Tips to Maintain Good Kidney Health
Kidneys are bean-shaped organs located in your lower back on either side of your spine. They release hormones that regulate blood pressure and stimulate red blood cell production. They also maintain fluid levels inside you, filter waste, aid in , and balance your sodium, potassium, and phosphorous. It takes about 30 minutes for your kidneys to filter every ounce of blood inside you. Kidney (renal) failure is officially the 9th leading cause of death in the U.S. Most people don’t give kidney health much thought until these vital organs stop working. In this fast buzzing, stress-filled life we are exposed to a variety of toxins. Unhealthy indulgences in the form of fast food, stimulants like caffeine drinks and partying are things that keep us humans going to survive the pace with which our life is progressing. All the while kidneys work day and night, 24/7 to filter out these harmful toxins. When the load of toxins gets too much for kidneys to handle, their functioning slows down, making one susceptible to kidney stones, infections, cysts, tumours, or worse, a complete shut down. If your kidneys fail, it means they’re unable to filter waste from your bloodstream. Within a matter of hours, the toxins inside you can build to a lethal level.
What Happens if Your Kidneys Fail?
You can’t survive without your kidneys. You must have at least one functioning kidney. If both kidneys fail, you are left with two options:
Dialysis − The only treatment for kidney failure is dialysis. Medical equipment takes over the filtration of your blood, doing the job your kidneys once performed. And it’s ongoing. Once you start dialysis due to renal failure, you’re in it for life. At this time, approximately 468,000 Americans are on long-term kidney dialysis.
Kidney Transplant − The only other option is a kidney transplant, but demand far outweighs supply (it’s number one on transplant lists). As of 2016, more than 100,000 people in the U.S. alone are awaiting kidney transplants. Sadly, fewer than 17,000 will receive the life-saving organ they need in time.
Experts estimate that 26 million people in the United States have some form of kidney disease and are unaware of it. Annually, kidney disease kills more people than breast cancer or prostrate cancer. More than 47,000 people died from kidney disease in 2013. Yet you don’t hear much about it in the mainstream media.
Kidney disease is a “silent” killer. Kidney function deterioration can happen quietly over time. But once your kidneys begin to fail, your health declines quickly. You might experience symptoms or you may have no clue you have kidney disease until you’re tested for an unrelated condition.
Symptoms of Failing Kidney Health to Watch Out For
If you experience any of the following symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
Less urine output or feeling as if you need to urinate more often
Dark or pinkish urine, foam in urine
Retaining fluids; swelling in limbs, abdomen, or face
Increased sensation of thirst
Chest pain or pressure
Extreme fatigue, weakness, or unusual sleepiness
Loss of cognition
Acute kidney failure is usually a side effect of another medical condition. Heart disease and diabetes are the single biggest risk factors for kidney disease.
What Raises Your Personal Risk of Kidney Failure?
Diabetes (the leading cause of kidney failure)
High blood pressure (the second leading cause of kidney failure)
Poor lifestyle habits (smoking, substance abuse, excessive alcohol consumption)
Compromised immune function, autoimmune disease, or persistent infections
Sudden blood loss (including surgical procedures)
Blocks (such as kidney stones) that impair blood flow
Long-term use of prescription or over-the-counter drugs
Traumatic injury to kidneys
Chemotherapy treatment, test dyes, and antibiotics
Heavy metal toxicity
Research from Johns Hopkins University (published in American Journal of Kidney Disease) found that patients who are obese have double the risk of developing kidney disease. If you’re a smoker, you have 60 percent more chance of losing the use of your kidneys if they begin to fail.
Detoxing Your Kidney
Drink lots and lots of water. The most important thing for a regular kidney detox is to have a high intake of natural, clean water. Having around 6-8 glasses of water per day helps to filter out the accumulated toxins. A good indication of this would be passing clear urine which is not very strong smelling. If the urine is anything deeper than a pale yellow, it means that it is concentrated. Passing clear urine is an indication of a clean filtering system
Eat more fruit, especially berries. Fruits and vegetables that are rich in potassium aid in cleansing the kidneys. Citrus fruits like grapes, sweet lime, oranges, cantaloupes, bananas, kiwis, apricots and prunes are all rich sources of potassium. Berries like cranberries help in cleansing the kidney. One cup of cranberries is enough to clean the kidneys daily. Cranberries contain a nutrient called quinine which converts itself into hippuric acid through a series of metabolic changes in the liver. Hippuric acid clears the excess buildup of urea and uric acid in the kidneys. Another excellent fruit is watermelon. Watermelon contains more than 90% water, providing essential fluids the body needs during a cleanse. The remainder of the food is fiber which helps clean away buildup in the intestines, thus reducing toxic stressors. Watermelon is also a diuretic, encouraging urine flow that aids the removal of toxins from the kidneys. The high potassium content helps break down kidney stones so wastes can be removed through normal urination. The potassium content of watermelon contributes to lowering blood pressure, an important aspect of kidney health.
Incorporate barley into your diet. Barley is another excellent grain that is used to cleanse as well as to prevent damage happening in the kidney due to uncontrolled diabetes. Note that barley is not a cure, but just an adjunct along with other methods to maintain optimum functioning of the kidneys. Barley is a whole grain, and substituting barley flour in place of refined flours is a good way of including it in your diet.
Minimize your intake of alcohol, caffeine, and chocolate. Though scientists still argue about this, the possible list of things to avoid includes alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, nuts, and processed foods. These are not so much recommended to be avoided because they’re bad for your kidneys, but that they can have adverse reactions in your body overall. Regardless of whether you’re detoxifying or not, it’s a good idea to limit your intake of all these things.
Steps to Protect Your Kidney Health
-Control your blood sugar and check it regularly – 90% of all diabetes cases are type 2, which is 100 percent preventable and reversible
-Know your blood pressure – 20% of people with high blood pressure don’t know they have it because they exhibit no symptoms
-Exercise at least 20 minutes a day, even low impact exercise.
-Lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight
-Drink ½ ounce of water for each pound of bodyweight daily (eg. 150 lbs = 75 ounces of water daily) and flours that induce rampant inflammation
-Eat organic when possible (fewer pesticides and additives that bio-accumulate)
-Quit smoking now
-Avoid use of OTC drugs and unnecessary prescriptions
Renal failure is a painful process. If you don’t protect these bean-shaped organs, they could literally collapse from exhaustion. Don’t wait until your kidneys fail before you recognize the importance of these under appreciated, and often ignored organs because you can’t live long without them.
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