The kidneys play a major role in maintaining your general health and wellbeing. They play an essential role in removing toxins out of the body and their condition should never be underrated.
Any kidney malfunction can result in waste build-up that can seriously affect your health. Unfortunately, the number of people suffering from a kidney disease is increasing, with over 20 million patients in the United States alone.
Kidneys perform several vital functions in the body, including:
- Water level balancing: One of the roles of the kidneys is the chemical breakdown of urine, for they react to changes in the body’s water level throughout the day. This means that in case the water intake decreases, the kidneys adjust accordingly and leave water in the body instead of helping excrete it.
- Waste excretion: Kidneys filter out toxins, excess salts, and urea, a nitrogen-based waste created by cell metabolism. Urea is synthesized in the liver and transported through the blood to the kidneys for removal.
- Red blood cell regulation: If kidneys lack oxygen, they alarm the body by producing erythropoietin, a hormone that stimulates the bone marrow to produce more oxygen-carrying red blood cells.
- Blood pressure regulation: In order to filter the blood, the kidneys need constant pressure, so when it drops too low, the kidneys increase the pressure.
- Acid regulation: When cells metabolize, they produce acids, so it is the kidneys that balance the levels of these chemicals.
Kidney disease can be caused by numerous factors, including diabetes, infection and hypertension. Hypertension can be a precursor of kidney disease later on. This is why you should control and regularly check your glucose and blood pressure levels to make sure they are in their normal range.
Moreover, kidney disease can also be hereditary, which means that the chances that you will be affected with this issue if some member of your family has suffered from a kidney disease. Drinking, smoking, overuse of medications,unhealthy diet, and lack of physical activitycan also contribute to occurrence of kidney issues.
Early signs of kidney disease
Usually, the symptoms of kidney disease appear in the very late stages, when the kidneys are failing or when there are large amounts of protein in the urine.
The early signs are quite general, which often makes patients disregard them as insignificant or relate them to some other illness. Because of this, only 10% of people with chronic kidney disease know that they have it. Furthermore, your kidneys can easily adapt to the infection as they lose their function.
It’s of vital importance to be able to recognize the early signs of kidney failure as leaving these signs undetected or untreated at an early stage, can do more damage later on.
Some of the initial signs and symptoms of kidney failure are the following:
- Changes in urine colour (for example, blood in the urine or frequency of urination)
- Sleeping issues
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fatigue and lack of strength
- Lack of focus and mental clarity
- Loss of appetite and metallic taste in the mouth
- Loss of breath
- Skin rash or chronic tingling
- Pain in the back, just above the waist (where the kidneys are)
- Muscle cramps
- Swollen legs or feet
- Poor circulation
In case you notice some of these symptoms above, it is important to visit your doctor as soon as possible, in order to prevent further development of the disease.
How to prevent kidney disease and strengthen your kidneys?
Kidney disease is a serious health condition,for it means that one of the major and vital bodily functions is impaired, and that would certainly lead to a growing number of health complications.
So, prevention is the best remedy, since kidney damages cannot be undone! This means that you should make some changes in your diet and your lifestyle, in general, to reduce the risk of kidney damage.
Changes in nutrition
- You should maintain a healthy, balanced diet, low in cholesterol and saturated fat.
- Starving yourself in order to lose weight is absolutely not recommended, so sufficient calorie intake is essential for kidney health.
- Reduce the amount of sodium you ingest. Keep your salt and potassium intake at a low level.
- Your shopping list should start with watermelons, apples and berries.
- Excessive protein intake is harmful for the kidneys, so you should maintain a low protein diet.
- Drink around 8 glasses of liquid, preferably water, every day, for proper hydration is of major importance.
- You should keep your blood pressure balanced (around 130/80), since that is of vital importance, for proper kidney function is largely dependent on normal blood pressure.
- In case you have a deficiency of calcium and vitamin D, you should take supplements.
- Avoid taking painkillers and steroids as overuse of these can seriously damage your kidneys.
- Regular exercise is also very important. In that way, you will reduce the risk of diabetes, obesity and hypertension, and you will strengthen your muscles, which will positively influence your kidney health.
- Smoking and drinking severely compromise your kidney health, so you should avoid these harmful habits.