According to the Cleveland Clinic, high blood pressure, diabetes, or a family history of kidney failure put one in three Americans at an increased risk of developing kidney disease. But even if you don’t fit in any of those risk categories, it’s important to take care of these critically important organs. Keeping them healthy is important, especially people with these risk factors or other conditions that affect kidney health.
What Are Kidneys?
The National Institute for Health describes the kidneys as “two bean-shaped organs, each about the size of a fist. They are located just below the rib cage, one on each side of the spine. Every day, the two kidneys filter about 120 to 150 quarts of blood to produce about 1 to 2 quarts of urine, composed of wastes and extra fluid.”
Why Are Kidneys Important?
Kidneys clean the waste from your blood. The waste products in your blood come from different parts of the body and from the food you eat after the body is finished using food for energy and healing. Some of the byproducts of the kidney’s cleansing are sent from the kidneys to either recycle back to the body or excrete as urine. If your kidneys did not remove these by-products as urine, waste would accumulate and damage your body and its ability to function, eventually resulting in death if untreated.
How Do I Keep My Kidneys Healthy?
Many keys to kidney health have additional health benefits are are things you should be doing anyway. Here are some tips for how to keeps your kidneys in good shape.
- Hydrate. Hydration keeps the kidneys active and helps them do their cleaning work. Experts recommend drinking 4-6 glasses of water per day. There is little evidence that drinking more water than this provides additional kidney benefits.
- Eat right. Giving your kidneys less stuff to clean is always a good idea. Foods that are linked to diabetes–high in sugar, sodium, and saturated fats can also put more strain on the kidneys.
- Work out, but don’t overdo it. Keeping fit is good for your blood pressure which is good for your kidneys. Overexertion, however, can put a strain on your kidneys, especially if you become dehydrated.
- Watch what else you put in your body. Some over the counter pain relievers can, in certain conditions, stress the kidneys. Some vitamins and supplements can cause problems as well when used frequently and chronically. Always tell you doctor what other medications and supplements you are taking to avoid dangerous interactions.
- Kick the habit. Smoking damages blood vessels, which in turn decreases blood flow. Lack of blood flow to the kidneys impairs their ability to do their work. Smoking also causes high blood pressure and has been linked to kidney cancer.
How Is Kidney Health Related to High Blood Pressure?
According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure causes artery damage, and the kidneys are densely packed with arteries and high volumes of blood flow through them. Over time, uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause arteries around the kidneys to narrow, weaken, or harden, and eventually to fail.
The role of the kidneys is often underrated when we think about our health. Consider this: Kidneys are one of the few organs of which nature gave us two. They’re so important, we need to have a backup!
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