My patients often ask me how they can keep their kidneys healthy. Keeping your kidneys healthy simply requires the same sensible approaches that keep the entire body healthy. The kidney is essentially a collection of specialized blood vessels. Therefore, it makes sense that “heart-healthy” is also “kidney-healthy.” The following recommendations for overall health also apply to kidney health:
- Weight control – Excessive weight also contributes to heart disease, osteoarthritis, diabetes and a range of other medical problems. A good diet rich in fruits, vegetables and fiber – but limited in unhealthy fats and carbohydrates
- Exercise – at least 30 minutes of aerobic, heart-healthy exercise three days a week, augmented by some type of resistance exercise twice per week to maintain lean body mass (can be performed at same session)
- Control of high blood pressure – uncontrolled hypertension is one of the main causes of kidney destruction. Controlling blood pressure includes regular monitoring, periodic check-ups with your doctor, and staying on prescribed medications even if you feel fine.
- Controlling your diabetes – diabetes, if left untreated, can ravage your body and lead to destruction of your eyesight, kidneys, and other organ systems.
- Stress reduction – the hormonal changes produced by excessive stress can have damaging effects on many parts of the body over time.
- Cholesterol control – monitoring and controlling cholesterol and overall fat levels in the blood not only contributes to kidney health, it also is vital to having a healthy heart.
- Regular check-ups and awareness of unusual symptoms – information is power and tracking your health – including early detection and treatment of unusual symptoms that could be indicators of serious problems, such as blood in the urine – are vital to early, effective treatment.
- Beware of medication use – Avoid excess aspirin, ibuprofen, and other anti-inflammatory drugs. Ask your doctor about the effects on your kidney function prior to starting any new prescription or over-the-counter medication.
- Stop smoking.