We rarely give a thought to our kidneys as long as they keep working. They perform the highly important task of filtering toxic wastes that accumulate in our blood and purifying our blood. Like our hear, they never stop working as long as we live, with our two bean-shaped kidneys filtering 115 to 150 liters of blood on a daily basis to produce the 1 to 2 liters of urine that we eliminate. Damage to the kidneys can highly compromise the quality of life. If our kidneys fail, the only solutions are regular dialysis or kidney transplant. Kidneys can be adversely affected either by physical injuries or by diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. In view of the growing rates of lifestyle diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure in this part of the world, we all need to become aware of the steps we should take to keep our kidneys in good shape and habits we should avoid to minimize the risk of damage to our kidneys.
1. Ensure you never hold urine: We all lead a very hectic lifestyle where everything is more important than bathroom breaks. Holding urine on a regular basis can increase chances of kidney stones and kidney failure in the long run.
2. Drink enough water: Instead of relying on energy drinks and endless cups of coffee and tea, ensure that you drink a minimum of 2 liter of water or about six glasses of water a day. This will make the job of the kidneys, that of flushing out toxins, easier. If you do not like the idea of drinking plain water, add a twist of lime or mint for flavor.
3. Reduce or eliminate sugar from your diet: Sugar can be highly addictive, whether it is for your morning cup of java or the frosted doughnut you snack on. A recent study indicated that people who consume more sugar had more urine proteins and kidneys that were in worse shape than that of those who had less sugar. So, here is one more reason to avoid sugary snacks.
4. Avoid/Minimize red meat: We all love barbecue and red meat but red meat means more work for the kidneys as they boost the metabolic load and animal proteins need to be broken down.
5. Reduce Salt: If sugar is bad, so is salt. Too much salt can lead to higher blood pressure and this can impair the functioning of the kidneys.
6. Get Adequate Sleep: If you are burning the candle at both ends and not giving yourself enough time for rest, this affects not just your overall health, but that of your kidneys too. Your kidneys recover from the work they do during the day at night when you are asleep and it is vital for you to get your recommended eight hours of sleep every night.
7. Pay attention to what goes in: Keep a close eye on what you are eating. In order to work at their optimal levels, our kidneys need to get adequate amounts of trace elements like Magnesium and B6. Brown rice, leafy vegetables, nuts and whole wheat bread are good sources of magnesium while sunflower seeds, tuna, pistachios, avocados, pinto beans are all good sources of vitamin B6.
8. Limit Coffee: Diuretics like coffee and tea might give you a burst of energy but they drain water away from your body and make your kidneys work harder.
9. Check your medications: There are many over the counter medications like painkillers which can have an adverse effect on your kidneys. Before you take any medications, read up on the side effects and avoid using such drugs on a long term basis.
10. Keep tabs on your blood pressure and cholesterol: As part of maintaining your general health, monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol levels on a periodic basis. Any significant increase in these two factors should call for proactive action like increasing exercise levels and switching to a healthier diet in order to limit the potential damage these two factors could cause to your kidneys.
Manju Mathew, an MBA in marketing, completed publisher training courses from the Oxford Brookes University and New York University. She started with marketing and PR roles before moving on to her current position as a full time writer. Currently living in Dubai, her life as an expat has sharpened her observation skills and flair for writing. She enjoys writing about luxury cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc even if she can only dream of owning them.
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