The kidneys are the organs responsible for filtering waste products, excess water, and other impurities from your blood. These waste products are stored in the bladder and later expelled through urine. The kidneys regulate pH, salt, and potassium levels in the body and also produce hormones that regulate blood pressure and control the production of red blood cells.
Importantly, the kidneys are also responsible for activating a form of vitamin D that helps your body absorb calcium.
Maintaining kidney health is important to your overall health; by keeping your kidneys healthy, your body will filter and expel waste and produce hormones to help your body function properly.
Keep healthy and active
Regular exercise is good for endless reasons, one of the many benefits of keeping active is that It can lower the risk of kidney disease. It can also reduce your blood pressure and boost your heart health, which are both important in preventing kidney damage.
You don’t have to be an athlete or do massive amounts of strenuous exercise to reap the benefits- walking, running, cycling, dancing or any other type of physical activity you enjoy are all beneficial to your health.
People with diabetes, or a condition that causes high blood sugar, may develop kidney damage. When the body’s cells can’t use the glucose in your blood, your kidneys are forced to work extra hard to filter it. Over years of exertion, this can lead to life-threatening damage. However, if you can control your blood sugar, you reduce the risk of damage and/or if the damage is caught early, there is more chance of preventing serious damage.
High blood pressure can cause kidney damage. If high blood pressure occurs with other health issues like diabetes, heart disease, or high cholesterol, the impact on your body can be significant.
Weight and diet
People who are overweight or obese are at risk for several health conditions that can damage the kidneys. These include diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease. A healthy diet that is low in sodium, processed meats, and foods high in saturated fats may help reduce the risk of kidney damage. Focus on eating fresh ingredients that are naturally low-sodium, such as cauliflower, blueberries, fish, whole grains, and more.
Drink plenty of fluids
We have heard it all before, drink eight glasses or water a day, but this is not just empty advice. Regular water intake is healthy for your kidneys and the health of all our other organs. Water helps clear sodium and toxins from your kidneys. It also lowers your risk of chronic kidney disease. People who have previously had kidney stones should drink more water to help prevent stone deposits in the future.
Smoking damages your body’s blood vessels. This leads to slower blood flow throughout your body and to your kidneys. Smoking also puts your kidneys at an increased risk for cancer. If you stop smoking, your risk will drop. However, it’ll take many years to return to the risk level of a person who’s never smoked.
Kidney disease risk factors
- people who are over 60 years old
- people who were born at a low birth weight
- people who have cardiovascular disease or have family with it
- people who have or have a family history of high blood pressure
- people who are obese
- people who believe they may have kidney damage
A regular kidney function test is a great way to know your kidney’s health and to check for possible changes. Getting ahead of any damage can help slow or prevent future damage.
Types of kidney disease
Chronic kidney disease
The most common form of kidney disease is chronic kidney disease. A major cause of chronic kidney disease is high blood pressure. Because your kidneys are constantly processing your body’s blood, they’re exposed to about 20 percent of your total volume of blood every minute.
High blood pressure is dangerous for your kidneys because it can lead to increased pressure on the glomeruli, the functional units of your kidney. In time, this high pressure compromises the filtering apparatus of your kidneys and their functioning declines.
Eventually, kidney function will deteriorate to the point where they can no longer properly perform their job, and you’ll have to go on dialysis. Dialysis filters fluid and wastes out of your blood, but it isn’t a long-term solution. Eventually, you may need a kidney transplant, but it depends on your particular circumstance.
Diabetes is another major cause of chronic kidney disease. Over time, uncontrolled blood sugar levels will damage the functional units of your kidney, also leading to kidney failure.
Another common kidney problem is kidney stones. Minerals and other substances in your blood may crystallize in the kidneys, forming solid particles, or stones, that usually pass out of your body in urine.
Passing kidney stones can be extremely painful, but rarely causes significant problems.
Urinary tract infections
Urinary tract infections are bacterial infections of any of the parts of your urinary system. Infections in the bladder and urethra are most common. They’re generally easily treatable and have few, if any, long-term consequences however, if left untreated, these infections can spread to the kidneys and lead to kidney failure.
Preventative health measures for the health of your kidneys
- Minimise your exposure to risk factors
- Remain completely in the know about the health of your body
- Undergo preventative health assessments
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