Health

Raise awareness of kidney health on March 12, World Kidney Day

Kidney health for everyone, everywhere is the theme of this year’s World Kidney Day, celebrated March 12 and a chance for all of us to remind ourselves of just how important these bean-shaped organs are.

 

What your kidneys do

Kidneys filter blood and remove waste. They also balance electrolytes, control blood pressure, produce red blood cells and help you maintain healthy bones, among other things.

One fifth of the blood pumped by your heart goes to the kidneys, where it is processed and filtered. Excess water, salt, minerals and waste are sent to the bladder as urine and ‘clean’ blood is returned to circulation. It takes just five minutes for all of your blood to be filtered by the kidney which means in 24 hours, your kidneys will filter all of your blood 288 times!

Most people are born with two kidneys, although you need just one functioning kidney to live a normal, healthy life.

How to keep your kidneys healthy

The good news is, you can do a lot to help your kidneys stay healthy.

1. Eat less salt. Foods high in salt make your kidneys work harder. Try to keep your sodium intake to less than 2,000 milligrams per day. Eat out less (restaurant meals are loaded with salt) and instead, cook from scratch at home.

2. Watch your blood pressure. High blood pressure causes kidney disease. Manage your blood pressure and get it checked regularly.

3. If you have diabetes, control your blood sugars. For more than 40 percent of people with kidney failure, diabetes is the cause. Uncontrolled diabetes can also lead to heart disease, blood vessel disease, loss of limbs and blindness.

4. Stop smoking. Smoking greatly increases your risk for all kidney-related problems, including heart disease.

5. Exercise regularly. Work with your doctor to create an exercise plan that works for you. Exercising on a regular basis and maintaining a healthy weight can help keep your kidneys healthy.

Get your kidneys checked

Simple urine and blood tests can check your kidney function. Ask your doctor at your next check-up. Catching kidney disease early is key, as you might be able to slow it down with simple lifestyle changes.

If you’re at risk for kidney disease, or it runs in your family, don’t wait – make an appointment to get tested today.

Help us spread the word about kidney disease – join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Keep cool when it’s hot: tips for dialysis patients

When you’re on dialysis, it can be difficult to manage your fluid intake and when it’s hot out, that becomes an even bigger challenge. It’s good to have a list of ways to keep cool on those hot summer days so you’re not tempted to go over your fluid limit. Below are some of our favorite ways to keep cool without gulping down more drinks.

1. Freeze fruit⁠ — like strawberries, raspberries or blackberries ⁠— to suck on when you’re thirsty.

2. Measure out your daily water limit and pour it into an ice cube tray. (Ice cubes last longer than sips of water.)

3. Stay in air-conditioned places like malls or grocery stores.

4. Take a cool bath or shower and let your hair air dry instead of using a hairdryer.

5. Cool a washcloth and drape it over your forehead, then sit in front of a fan.

6. Wear lightweight clothing.

7. If you have diabetes, pay close attention to your blood sugar as high blood glucose can make you extra thirsty.

8. Avoid spicy foods.

9. Stay away from strenuous activity so as not to dehydrate your body further.

10. Suck on a lemon or lime to quench your thirst.

How do you stay cool during the hot summer days? We’d love to hear your creative ideas! Share your tips with us via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Love your kidneys!

Make simple changes for kidney health

February is all about love and this year, it’s time to spread that love to your kidneys. The truth is, they need it! Kidney disease is serious and one in three adult Americans is at risk for it. When your kidneys fail, you need regular dialysis treatments or a kidney transplant to survive. The good news is, there are many things you can do right now to prevent kidney disease from happening. Follow the tips below to spread the love to your kidneys and help keep them healthy.

1. Follow a low-sodium diet. Eating foods high in sodium can increase your blood pressure and make your kidneys (and your heart) work harder. Keep your sodium intake under 2,000 milligrams a day. Avoid fast foods and packaged foods, and limit eating out as restaurant meals can be full of sodium. Cook at home, choose fresh fruits and vegetables to snack on and flavor foods with spices instead of salt. Check out our tasty low-sodium recipes and work with your dietitian or doctor on a complete meal plan.

2. Monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure can impact arteries around your heart, making them weak and unable to deliver enough blood to your kidneys. Keep your blood pressure in check to help keep your arteries strong.

3. Exercise regularly. Regular exercise can help you control blood pressure, lose weight, get stronger and sleep better. It can also greatly improve your mood. Start slowly and work up to 30 minutes a day. Check out more fitness tips and work with your doctor to create an exercise plan that’s right for you.

4. Quit smoking. Smoking can slow the blood flow to your kidneys. If you smoke, work with your doctor on a plan to cut back and work towards quitting altogether. Visit smokefree.gov for tips and more information.

5. Control your blood sugar if you have diabetes. High blood sugar can damage blood vessels in your kidneys. Keep your blood sugar at the level your doctor recommends to prevent kidney damage.

Now’s the time to focus on yourself and your health. Don’t put it off! Follow the tips above for a healthier you and let us know how it’s going – share with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Five tips for kidney patients this holiday season

If you have kidney disease, you’ve likely changed your diet to keep healthy. Following the kidney diet can be tough anytime of the year but especially challenging during the holidays, when parties and events, complete with platters of tempting, non-kidney-friendly food, are ever present. Don’t let this keep you away from enjoying fun times with your loved ones this holiday season! Here are five tips for surviving holiday parties and gatherings while sticking to the kidney-healthy diet:

1. Eat beforehand. Don’t show up to a party with an empty stomach. It’s so much harder to stick to your diet when your stomach is rumbling! Eating beforehand will help you avoid temptation and give you more time to focus on why you’re really there—to enjoy good company during the holidays.

2. Offer to bring a kidney-friendly dish. Yes, this means you’re not off the hook for cooking, but it also means you’re guaranteed to have something kidney-friendly to munch on wherever you go. Plus, you’ll be able to introduce other party-goers to a low-salt, kidney-healthy meal, something that’s good for just about everybody! Check out our kidney-friendly recipes if you’re looking for a dish to make.

3. Avoid processed foods, including processed meats. Processed food equals high salt, a definite no. Steer clear of these items; choose low-sodium proteins and fresh foods instead.

4. Control your portions. Have your eye on some tasty treats but know they aren’t particularly kidney-friendly? Have just a taste to satisfy your craving, then use your willpower to move on.

5. Plan an active gathering. If you’re hosting, plan an activity instead of centering the party around food. Going for a walk or a short hike, will take the focus off food and get those endorphins going, leaving everyone feeling good about getting some exercise during the long winter months. Playing board games and family sports is also a nice way to spend quality time and make memories not centered on eating.

You don’t have to avoid holiday parties just because there may be foods you can’t eat. Follow the tips above and you’ll be setting yourself up for a great time with family and friends!