Kidneys might be the most important organs you don’t think about. They filter blood, help control blood pressure and regulate fluid balance in the body. But when the delicate tissues of this organ are damaged, these basic functions can fail, leading to a life without quality — or sometimes without life at all.
But that doesn’t mean it’s too late to start taking care of your kidneys:. Small changes can make big differences. Here are some simple ways to keep your kidneys healthy:
- Stay hydrated
When you’re well-hydrated, your kidneys can easily do their job of filtering waste from the body. But water needs vary by person and by climate; many people need more than 8 cups per day. And beware of over-hydrating — it can be dangerous for those with medical conditions such as heart failure. If you have questions about how much water is right for you, talk to your doctor.
- Eat less salt
Drinking water is good for kidney health, but eating salty food isn’t. Decreasing salt intake will immediately improve blood pressure. In addition to avoiding the saltshaker, pay attention to nutrition labels and avoid processed foods with high sodium intake.
- Control your blood pressure
Keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level is one of the most important things you can do for your kidneys. When you keep your blood pressure under control, you reduce the risk of damage to your kidneys, heart, brain, and other organs in your body.
- Keep active
Keeping active helps keep your weight down and reduces stress on your body overall. Exercise increases blood flow to all of the organs in your body including your kidneys. Aerobic exercise like brisk walking, jogging, or swimming for 30 minutes a day is recommended.
- Watch what you eat
A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help you avoid developing high blood pressure or diabetes, two risk factors for kidney disease. Also, limit salt (a lot of it is hidden in processed foods) because too much sodium can be harmful to the kidneys and heart.