Kidney health is an important part of good overall health. The kidneys, which are part of the urinary system or urinary tract, perform a number of vital functions. They regulate fluid levels in the body and form urine, remove waste products from the blood, maintain the balance of electrolytes and other substances in the blood, and produce a hormone called erythropoietin that triggers red blood cell production in the bone marrow.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), keeping your kidneys healthy can help keep the rest of your body healthy too. Early kidney disease often does not cause symptoms so it’s important to talk to your health care provider about how often your kidney function should be tested.
People who are at increased risk for kidney diseasefor example, because of family history or a chronic condition like diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressureshould take steps to promote kidney health and manage their condition, and should be sure to have regular blood and urine tests.
Important tests include:
- Glomerular filtration rate (GFR)
- Urine albumin level
- Blood pressure
- Blood glucose
The NIH recommends the following tips to keep your kidneys healthy.
- Do not smoke. (Smoking can worsen kidney damage.)
- Monitor your blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and cholesterol.
- Eat a healthy diet high in fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.
- Limit your intake of processed foods and alcohol.
- Reduce sodium (salt) in your diet (< 2,300 mg of sodium per day).
- Increase your physical activity. (Talk to your health care provider before beginning an exercise program.)
- Lose weight if you’re overweight or obese.
- Take all medication(s) as directed by your doctor.
Maintaining healthy blood pressure is an important step in preventing kidney damage. For most people, target blood pressure is less that 140/90 mm Hg. According to the NIH, some blood pressure medications (e.g., ACE inhibitors, ARBs) may help protect the kidneys.
Source: National institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney DiseasesNational Institutes of Health (NIH)