How to keep your kidneys healthy

Kidneys might be small but they perform a number of vital functions that help to maintain overall health.

People from around the world will come together on Thursday March 12 to mark World Kidney Day, to help raise awareness of the impact of kidney disease and the importance of looking after your kidneys. 

World Kidney Day is an annual global health awareness campaign and this year’s theme is Kidney Health for Everyone Everywhere – from Prevention to Detection and Equitable Access to Care. 

Chronic kidney disease currently affects around 380 million people worldwide.

Early diagnosis and treatment, as well as making lifestyle and diet changes can often help slow down or prevent any further kidney damage. Though, if chronic kidney disease goes undetected or is not managed well, it can progress to kidney failure, which is fatal without treatment. People who are diagnosed with kidney failure will require regular dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Despite the fact that the kidneys are each only around the size of a fist, they are a vital organ that perform a number of important functions for the body. 

The primary job of the kidneys is to filter waste products and excess fluid from the blood. 

Kidneys filter almost two litres of fluid and get rid of around one and half litres of urine from the body every single day.

Kidneys also help to control blood pressure, produce red blood cells and support bone health. 

There are a number of ways to help protect your kidneys and keep them in good working order. 

  • Keep active: Regular exercise can help regulate weight, keep your blood pressure under control and reduce the risk of Chronic Kidney Disease. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking, cycling or swimming, every week (that’s around 20 minutes per day).
  • Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of fluid will help your kidneys function properly. Your urine should be straw-coloured. If it's any darker that could be a sign of dehydration. Drinking around eight cups of water - around two litres - per day should keep you sufficiently hydrated.
  • Eat healthy foods: A balanced diet will make sure you get all the vitamins and minerals your body needs. Eat plenty of fruit, vegetables and grains such as wholewheat pasta, bread and rice. Avoid too much salty or fatty foods and you’ll be well on your way to keeping your kidneys healthy. 
  • Don’t smoke: If you smoke, try to stop completely. Smoking slows the flow of blood to the kidneys. When less blood reaches the kidneys, it can decrease their ability to function normally. Smoking also increases the risk of kidney cancer by about 50 per cent.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption: Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure. High blood pressure is one of the most common causes of kidney disease. Both men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week on a regular basis.
  • Don’t take too many painkillers: Common drugs such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDS) or painkillers such as ibuprofen can harm the kidneys if taken regularly.
Katie Burt

Katie Burt

When not found with a laptop at my fingertips, it's likely I'll be running, swimming, attempting to cycle or seeking out decent coffee.

Continue reading