World Kidney Day 2020: Six ways to keep your kidneys healthy
Estimates suggest that if the global burden of kidney diseases keeps increasing, it would be one of the leading causes of mortality in the world by 2040.
Nearly 850 million people in the world have some sort of kidney disease and about 5 to 10 million people currently either require dialysis or kidney transplantation. Estimates suggest that if the global burden of kidney diseases keeps increasing, it would be one of the leading causes of mortality in the world by 2040.
Every year on the third Thursday of March, the International Society of Nephrology and International Federation of Kidney Foundations, organise the World Kidney Day to spread awareness about the various aspects of kidney health.
This year, the theme of World Kidney Day focuses on prevention of kidney diseases.
With that in view, we bring you six of the most common lifestyle changes that help keep your kidney healthy:
1. Drink plenty of fluids
Water helps kidneys in filtering out all the waste from the body. It also ensures that your kidneys get proper blood supply. So, if you tend to be dehydrated often, you might get kidney damage. Now, most people are told to drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water per day. However, according to the National Kidney Foundation, USA, the number may vary as per your age, physical activity, the climate around you and your health condition. For example, patients who are on dialysis are often told to reduce their water intake since their kidneys are not filtering out excess water. Excess water may lead to a reduction in sodium levels in the body, which may also negatively affect your health.
Men are generally recommended to take about 3 litres of fluid through the day and women should take about 2.2 litres of fluid per day.
2. Watch your blood pressure and blood sugar levels
High blood pressure and diabetes are two of the most common underlying conditions for kidney diseases. If you have either of the diseases or if you are at risk of developing them, say from family history, it is important to keep watch on your blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Get tested regularly at a clinic and do timely home monitoring (as recommended by your doctor). Also, make sure you take all your medicines properly. Your blood pressure should be below 140/90 mm Hg and your fasting blood sugar levels should be below 99 mg/dL.
3. Exercise regularly
Regular workouts keep your body functioning well and help prevent various diseases, including heart diseases and obesity (the risk factors of kidney disease). It also helps in maintaining normal blood pressure levels. According to the National Health Service, UK, healthy adults should aim at about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity workout in a week.
If you don’t exercise at all, start with 20 minutes of light exercise and eventually increase it to the required time and intensity. Some of the exercises that you can do are brisk walking, jogging, cycling and swimming.
If you suffer from a chronic health condition, talk to your doctor before making a workout schedule for yourself.
4. Avoid alcohol and smoking
Both alcohol and smoking reduce the filtering capacity of kidneys. Alcohol can cause high blood pressure and smoking can reduce blood flow to the kidneys, leading to an increased risk of kidney damage. Both of these also affect other organs in your body, which may have an indirect impact on kidney function.
5. Take a healthy diet
Just like exercise, a balanced diet is one of the basic components of a healthy lifestyle. It not only wards off diseases but also helps you manage weight and improve overall health.
Make sure that you have plenty of veggies, fresh fruits, and whole grains that provide you with all the macronutrients (carbs, proteins and fats) and micronutrients (minerals and vitamins). Also, avoid excessively sweet, salty or fatty food and cut down processed food, especially if you are obese, diabetic or have high blood pressure.
6. Avoid pain-killers
If you tend to take a lot of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines for pain reduction or fever and cold, you may be slowly degrading your kidney function. Most of the OTC pain killers are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that can harm your kidneys over time.
Ibuprofen, aspirin (in high dose) and naproxen are especially known to increase the risk of chronic kidney disease. If you have low blood pressure or are dehydrated, some of these pain killers can also lead to acute kidney injury.
It is best to ask your doctor to know how long the medicine can be used safely for.
For more tips, read our article on Kidney diseases.
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