We are promoting kidney health awareness for World Kidney Day.
World Kidney Day is coming up fast on the 14th of March. It is an international awareness campaign to draw attention to the importance of kidney health. In the run up we thought we would take a close up look at this vital – and often overlooked – internal organ.
Most people have an idea of the role their kidneys perform in the body; but do you appreciate how important your kidneys are, what other functions they perform and how you can keep them as healthy as possible?
What do the Kidneys Do?
Each adult usually has two kidneys, although it is possible to live with just the one. The kidneys’ primary function is to filter harmful toxins out of the blood of and reduce the amount of excess water in our circulation.
Also, when food has been used by the body, waste is sent to the blood. This finds its way to the kidneys through specialised blood vessels, where the waste products are filtered out.
Without this important process, the toxins and excess fluid build-up in the body may cause a wide range of issues. These can include high blood pressure, extreme lethargy, persistent headaches and a wide range of other symptoms.
However, this is just the start of what our kidneys do for us.
What other functions do Kidneys Fulfil?
The kidneys also maintain the mineral, salt and water balance in the body, according to how hydrated the body is at any time. These mechanisms are the reason why, when someone has not drunk enough water their fluids become more concentrated. The tell-tale sign of this is when urine becomes more concentrated too.
As well as filtering nasty stuff out of the blood and maintaining its water content, your kidneys ensure that vital substances, such as vitamins and amino acids remain there – and they don’t stop there. By secreting hormones and keeping a constant level of electrolytes in the bloodstream they play a key role in maintaining a chemical and hormonal balance in the body. The majority of cells in the body need a stable composition of elements such as potassium and sodium and it is the kidneys that make this possible.
This process helps to produce red blood cells, maintain the health of our bones and regulate blood pressure.
How can you improve your kidney health?
What is good for kidneys? Increase your overall health and improve kidney function naturally by following the steps below. Even if you just aim for a few of them at a time, these small changes can go a long way to improve kidney health.
Focus on staying hydrated
Drinking plenty of water will help keep the kidneys clear sodium, urea and toxins from the body – this can significantly lower the risk of developing chronic kidney disease.
Keep fit and active
Exercise and an active lifestyle is great for lowering blood pressure and this leads to a reduced risk of kidney disease.
Eat healthily and keep your weight in check
Aside from the obvious health benefits, a healthy diet and weight can help prevent conditions associated with kidney disease, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Cut out smoking
Smoking slows blood flow to the kidneys, impairing their ability to function properly. Cutting out smoking will improve kidney function so they can work at their maximum.
Maintain healthy blood pressure
High blood pressure can cause damage to your kidneys. By maintaining a diet low in salt and saturated fats you can help to protect yourself.
Test your kidney function
If you have a family history of kidney disease, or have high blood pressure or diabetes it may be a good idea to have your kidney function tested regularly. This is also prudent if you are of South Asian or African-Caribbean ethnic background. If any these apply, talk to your GP about kidney function tests.
National Kidney Federation
The National Kidney Federation, as part of a network of charities called the Kidney Charities Together Group, works to raise awareness of the importance of understanding and looking after our Kidneys. They support all kidney patients, including operating a dedicated helpline for kidney patients. Find out more on the National Kidney Federation website.
Free Spirit are pleased to join the National Kidney Federation in supporting World Kidney Day in the UK.