An incredible 33% of adult Americans are at risk of developing kidney disease which, when it reaches stage five (also called end-stage renal disease), requires regular dialysis treatments or a kidney transplant for survival.
The good news is, there is a lot you can do to prevent kidney disease from developing in the first place. Most of these lifestyle changes are especially doable in the summer, when the days are longer and it’s easier to spend time outdoors.
Here are our top five ways to protect your kidneys this summer:
1. Cook at home. Eating at home is one of the best ways to ensure you’re eating kidney-healthy food. While restaurant and some fast food establishments may seem healthy, most meals out are packed with salt—not good for the kidneys. If you cook at home, you can control the amount of sodium you consume (aim for 2,000mg or less a day) and thus keep your kidneys healthy. Remember, it’s not the salt shaker that’s usually the problem—it’s pre-packaged, processed, and restaurant foods that are loaded with salt, with many meals exceeding the entire daily sodium limit. Cook at home and flavor foods with spices and herbs instead of salt.
2. Exercise every day. Exercise is so important for kidney health. Even a little bit every day will make a big difference in your health and how you feel. If you haven’t exercised regularly, make sure to build up slowly. Start by walking, stretching or lifting light weights. Gardening or taking an online yoga class are also great ways to work exercise into your daily routine. Make it a social outing as well by inviting friends over to walk around your neighborhood, or join a tennis or pickleball club. It’s never too late to learn a new sport! Working exercise into your day helps boost your mood and keep your kidneys healthy.
3. Stop smoking. Smoking can lead to many health problems, including chronic kidney disease. Smoking causes damage to your heart and blood vessels, which in turn leads to decreased blood flow to the kidneys. If this happens over time, it could cause irreversible damage to your kidneys. Quitting can be challenging but there are a number of resources available that can help. Help keep your kidneys healthy—talk to your doctor to help create a plan to stop smoking.
4. Manage blood pressure and diabetes. High blood pressure and diabetes are the two leading causes of chronic kidney disease. Controlling your blood pressure and managing your blood sugar are key to keeping your kidneys healthy. Keeping your blood pressure in the range set by your doctor, and keeping your blood sugar levels in your target range as much as possible, can help prevent damage to the kidneys.Talk to your doctor to make sure your diet and lifestyle choices and/or medication is helping you do this.
5. Reduce stress. Stress has a huge impact on our lives and our health. Research shows that spending time with people in the community helps lower stress, as does exercising, getting enough sleep, practicing breathing and meditation, and laughing. Lower your stress levels by spending time outside, joining a community group, spending time with family and friends, and focusing on living life in the moment.
That’s it—our five tips for promoting kidney health this summer. How do you plan to keep your kidneys healthy this summer? What lifestyle tips do you have? Let us know on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!