Finally- my 2nd blog: Be kind to your kidneys!

Did you know that one out of five older adults (estimates range from 10 to 40%) has chronic kidney disease?  And that diabetes and high blood pressure are two major risk factors for kidney disease? Your kidneys (and how to keep them healthy) is not a very sexy subject (as opposed to menopause or osteoporosis, two hot topics), but the kidneys serve many important functions, including the following:

  • kidneys regulate blood pressure and the body’s water volume
  • the kidneys rid the body of waste products such as uric acid and toxins, filtering up to 200 quarts of blood daily
  • they are important for bone health, converting vitamin D to it’s active form and helping with the absorption of calcium
  • maintaining acid base balance in the blood and the proper levels of electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and calcium (critical for normal heart rhythm and necessary cellular functions)
  • release of erythropoietin to induce the bone marrow to make red blood cells

Kidney function declines in all of us as we age, but significant declines can lead to abnormal heart rhythms, hypertension, osteoporosis and anemia and can contribute to heart disease and stroke, which is what most people die of.

There are ways to prevent a significant decline in kidney function:

  • Maintain a healthy weight: obesity raises the risk of both high blood pressure and diabetes, two significant risk factors for kidney disease. Also, having excessive body weight likely puts unnecessary  strains on the kidneys that may lead to compromise or loss of the glomeruli, the basic filtering units of the kidney
  • avoid excessive salt in your diet as it can raise blood pressure, and salt may have direct negative effects on the kidneys
  • moderate amounts of protein in  your diet is probably fine, but too much may tax the kidneys
  • avoid exposure to the toxins lead, mercury and cadmium
  • over the counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) can damage kidneys if used frequently
  • exercise regularly- it not only decrease your risks of diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure, but may have direct positive effects on your kidneys
  • control diabetes and high blood pressure
  • try to prevent kidney stones by drinking at least 8 cups of water and non-sugared beverages daily, if you take a calcium supplement take it with food, limit high oxalate foods

I hope you you found the information in this blog helpful and will do what you can to maintain healthy kidney function!  Some of this information was obtained from one of my favorite resources, The Nutrition Action Health Letter (March 2014).

8/8/14 KML