Kidneys. Not something you spend a lot of time thinking about, but these amazing bean shaped organs are essential for life! These vital organs are the sophisticated trash collectors of your body and process over 200 quarts of blood in a day to filter about 2 quarts of impurities, waste and extra water from your body.
Your kidneys also regulate and measure out proper amounts of substances like potassium and sodium to achieve the balance your body needs. Too much is harmful to health. Three important hormones are also released from your kidneys:
- Renin, which helps to regulate your blood pressure
- EPO, (Erythropoietin) which stimulates the blood to create red blood cells
- And the active form of Vitamin D, which maintains normal chemical balance in the body and helps your bones receive calcium.
March is National Kidney Month and March 10 is World Kidney Day, calling attention to the need to keep your kidneys healthy and avoid kidney disease. Those with cardiovascular issues like high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity are at special risk for kidney failure and there are simple ways to keep your kidneys healthy and avoid kidney disease:
- Control your blood pressure! Diet and sometimes medication are needed to do this.
- Control your sugar and carbohydrate intake. High or spiked blood sugar overworks the kidneys, causing them to stop working properly.
- Follow a low protein diet. Here is another high five for a plant based diet. Make the bulk of your meals in a day veggies, beans and fruits.
- Maintain healthy levels of cholesterol. Here again, a plant based diet, high in fiber, can help control most high cholesterol, while a diet of meat, fried foods, and over processed foods leads to a problem with cholesterol and triglycerides.
- Stop smoking. So many reasons to,and here is another!
- Maintain a good weight for your height. Obesity is a killer to your kidneys
- Cut back on salt. Less than 1,500 milligrams a day.
- Get 30 minutes of exercise daily. Walk, run, swim. Fit some form of brisk exercise into your daily habits.
Keep in mind, diabetes and high blood pressure are the two leading causes of kidney disease. You can save some kidney function but damage cannot be reversed and small changes make big differences!
Shelli Rossignol lmt/cr March 2013
- The National Kidney Foundation