March is National Kidney Month and the National Kidney Foundation is calling on all Americans to take five healthy steps for their kidneys.
The kidneys are the body’s chemical factories, filtering waste and performing vital functions that control things like red blood cell production and blood pressure. But over time, the kidneys can become damaged with little or no physical symptoms to warn you that your kidneys are in trouble.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, 26 million American adults estimated to have kidney disease, most don’t know they have it. That’s why taking care of your kidneys, especially if you are at risk for kidney disease, is so important. Here are a few simple things people can do to keep their kidneys healthy and strong.
Take 5 for Your Kidneys
Everyone can do 5 simple things to protect their kidneys:
- Get Tested! Ask your doctor for a urine test or a GFR blood test annually if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, are over age 60, or have a family history of kidney failure.
- Reduce NSAIDs. Over the counter pain medicines, such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), may alleviate your aches and pains, but they can harm the kidneys, especially if you already have kidney disease. Reduce your regular use of NSAIDs and never go over the recommended dosage.
- Cut the Processed Foods. Processed foods can be significant sources of sodium, nitrates and phosphates, and have been linked to cancer, heart disease and kidney disease. Try adopting the DASH diet to guide your healthy eating habits.
- Exercise Regularly. Your kidneys like it when you exercise. Regular exercise will keep your bones, muscles, blood vessels, heart and kidneys healthy. Getting active for at least 30 minutes a day can also help you control blood pressure and lower blood sugar, which is vital to kidney health.
- Control Blood Pressure and Diabetes. High blood pressure and diabetes are the leading causes of kidney disease and kidney failure. Managing high blood pressure and strict control of blood sugar levels can slow the progression of kidney disease. Speak with your doctor if you are having trouble managing diabetes or high blood pressure.
- 1 in 3 American adults is at high risk for developing kidney disease today.
- High blood pressure, diabetes, a family history of kidney failure and being over 60 are major risk factors for developing kidney disease.
- 1 in 9 American adults has kidney disease — and most don’t know it.
National Kidney Foundation
Linda Vlastuin, RN, MS,
AHF and Alaska Kidney Foundation Kidney Health Educator