It’s National Kidney Month! See five simple ways to promote kidney health every day.

March is National Kidney Month, a time to raise awareness of the kidneys—how they work, how to keep them healthy, and what to do if your kidneys start to lose function.

Your kidneys are oh-so-important, filtering waste and keeping your body in balance. A lifestyle that promotes kidney health will help you feel better and keep your kidneys functioning well. So what does a kidney-healthy lifestyle involve? Read on to see our top five ways to promote kidney health.

1. Stop smoking.

Smoking increases your risk for kidney problems—it can damage your heart and blood vessels over time, resulting in poor blood flow to your kidneys. Talk to your doctor to create a plan that works for you to stop smoking.

2. Watch your blood pressure.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a leading cause of chronic kidney disease. High blood pressure can lead to the narrowing and damaging of blood vessels, which reduces blood flow to your kidneys. Keep your blood pressure in check—take your medications and see your doctor regularly to ensure your blood pressure is being managed properly.

3. Follow a low-sodium diet.

The kidneys are master filterers, cleaning your blood and making sure there is balance in your body, especially in terms of sodium and potassium. A diet high in salt can affect this balance, reducing your kidney function and increasing your blood pressure—and when your blood pressure stays high for a long time, it can lead to chronic kidney disease. Cut the salt from your diet by avoiding salt-heavy restaurant meals and cook from scratch instead to help protect your kidney function.

4. Exercise regularly.

Not only does exercise help you feel better but it keeps your body working well too—and that includes your kidneys. Exercise helps prevent risk factors for chronic kidney disease, like high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. Talk to your doctor about an exercise plan that works for you. And remember, exercise doesn’t have to require an expensive gym membership—walking, gardening or at-home yoga can have a big impact on your health and how you feel!

5. Watch your blood sugar.

Diabetes is the leading cause of chronic kidney disease. If you have diabetes and your blood sugar stays high for a long time, it can damage the tiny blood vessels and filters in your kidneys, and they simply won’t work as well. If you don’t have diabetes, continue to live an active lifestyle and get checked regularly, as catching diabetes early is key. If you do have diabetes, work with your doctor to help manage your blood sugar to preserve your kidney function for as long as possible.

Follow the above tips to promote kidney health—your kidneys will thank you! And make sure to follow us on InstagramFacebook and Twitter for more tips on how to keep your kidneys healthy!