Fitness Facts: March is National Kidney Month

By Connie Colbert
GCU Director of Health Services

An estimated 26 million American adults have kidney disease, but most do not know they have it. That is why taking care of your kidneys, especially if you are at risk for kidney disease, is important. 

Connie Colbert

The kidneys are the body’s chemical factories, filtering waste and performing vital functions that control red blood cell production, blood pressure and other bodily tasks. But over time, the kidneys can become damaged with little or no physical symptoms to warn you that they are in trouble.

March is National Kidney Month, so it’s a good time for a reminder about a few simple things you can do to keep your kidneys healthy and strong.

Ask your doctor for an albumin-to-creatinine ratio (ACR) urine test or a GFR blood test yearly if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, are over age 60 or have a family history of kidney failure. You can get screened for free through the National Kidney Foundation’s KEEP Healthy program by visiting www.kidney.org.

Reduce your intake of NSAIDs. NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are over-the-counter pain medicines that may alleviate your aches and pains but can harm the kidneys, especially if you already have kidney disease. Reduce your regular use of NSAIDs and never go over the recommended dosage. NSAIDs include ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac, celecoxib, mefenamic acid, etoricoxib and indomethacin.

Cut the processed foods. Processed foods can be significant sources of sodium, nitrates and phosphates and have been linked to cancer, heart disease and kidney disease. Try adopting the DASH diet to guide your healthy eating habits. This is a diet low in salt and sodium. To learn more, click here.

Exercise regularly. Your kidneys like it when you exercise. regular exercise will keep your bones, muscles, blood vessels, heart and kidneys healthy. Getting active for at least 30 minutes a day also can help you control blood pressure and lower blood sugar, which is vital to kidney health.

Stay well hydrated. Staying well hydrated helps your kidneys clear of sodium, urea and toxins from the body. Drinking plenty of water and avoiding sugary beverages is also one of the best ways to avoid painful kidney stones. Those with kidney problems or kidney failure may need to restrict their fluid intake, but for most people, drinking 1.5 to 2 liters (3 to 4 pints) of water per day is a healthy target.

What are the risk factors for developing kidney disease?

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease. High blood glucose levels over time cause damage to the inside of your kidneys. If you have diabetes, it is especially important to control sugar levels to prevent this damage.

Other factors include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Being African American, Native American or Asian-American
  • Family history of kidney disease
  • Abnormal kidney structure

Signs of kidney disease:

  • Fatigue
  • Itchy, dry skin
  • Swelling in your hands, legs, or feet
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in the small of your back
  • Decreased appetite
  • Puffiness around your eye
  • Blood in your urine
  • Changes in urination, urinating more often or urine that is foamy or bubbly
  • High blood pressure

One in 3 Americans are at risk for kidney disease. Calculate your risk by clicking here.

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GCU Magazine

Bible Verse

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

To Read More: www.verseoftheday.com/