercise and stay active.
- Eat a balanced, low-fat, low-sugar, low-salt diet. Think fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meat.
- Maintain your recommended weight.
- If you smoke, quit.
- If you drink alcohol, only do so in moderation.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Get enough sleep.
- Take steps to prevent or manage diabetes and high blood pressure, two leading causes of kidney failure.
- Avoid Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) when possible. Daily use may negatively impact your kidneys.
Bonus tip: Find out if any of your family members have a history of kidney disease. If they do, tell your doctor so you can take steps to monitor your kidney function.
As you may have noticed, doing what’s right for your kidneys looks a lot like doing what’s right for your whole body!
If you’re looking for healthy food tips, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has a wealth of suggestions.
Here are just a few:
- Choose spices over salt when cooking.
- Load up on veggies where you can. For example, if you’re making pizza, add spinach, peppers, and other nutrient-packed options.
- Broil over frying your foods.
- Stick to foods without added sugar.
- Stick with low-fat dairy products.
- Think “whole grains!” Choose whole-grain bread, brown rice, oats, and whole-grain corn.
- Eat foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugars.
Looking to learn more about kidney health? Visit our most recent blog to learn What Should You Know About Renal Cell Carcinoma.
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