Your kidneys are wellness powerhouses that work day and night to keep your body healthy.
Constantly filtering and cleansing your blood, your kidneys eliminate waste and excess fluid from your body in the form of urine. While the process sounds simple, it actually involves many intricate steps.
Kidneys regulate salt, potassium, and acid in your body. They also produce hormones which influence how other systems in your body work. For example, kidneys release hormones that control blood pressure and red blood cell production.
Well-functioning kidneys keep your whole body healthier. Unfortunately, these amazing organs are also prone to diseases, which are often caused by other health issues. Diabetes is the number-one cause of chronic kidney disease, though high blood pressure, congenital disorders, and other chronic conditions can also be contributing factors.
In honor of National Kidney Month this March, here are some simple lifestyle changes you can make to promote your kidney health.
1. Control Diabetes
Diabetes damages small blood vessels throughout the body. When this happens, kidneys struggle to filter your blood properly.
Poorly controlled diabetes leads to more blood vessel damage, and more kidney problems. When you manage your diabetes well, you can minimize this damage and preserve the ability of your kidneys to keep you healthy.
If you’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you can protect your kidney health by controlling your blood sugar levels with daily monitoring and adhering to the diet your doctor recommends.
2. Monitor Blood Pressure
Like diabetes, high blood pressure can damage blood vessels, impeding the kidneys’ ability to filter your blood effectively. This creates a domino effect in which excess fluid builds up in the body, further spiking blood pressure and damaging more blood vessels.
Many practitioners will diagnose patients with high blood pressure (hypertension) if their levels are 130/80 mmHg or higher. If you’re at risk for hypertension or have already been diagnosed, you may be advised to monitor your levels at home. This helps you and your practitioner work together to keep your blood pressure within a healthy range.
Lifestyle changes your doctor recommends to control blood pressure may include losing weight or maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI) through regular exercise and a nutritious diet. Quitting or avoiding smoking and limiting your alcohol intake are also important ways to maintain your blood pressure.
If you think stress could be contributing to your elevated blood pressure levels, practices such as journaling or meditation may help.
Some people need medications to control their blood pressure. Your doctor can advise you on whether medications are necessary for you.
3. Maintain a Healthy Diet
An unhealthy diet is the most significant risk factor for death and disability caused by chronic kidney disease. Certain foods can put added stress on the kidneys, while others can boost their performance.
Many specialists recommend the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet to promote kidney health. This approach lowers the risk of heart disease and is a treatment for both hypertension and kidney disease (though it should not be used for patients on dialysis). It prioritizes nutrient-dense foods, such as fish, poultry, beans, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, while restricting processed foods due to their high sodium and sugar contents.
The healthcare practitioners at LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes are committed to providing comprehensive care to help you manage chronic conditions and lower your risk of kidney disease. To make an appointment with one of our providers, call (336) 593-2831 or learn more about our services online.