Daily Habits That Protect Kidney Health

Whether this month is coming in like a lion or more like a lamb, early Spring brings a sense of optimism and an opportunity to start fresh making positive lifestyle changes that can not only get you ready for the beach but help ensure you are in better health to enjoy sunny days to come.

March also marks National Kidney Month and the National Kidney Foundation wants to use this opportunity to raise awareness about kidney disease, the 9th leading cause of death among women in the United States.  

Diabetes and high blood pressure are the primary health conditions that lead to kidney disease. With early treatment kidneys can be protected but often there are no symptoms in the early stages of the disease.  People with diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure should be tested for kidney disease. 

In cases of Chronic Kidney Disease, the kidneys are damaged and can’t filter extra water and wastes out of the blood or balance salts and minerals, make red blood cells or make hormones that help control blood pressure.  If the kidneys fail, you will need dialysis or a transplant.  In 2016, 100,791 people in the United States were waiting for kidney transplants and more than 3,000 new patients are added to the list each month. 

In addition to other health risks, a family history of kidney failure can make you more likely to develop CKD.  Your risk for having kidney disease also increases with age and yet 96 per cent of people with kidney damage or mildly reduced function are not aware they have CKD. Having CKD can increase the risk for heart disease and stroke, may cause fatigue, weaken the immune system, result in bone loss,  cause a loss of appetite, lessen quality of life or lead to an early death.

Prevention and Management

  • Control high blood pressure and high blood sugar levels
  • Get tested for kidney disease if you have any of the risk factors
  • Take medicine as prescribed
  • Eat a healthy diet – limit sugar, sodium and processed foods
  • Stop smoking
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Get regular physical exercise; aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 days per week
  • Lower your stress with relaxing activities like walking, listening to music, meditation or yoga

Source:  National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

For more information about kidney health and to take an online quiz to find out if you are at risk, follow this link to the National Kidney Foundation website. Canadian residents can follow this link to the Canadian Kidney Foundation.