healthy kidneys

10 habits to keep your kidneys healthy

Kidney disease and kidney failure requiring dialysis or transplant can be a bad experience in many ways.

Here are 10 good habits you can adopt to keep your kidneys healthy. These habits will likely protect many other aspects of your health like your heart, brain, blood vessels and other organs

  1. Eat healthy foods. Food rich in fibers, plant protein and vegetables and low in starch, animal protein are generally considered healthy food
  2. Control your weight. Some use sophisticated measures such as body mass index to determine if someone is overweight. However a simple measure for adults is waist circumference. For adult males a waist circumference below 40 inches and in females below 35 inches is a rough way to determine if you are overweight.
  3. Exercise. Yes, we know you work hard every day and are tired so that should count as exercise, right? The answer to that is NO. The kind of exercise we are talking about is aerobic exercise that works out the heart and muscles continuously for at least 30 minutes every day. Exercise has several benefits for blood pressure, blood sugar, mood and energy levels.   
  4. Avoid tobacco products and consume alcohol very lightly if at all. Tobacco has absolutely no healthy benefit and is known to cause over 50 diseases. Alcohol in small quantities may offer some benefits but in large quantities causes several diseases including kidney damage as well.
  5. Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep increases stress levels and increased stress levels have effects on blood pressure, the heart and the kidneys. Try to get at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every day.
  6. Drink lots of water but don’t take too much. At least 3-4 liters a day will keep you hydrated and flush your kidneys. Taking much more than that can actually get you in trouble. Remember, too much of anything is bad.
  7. Keep your intake of salt low. Remember that salt may already be added to food while it is being cooked and many foods and snacks contain salt. At least try not to add salt at prepared food and ask the food preparer to keep the salt content low.
  8. Make sure your blood pressure is controlled. High blood pressure is one of the major causes of kidney disease in the entire world. Get your blood pressure checked at least once a year. If you are placed on blood pressure medication, do not stop it without the advice of your doctor.
  9. Be very careful about taking supplements and herbal medications. If you eat a healthy diet and exercise, a multivitamin tablet everyday should suffice. Anything else can only increase your risk of a medical problem. Traditional or even western herbal medication and supplements have a track record of causing kidney failure. Beware.
  10. Get a medical check up at least once a year. Sometimes, even if we do all the right things, it might not be enough and detecting problems early with the kidney can save us lots of money and discomfort. Get a checkup once a year. Tests for kidney disease are simple and cheap and involve taking small samples of blood and urine and testing them for kidney function.