Nephrology (Kidney Disease and Hypertension) is the specialty of Plessen Healthcare’s founders, Drs. Jan Tawakol and Tasnim Khan. Learn more about nine kidney health tips you can incorporate into your daily life to improve your kidney health, overall health, and general well-being.
Your kidneys are about the size of your fist and have several functions. They filter waste, toxins, and excess water out of your bloodstream by creating urine that is stored in your bladder and then eliminated from the body. They help to keep minerals (such as sodium, potassium, and calcium) balanced in your body and they activate a form of vitamin D that helps your body absorb calcium for building bones and regulating muscle function. Kidneys also create hormones that help control blood pressure and stimulate bone marrow to make red blood cells. They are remarkable and important organs in your body. A person can live with just one kidney, and even if kidneys are not functioning, their function can be replaced with daily dialysis or kidney transplantation.
Maintaining good kidney health is important to your overall health and general well-being.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a serious condition affecting as many as 37 million Americans. Many may not even be aware they have the condition as there are no symptoms. CKD is a progressive disease and can eventually lead to kidney failure. The good news is that by adopting a healthy lifestyle and managing the illness, the progression can be slowed.
Here are Nine Tips to Help You Maintain Good Kidney Health
- Drink Plenty of Water. Especially here in the islands with our warm weather, it is important to stay hydrated. This is also the best way to help prevent kidney stones. You should try to drink between half an ounce of water for each pound you weigh, every day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, that would be 75 ounces of water a day.
- Control Your Blood Sugar. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of kidney failure. Avoid processed foods and refined sugars. Be sure to incorporate fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables into your diet. Some that are particularly good for kidney health include red bell peppers, red grapes, apples, raspberries, cranberries, strawberries, blueberries, cauliflower, garlic, and onions. Egg whites, fish, and olive oil provide healthy fats and proteins. Eating a diet rich in healthy and low-fat foods can reduce your risk of diabetes and high blood pressure.
- Monitor Your Blood Pressure. High blood pressure is also a leading cause of damage to the kidneys. And if combined with diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol, it can have a serious effect on overall health due to early development of organ damage. Be sure you are regularly monitoring your blood pressure and keeping in touch with your healthcare provider. Reducing salt and processed foods, monitoring alcohol intake, keeping good sleep habits, and incorporating a daily meditation practice to manage stress can help lower blood pressure.
- Stay Active and Fit. Regular exercise, even just daily 30-minute walks, can help to lower your blood pressure and improve blood sugars, and keep your heart healthy – all of which can help to prevent kidney damage. Choose something you enjoy that keeps you moving like walking with a friend, dancing, or swimming that you can incorporate into your daily life.
- Aim for a Healthy Weight. Obesity leads to a higher risk for conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease all of which can cause organ damage, including the kidneys. Focus on eating healthy, reducing processed foods, sugar, and salt, and staying active. If you are overweight or suffer from chronic health conditions, be sure to consult your healthcare provider before starting any new or strenuous exercise regimes. Avoid fad diets and aim for a sustainable diet and lifestyle.
- Don’t Smoke. Smoking restricts blood flow to the kidneys, in addition to affecting heart health. Smoking raises the risk of kidney cancer by approximately 50%.
- Beware of OTC Pain medications. OTC (Over the Counter) pain medications like Ibuprofen and Naproxen and other Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) taken regularly over time can damage your kidneys, raise your blood pressure, and cause stomach problems.
- Get Plenty of Sleep. Your body uses sleep time to repair itself. Getting a regular 7 to 8 hours per night can help to improve your overall health. If you have difficulty falling asleep, try some sleep hygiene practices such as turning off any devices at least an hour before bedtime. Taking a warm bath or shower within a couple of hours of going to bed may help you fall asleep faster.
- Meet Regularly with Your Healthcare Provider. If you have a family history of hypertension, diabetes and chronic kidney disease or other health risk factors, be sure to meet regularly with your doctor to monitor your kidney and heart health.
Drs. Jan Tawakol and Tasnim Khan each have over 20 years of experience in internal medicine and nephrology. They treat such ailments as hypertension (high blood pressure), kidney stones, chronic kidney disease, and kidney failure, which can be managed using dialysis. In addition, they are two of only a few physicians in the United States to be certified in the complete spectrum of dialysis access related care and have extensive experience, in excess of 12,000 cases, across multiple procedures.