You can do a number of things to keep your kidneys functioning properly and keep them as healthy as possible. Following these four simple steps to healthy kidneys will cause a trickle affect, leaving your whole body healthier.
1. Stay hydrated
While many believe the rule of thumb for water is a uniform eight glasses per day, every one is different. It may be best to determine water intake by halving your body weight and drinking that number of ounces per day.
- If you’re not sure that this number is right for you pay attention to your urine. Healthy urine should be pale yellow or colorless, if your urine is dark you may be dehydrated.
2. Fuel your body with healthy foods
Our body is only as healthy as the foods we put into it! Think of food as fuel for your body, fruits and veggies are full of all the great nutrients you need to stay energized.
- Apples: Apples are a good source of pectin, a soluble fiber that can lower cholesterol and glucose levels. The peel is a significant source of antioxidants, including one called quercetin, which is thought to protect brain cells. Fresh apples are also a good source of Vitamin C.
- Blueberries: Ranked #1 among fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables in antioxidant power, blueberries are a low-calorie source of fiber and Vitamin C. They are being studied for their potential to protect against cancer and heart disease and for possible brain health benefits.
- Fish: Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients our body cannot make, so we must get them through the foods we eat. Salmon is a favorite “go-to” source of omega–3 fatty acids, but you can also consider mackerel, albacore tuna, herring and sardines.
- Kale: This green superfood is packed with Vitamins A and C, calcium and many other important minerals. Kale is also a serious source of carotenoids and flavonoids, which may translate to super eye health and anti-cancer benefits.
- Strawberries: This delicious red fruit is a powerhouse of vitamins, antioxidants and fiber.
- Spinach: This leafy green vegetable is high in vitamins A, C, K and folate. The beta-carotene found in spinach is important for boosting your immune system health and protecting your vision. It is also a good source of magnesium.
- Sweet Potatoes: These super spuds are packed with beta-carotene and are an excellent source of vitamins A and C. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of vitamin B-6 and potassium.
3. Exercise regularly
Just as important as eating the right food, our body needs exercise to ward off weight gain and high blood pressure. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the thought of exercise if it’s not already a part of your daily routine but don’t think of it as a chore. The CDC recommends fitting in at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week, which is about the amount of time it takes to watch a movie. Split that time up over a few days and getting your exercise should be simple!
4. Be mindful when taking over-the-counter medicines
Common non-prescription pills like ibuprofen and naproxen (NSAIDS) may cause kidney damage if taken too regularly over a prolonged period. It’s not likely to cause harm if you have healthy kidneys and use these medicines for occasional pain; but if you take them regularly, you should talk to your doctor about monitoring your kidney function.
The affects NSAIDS can have on your kidneys may be worsened if taken with diuretics (“water pills”), ACE inhibitors, or caffeine.
NSAIDS include over-the-counter painkillers like aspirin (Ascriptin®, Bayer® and Ecotrin®), ibuprofen (Advil®, and Motrin®), and naproxen (Aleve®).
They also include prescription drugs like:
- Naproxen sodium (Anaprox®)
- Celecoxib (Celebrex®)
- Sulindac (Clinoril®)
- Oxaprozin (Daypro®)
- Salsalate (Disalcid®)
- Diflunisal (Dolobid®)
- Piroxicam (Feldene®)
- Indomethacin (Indocin®)
- Etodolac (Lodine®)
- Meloxicam (Mobic®)
- Naproxen (Naprosyn®)
- Nabumetone (Relafen®)
- Ketorolac tromethamine (Toradol®)
- Naproxen/esomeprazole (Vimovo®)
- Diclofenac (Voltaren®)
Often, your kidneys are affected by other medical conditions. The most important thing you can do to keep your kidneys safe is to take care of your body to reduce your chances of developing diseases that put a strain on your kidneys.
If you have one of these health conditions, or if you or your family has a history of kidney problems, it’s important to have your kidneys checked once a year:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol
Even if you don’t have these conditions, a yearly check-up with blood pressure check, lab and urine tests is the only clear way to get a picture of your kidney function.