Do you know what your kidneys do for you? You know, those bean shaped organs in your lower back area? They are a pretty important part of our anatomy since they assist in flushing out toxins and excess water from the blood, assist in controlling blood pressure, make red blood cells and urine, and assist in maintaining potassium and sodium levels in the body, as well as keeping the body's chemical balances in check.
March 9th is World Kidney Day, which is a campaign to raise education and awareness of the kidneys (and the diseases that affect them). WKD started in 2006 with each year having a new theme, this year being kidney disease and obesity.
Obesity affects more than 600 million people across the globe. Kidney disease and diabetes are more likely to develop in those who are obese, among many other issues such as joint problems, high blood pressure (which can lead to kidney damage), fatty liver, cardio-vascular issues, increased risk of cancers, and a poor quality of life. Individuals who are overweight have a higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease, as well as end-stage renal disease which usually requires dialysis.
The good news: obesity can be prevented, or reversed, with healthy lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise.
What can you do?
- Get your kidneys checked if your doctor considers you "high risk" such as:
- You are diabetic
- You are hypertensive
- You are obese
- You have a family history of kidney disease
- Stay active
- Walking, swimming, weight lifting, biking, yoga
- Staying active reduces blood pressure which can increase the risk of kidney issues, as well as stress
- Keep your blood sugars in check
- Those with diabetes can develop kidney damage. This can be prevented with regular checks of your blood sugar, along with the help of your doctor
- Monitor your blood pressure
- A "normal" blood pressure is about 120/80, but people vary. If your blood pressure is regularly 140/90 and above, talk with your doctor, as numbers this high can put you at risk for not only kidney damage, but stroke and heart attack
- Eat healthy and maintain a healthy weight
- Decrease the amount of salt you may add to your food, and try to cut out processed foods. Try using a variety of spices and cooking at home with fresh ingredients. Meal prepping can help avoid going out to eat, and encourage eating healthier choices
- Maintain healthy fluid intake
- The "traditional wisdom" we usually hear it to drink 1.5-2L of water per day, but there is also the chance of drinking too much water which can cause issues in the body as well. Check with your doctor if you have questions on how much water you should have daily
- Drinking fluids (not soda, coffee, alcohol, sugary juices/teas, etc.) assist in flushing the sodium and toxins out of the body that build up throughout the day
Be kind to your kidneys, and all of your organs, to keep yourself healthy and happy.
Visit www.worldkidneyday.org for more information!