Fitness Facts: How to Take Care of Your Kidneys

Fitness Facts: How to Take Care of Your Kidneys

By Connie Colbert
GCU Director of Health Services

March is National Kidney Month. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, an estimated 37 million people in the United States have chronic kidney disease (CKD). Up to 9 out of 10 people are do not aware that they have an MRC.

For these reasons, it’s important to take care of your kidneys, especially if you’re at risk for kidney disease.

Connie Colbert

The kidneys are essential for the proper functioning of our body. They remove waste and extra fluids from your body. They remove acid produced by your body’s cells to help maintain a healthy balance of water, salts and minerals in your blood.

The kidneys also perform vital functions that control red blood cell production and blood pressure and activate vitamin D for healthy bones. But over time, the kidneys can become damaged with little or no physical symptoms to warn you that your kidneys are in trouble.

If your kidneys aren’t working properly, it can lead to:

  • Heart disease
  • nerve damage
  • weak bones
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Anemia

There are a few simple things people can do to keep their kidneys healthy and strong.

Ask your doctor for an AAlbumin/creatinine ratio (ACR) urine test or glomerular filtration rate (GFR) blood test annualespecially if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, are over 60, or have a family history of kidney failure.

Reduce your intake of NSAIDs. NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers, many of which are well known, that can relieve your pain, but they can damage the kidneys, especially if you already have kidney disease. Reduce your regular use of NSAIDs and never exceed the recommended dose. Some NSAIDs are listed below:

  • ibuprofen
  • naproxen
  • diclofenac
  • celecoxib
  • mefenamic acid
  • etoricoxib
  • indomethacin

Cut out processed foods. Processed foods can be high sources of sodium, nitrates and phosphates and have been linked to cancer, heart disease and kidney disease. Try adopting the DASH diet to guide your healthy eating habits. It is a diet low in salt and sodium. To learn more, click here.

Regular exercise. Your kidneys love it when you exercise. Regular exercise will keep your bones, muscles, blood vessels, heart and kidneys healthy. Being active for at least 30 minutes a day can also help you control blood pressure and lower blood sugar, which is essential for kidney health.

Stay well hydrated. Staying well hydrated helps your kidneys eliminate sodium, urea, and toxins from the body. Drinking plenty of water and avoiding sugary drinks is also one of the best ways to avoid painful kidney stones. People with kidney problems or kidney failure may need to limit their fluid intake, but for most people, drinking 1.5 to 2 liters (3 to 4 pints) of water a day is a healthy goal. .

How do I know if I am at risk?

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease. Over time, high blood sugar damages the inside of your kidneys. If you have diabetes, controlling your sugar levels is especially important to prevent this damage.

Other factors include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Disease of the heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular)
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Be African American, Native American, or Asian American
  • Family history of kidney disease
  • 60 and over
  • Abnormal renal structure

Signs of kidney disease:

  • Tired
  • Itchy, dry skin
  • Swelling of the hands, legs, feet or abdomen
  • Lower back pain
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Bags around your eyes
  • Blood in your urine
  • Changes in urination, urinating more often, or foamy or bubbly urine
  • High blood pressure

Learn more about your risk by clicking here.

If you are at risk for kidney disease or have symptoms, don’t wait! See a healthcare professional as soon as possible. Early treatment is the key to permanent damage.