How a diet & healthy lifestyle helps you keep your kidney healthy, says Dr. Premkumar K, Consultant Urology and Renal Transplant Surgeon, Fortis Hospital, Bangalore.
How often do we think about our kidneys- the two-bean shaped organ in our body? Kidneys perform a wide range of activities which results in the optimal health and proper functioning of our body.
However, there has still been a rise in the incidence of chronic kidney diseases making it a major concern in India. According to a report from Lancet, “Chronic kidney disease is now recognized as a major medical problem worldwide. In India, chronic kidney disease ranks as the eighth leading cause of the death”
The factors that have a negative impact on the kidneys:
Our kidneys are made up of complex blood vessels that filters the blood. Elevated blood sugar levels and high blood pressure damages these tissues leading to reduced functioning of the kidney. Ageing also has a negative impact on the kidneys. Being obese contributes to the risk of diabetes and hypertension making the kidneys work harder, damaging the tissues. Other factors that can lead to kidney damage are smoking, genetic illness, exposure to certain drugs and sedentary lifestyle.
How to keep your kidneys healthy?
Certain factors can contribute to the wellbeing of the kidney:
Stay Fit: The definition of exercise is not just limited to having a smaller waistline, regular exercising can help reduce the risk of developing chronic kidney disease. It also helps in reducing the blood pressure and boosts heart health, the two important factors to prevent kidney diseases.
Monitor blood sugar level: High blood pressure can be a major factor contributing to kidney damage. High blood pressure along with heart disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes can have a significant impact on the body. With the help of lifestyle and dietary changes, the blood sugar level can be lowered. A doctor should also be consulted for proper monitoring of the blood sugar level and consumption of the medicines if any.
Control blood sugar level: People with diabetes have high chances of developing kidney damage since the kidneys are forced to work harder to filter blood. If this is continued for a prolonged period of time, it may be life-threatening. Early consultation with the doctors can help prevent or reduce the damage.
Monitor weight and follow a healthy diet: People who are overweight are generally prone to a number of health conditions which contributes to the damage of the kidney. Consumption of a healthy diet which is low in sodium, processed meat, and other kidneys- damaging foods can help prevent diseases. Cauliflower, blueberries, fish and whole grains are some of the products are naturally low in sodium and are advisable to keep the kidney healthy.
Drinking plenty of fluids: Water helps clean sodium and toxins from the kidney and lowers the chances of chronic kidney disease. 2-3 litres of water should be consumed in a day. The other factors like climate, gender, exercise, pregnancy, breastfeeding should also determine the daily water intake. People with kidney stones in the past should consume a bit more water to prevent stone deposits in the future.
Avoid habits like smoking: Smoking damages the blood vessels which leads to slower blood flow throughout the body and to the kidneys.
A regular kidney function test is also a great way to know your kidneys health and to check for the possible changes required to help slow or prevent future damage.