March is National Kidney Month, and the National Kidney Foundation is calling on everyone to take 5 easy steps to keep their kidneys healthy and strong. The kidneys are small chemical factories in the body that filter waste and perform vital functions. They also control things like red blood cell production and blood pressure. However, over time the kidneys can become damaged with little or no physical symptoms to warn you that your kidneys are in trouble.
Take 5 for Your Kidneys
1. Get Tested! Ask your doctor for an ACR urine test or a GFR blood test annually, especially if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, are over age 60, or have a family history of kidney failure. Throughout National Kidney Month, the National Kidney Foundation is offering free kidney health screenings through the KEEP Healthy program. To locate a KEEP Healthy screening near you, or to learn more about the kidneys and risk factors for kidney disease, visit www.kidney.org/KEEPHealthy.
2. Reduce NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Over the counter pain medicines may get rid of your your aches and pains, but they can harm the kidneys, especially if you already have kidney disease. Reduce your regular use of NSAIDs and never go over the recommended dosage.
3. Cut the Processed Foods. Processed foods can be significant sources of sodium, nitrates, and phosphates. Moreover, they have been linked to cancer, heart disease, and kidney disease. So, try adopting the DASH diet to guide your healthy eating habits.
4. Exercise Regularly. Your kidneys like it when you exercise. Regular exercise will keep your bones, muscles, blood vessels, heart, and kidneys healthy. Getting active for at least 30 minutes a day can also help you control blood pressure and lower blood sugar. This is vital to kidney health.
5. Control Blood Pressure and Diabetes – High blood pressure and diabetes are the leading causes of kidney disease and kidney failure. Managing high blood pressure and strict control of blood sugar levels can slow the progression of kidney disease. Speak with your doctor if you are having trouble managing diabetes or high blood pressure.
Today, roughly 26 million American adults unknowingly have kidney disease. During the month, be sure to do what you can to lower your risk and keep your kidneys pumping.