The kidneys might not get the same amount of love that other parts of our body do but make no mistake - they are just as important as your heart, lungs, bladder, and colon. That's why we're the National Kidney Foundation asked us to help share some important things that guys need to know about their kidneys during the foundation's annual fundraising campaign.
Why Kidney Health is Important
For me, aside from generally knowing that kidneys were important to filter fluids and the plot line of thieves stealing kidneys from unwary travelers the kidney was "just another organ". However, when I first started on Lipitor kidney health became something more important. Statins and other drugs can help with various conditions but they can also cause damage to organs such as your kidneys. As such, it became important to get regular blood tests to not just test for existing conditions - but also to avoid potential damage from the drugs.
Along with this, I've known several people who have had kidney disease and required dialysis. As someone with a history of diabetes in the family, high blood pressure it's especially important that I take care of my kidneys since I'm already at a higher risk for developing kidney disease than others.
What Do Kidneys Do?
Healthy kidneys do a lot of work to keep the body working properly. This includes regulating the body's fluid levels, filtering wastes and toxins, and releasing hormones that regulate blood pressure and direct production of red blood cells. It also helps activate Vitamin D to maintain healthy bones and keeps blood minerals such as sodium, phosphorus, and potassium in balance.
What Happens When Kidneys Aren't Functioning Due to Chronic Kidney Disease ?
Kidneys that aren't functioning properly due to Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) can cause cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure. It can also lead to weak bones, nerve damage, and anemia. Of course, it can also lead to kidney failure and death.
Who's At Risk For Kidney Disease?
The primary risk factors include: diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and a family history of kidney disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure. Additionally, certain racial groups including African-American, Native American, Hispanic, Asian, and Pacific Islanders have additional risk. Other factors that can cause kidney disease include obesity, prolonged use of painkillers such as ibuprofen and naproxen as well as chronic urinary tract infections can also increase your risk.
How To Recognize Potential Kidney Disease Symptoms?
Unfortunately, most people with early phase kidney disease have no symptoms and that's why having a conversation with your physician is essential for good health. Testing involves a simple blood as well as urine test.
Signs of kidney trouble include: fatigue and weakness, difficult or painful urination, foamy urine, dark pink urine, increased thirst, increased need to urinate, puffy eyes, and swelling in the face, hands, abdomen, ankles and feet.
Foods To Help Improve Kidney Health
The simple answer here is that a good diet designed to reduce blood pressure and sugar is going to have a positive effect on the health of your kidneys - just as it will for your heart. Since the kidneys operate as a filter, issues such as high-blood pressure can cause damage to blood vessels and reduce the kidney's ability to function effectively. This ultimately results in waste products building up in the blood and leading to other troubles.
If you already have early-stage reduced kidney function then it is important to reduce intake of: Sodium, Potassium, Phosphorus, and Protein. However you should always talk with your physician or dietitian to create a specific diet for your needs.
Foods that are good for kidney health include: Cauliflower, Blueberries, Red Grapes, Egg Whites, Garlic, Buckwheat, and Olive Oil. The common factor with these items is that they are low in sodium and phosphorus or are additives (garlic and olive oil) that can be used to add flavor and healthy fat instead of salt or butter. Additionally they have high-levels of nutrients as well as antioxidants which are important for reducing inflammation.
Drinking lots of water will clear your kidneys of toxins - While drinking plenty of water is important for overall health, kidney function will not improve if you drink gallons of water per day vs a normal healthy amount. The exception is that those at a risk for kidney stones should drink plenty of water.
Cranberry juice can prevent kidney stones - This is completely false and in fact cranberry juice has a high level of oxalate which can actually cause kidney stones. Cranberry juice however can be important for general urinary health and combatting frequent UTIs.
Kidney disease is a rare condition - One in Seven American adults has some level of kidney disease.
The only treatment for kidney disease is dialysis - Chronic Kidney Disease is a progressive condition and when detected in early stages can often be managed with exercise, diet, and medication. Dialysis or a kidney transplant is only required if your kidney disease progresses to kidney failure or can not be managed by other methods.