Let’s face it — you probably don’t spend much time thinking about your kidneys on any given day. However, without these vital organs, you die — and not in a comfortable way. It pays to do what you can to keep them healthy.
How can you prevent kidney failure? Here are nine suggestions for keeping the organs responsible for filtering toxins from your system operating at peak efficiency.
1. Control Your Blood Sugar
Your kidneys are responsible for acting as a sieve to remove toxins from your body. The filtration system inside these vital organs consists of tiny blood vessels, and over time, excess sugar intake can cause them to narrow and become clogged.
When your blood supply is insufficient, your body begins shedding albumin, a type of protein responsible for transporting toxins. Eventually, these hazardous substances accumulate in your bloodstream, leading to disease — including kidney failure.
2. Quit Smoking
Smoking is notorious for narrowing arteries and veins and increasing your blood pressure. That’s because nicotine and other chemicals irritate the linings of your vessels and cause them to become inflamed.
When this happens to the vessels in your kidneys, they don’t get a sufficient blood supply. While it is challenging to kick the habit, thousands of people smoked their last cigarette last year — you can do it. Fortunately, you can find tons of free resources online and or by contacting your local health department.
3. Lay Off the Sauce
It may be the season of indulgence, but alcohol damages your kidneys in multiple ways. One injury it inflicts is wreaking havoc with your blood sugar. Drinks such as beer and wine contain simple carbohydrates that may spike your levels quickly.
Conversely, if you have Type 1 diabetes, your blood sugar may plummet after a night of overindulging in the hard stuff. Some drinks, like gin, are low-carb-diet friendly, but that doesn’t make them healthy. Please limit your intake to no more than one or two drinks daily.
4. Lower Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure puts you at risk for a host of health problems. Part of how to prevent kidney failure involves keeping your systolic and diastolic levels under 140/90.
Fortunately, many ways to lower your blood pressure naturally also benefit multiple organs, including your heart and kidneys.
- Exercise regularly: Working out helps you to control your weight, blood sugar and stress levels.
- Limit caffeine: Maybe you can’t wake up without a cup or two of joe, but please don’t guzzle it all day. Too much increases your anxiety levels and makes you pee more often — which puts pressure on your kidneys.
- Eat potassium-rich foods: While these benefit your heart by counteracting the damaging impact of excess salt, any decrease in blood pressure will benefit your kidneys.
5. Decrease Your Salt Intake
Kidney stones can cause excruciating pain when they pass. While they usually do so with the help of pain relievers and drinking plenty of water, severe cases might require surgery.
Unfortunately, population studies show that kidney stones increase your risk of failure, so pay attention if you have this risk factor in your family. One of the wisest ways to prevent future stones is to cut down on salt intake. Your kidneys filter excess sodium, but they shut down and don’t perform their job as effectively when they become inundated.
6. Reduce Your Meat Intake
Meat, particularly red meat, is a rich protein source. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a dark side. Animal proteins generate high blood acid levels, and when these organs can’t process it quickly enough, it causes damage.
One study from Singapore found that eating pork, in particular, increased the risk of end-stage renal disease. When this condition occurs, the kidneys stop working — patients must undergo routine dialysis or have a transplant.
7. Eat Oxalate-Rich Foods in Moderation
There are four types of kidney stones, but the most frequently seen are calcium oxalate stones. Some experts believe that you can prevent future formations by reducing foods rich in oxalates.
However, many of the foods containing these substances offer substantial health benefits, too. For example, spinach and swiss chard both have high oxalate content, but they are also powerhouses of vitamins and antioxidants. It’s better to eat the foods below in moderation rather than eliminate them:
- Swiss chard
- Potato chips
- French fries
- Bran flakes
8. Research Your Risk Factors
Knowledge is power. Part of how to prevent kidney failure involves knowing your risk for the disease. The best way to gather data is to simply ask — if you can.
However, some people don’t know who their birth parents or other family members are. If you fall into this category, you’ll have to rely on routine checkups to evaluate your health risks.
9. Get Routine Tests
Fortunately, routine blood tests can reveal much about your kidney function. Plus, they are minimally invasive — a blood or urine draw often does the trick. If you don’t like needles, 2020 did give you one uplifting bit of perspective — it’s not nearly as bad as a COVID-19 nasal swab.
If you have diabetes or are over 50 with a family history, get tested once per year. Otherwise, discuss the best testing schedule with your doctor — early kidney disease often has no symptoms, and routine monitoring is your best shot of rapid detection and treatment.
Learn How to Prevent Kidney Failure With These 9 Suggestions
You might not spend much time wondering how to prevent kidney failure each day, but a problem with these organs can disrupt your entire life. Give them the TLC they deserve with the above tips.