Kidneys are essential to having a healthy body. The most important function of kidney filtering waste products, excess water, and other impurities out of the blood.The waste products are stored in the bladder and later expelled from the body as urine.
The main function of kidney is to filter waste products and excess water from blood through urine, but kidneys also regulate pH, salt, and potassium levels in the body, and they produce hormones that regulate blood pressure and control the production of red blood cells. The kidneys are also responsible for activating a form of vitamin D that helps the body absorb calcium to build bones and modulate muscle function.
How much fluid should we drink to help keep kidneys healthy?
The human body can last weeks without food, but only days without fluid. It has no way to store the fluid it needs to replenish the blood, in order for body functions to work properly, to make up for losses from lungs, skin, urine and faeces. Fluid regulates your body’s temperature through perspiration, the kidney removes waste via urine and carries nutrients and other substances throughout the body.
So what should we drink?
Fresh supplies of fluid are needed every day, however, there is no set amount to drink each day to avoid dehydration. Water is the recommended fluid to satisfy thirst and is nature’s choice. It is calorie-free, inexpensive and readily available and choosing to drink water instead will have a positive impact on your health. It can also contain fluoride which is good for teeth.
Listen to your thirst – and keep in mind that the right level of fluid intake for any individual depends on many factors including gender, exercise, climate, health conditions, pregnancy and breast feeding. People who have already had a kidney stone are advised to drink 2 to 3 litres of water daily to lessen the risk of forming a new stone.
What can you do for your kidneys?
Kidney diseases are silent killers, which will largely affect your quality of life. There are however several easy ways to reduce the risk of developing kidney disease.
Keep fit and active
Keeping fit helps to reduce your blood pressure and therefore reduces the risk of Chronic Kidney Disease.
The concept “on the move for kidney health” is a worldwide collective march involving the public, celebrities and professionals moving across a public area by walking, running and cycling. Why not join them – by whatever means you prefer! Check out the events section of the WKD website for more information.
Keep regular control of your blood sugar level
About half of people who have diabetes develop kidney damage, so it is important for people with diabetes to have regular tests to check their kidney functions.
Kidney damage from diabetes can be reduced or prevented if detected early. It is important to keep control of blood sugar levels with the help of doctors or pharmacists, who are always happy to help.
Monitor your blood pressure
Although many people may be aware that high blood pressure can lead to a stroke or heart attack, few know that it is also the most common cause of kidney damage.
The normal blood pressure level is 120/80. Between this level and 139/89, you are considered prehypertensive and should adopt lifestyle and dietary changes. At 140/90 and above, you should discuss the risks with your doctor and montior your blood pressure level regularly. High blood pressure is especially likely to cause kidney damage when associated with other factors like diabetes, high cholesterol and Cardio- Vascular Diseases.
Eat healthy and keep your weight in check
This can help prevent diabetes, heart disease and other conditions associated with Chronic Kidney Disease.
Reduce your salt intake. The recommended sodium intake is 5-6 grams of salt per day (around a teaspoon). In order to reduce your salt intake, try and limit the amount of processed and restaurant food and do not add salt to food. It will be easier to control your intake if you prepare the food yourself with fresh ingredients. For more information on nutrition and kidney friendly cooking, visit our nutrition page
Maintain a healthy fluid intake
Although clinical studies have not reached an agreement on the ideal quantity of water and other fluids we should consume daily to maintain good health, traditional wisdom has long suggested drinking 1.5 to 2 litres (3 to 4 pints) of water per day.
Consuming plenty of fluid helps the kidneys clear sodium, urea and toxins from the body which, in turn, results in a “significantly lower risk” of developing chronic kidney disease, according to researchers in Australia and Canada. The findings, the researchers said, do not advocate “aggressive fluid loading”, which can cause side effects, but they do provide evidence that moderately increased water intake, around two litres daily, may reduce the risk of decline in kidney function. It’s important to keep in mind that the right level of fluid intake for any individual depends on many factors including gender, exercise, climate, health conditions, pregnancy and breast feeding. In addition, people who have already had a kidney stone are advised to drink 2 to 3 litres of water daily to lessen the risk of forming a new stone.
Do not smoke
Smoking slows the flow of blood to the kidneys. When less blood reaches the kidneys, it impairs their ability to function properly. Smoking also increases the risk of kidney cancer by about 50 percent.
Do not take over-the-counter pills on a regular basis
Common drugs such non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen are known to cause kidney damage and disease if taken regularly.
Such medications probably do not pose significant danger if your kidneys are relatively healthy and you use them for emergencies only, but if you are dealing with chronic pain, such as arthritis or back pain, work with your doctor to find a way to control your pain without putting your kidneys at risk.
Get your kidney function checked if you have one or more of the ‘high risk’ factors
1-you have diabetes
2-you have hypertension
3-you are obese
4-one of your parents or other family members suffers from kidney disease
5-you are of African, Asian, or Aboriginal origin