March is National kidney month…But how much do you know about your kidneys and keeping them healthy? We have two kidneys, each the size of our fist and located in the lower back. Our kidneys filter about 200 liters of blood each day, according to an article by the National Kidney Foundation. In doing this, they remove waste and excess water.
These important organs also help regulate blood pressure and red blood cell production. They also help regulate salt, potassium, and acid content as well as balancing body fluids.
Unfortunately, these bean-shaped helpers at risk for disease. In fact, one third of us are at risk of kidney disease for a variety of reasons, including diabetes and high blood pressure. Cardiovascular disease and a family history of kidney problems are also risk factors. That is because these conditions damage the tiny filtering units in the kidneys (We have about 1 million of these.) One informative article shared that kidney disease is one of the top ten causes of death in the U.S, but many Americans have the disease and don’t even know it yet; early stages of the disease often do not have symptoms.
As we age, kidney function may decrease as the number of filtering units and the amount of kidney tissue may go down, according to a Senior Health article.
- Exercise regularly
- Don’t overuse over-the-counter painkillers or Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Control weight
- Get an annual physical
- Know your family’s medical history
- Don’t smoke or abuse alcohol
- Talk to your doctor about getting tested if you’re at risk for Chronic Kidney Disease
- Keep blood pressure and cholesterol within normal ranges.
- Make sure diabetes is well-controlled.
- Reduce sodium intake to less than 1,500 milligrams per day.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and whole grains