Last week was World Kidney Day. The reason why this is so important is that 1.7 million Australians suffer from kidney disease and 1 in 3 Australians at risk of developing kidney disease. Our kidneys play such an important role in helping us to stay healthy and kidney health is often overlooked despite being a serious health problem! In this article we’ll give you a simple explanation of what the kidneys are, why they’re important and how you can help to keep your kidneys strong and healthy!
So, what exactly are the kidneys?
Your two kidneys are bean shaped and about the size of your fist. Despite their size these little organs are capable of some impressive things.
Their main role is to filter and remove waste products and excess fluid from your blood to make urine. In fact, every hour your entire blood supply cycles through your kidneys 12 times, adding up to a total of 200 litres of blood a day! Not only they help to remove waste products, but they also help to regulate blood pressure, make red blood cells, support bone health and produce vitamin D!
Main roles of the kidneys
- Removing excess fluid to make urine
- Blood pressure control
- Filtering and removing waste products from your blood
- Managing your body’s production of vitamin D
- Control blood pressure
- Make red blood cells
- Maintain strong and healthy bones
Who is at risk of kidney disease?
It’s important to know that there are particular conditions that increase your risk of kidney disease such as:
- High blood pressure
- Overweight or obese
- Heart problems
- Family history
- Over 60 years old
- Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin
- Kidney injury or family history of kidney disease
While some of these factors may be out of your control there are some simple diet and lifestyle changes you can make to help reduce your risk of kidney disease and to maintain healthy kidneys!
6 tips to keep your kidneys healthy!
1. Quit smoking
People who smoke are 3 times more likely to have kidney problems, furthermore smokers are 3 to 4 times more likely to have a stroke or heart attack! But in addition, you’ll be doing your body and your health a massive favour just by quitting smoking (1)
Quitting smoking can be tough, but it is possible! For more information on quitting smoking, you can call the Quitline on 137848 (13QUIT) or contact your local health centre for more information.
2. Lay off the booze!
A lot of us enjoy the occasional sip. However, excessive alcohol intake can lead to heart disease and high blood pressure increasing the risk of developing kidney disease (2).
Aim to drink no more than 4 standard drinks a day, and 10 standard drinks per week as the current Australian guidelines (3).
3. Get moving!
Being overweight or obese can contribute to developing kidney disease (4). Weight gain can occur when we have an energy balance. This is when we have more energy coming in from foods and not enough energy being used through movement that ends up being stored as excess body fat to be used as an energy source (5).
Aim to exercise for minimum 30 - 60 minutes a day to help reduce weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases and improve your overall health and general wellbeing!
4. Eat healthy
There are some simple diet tips that can help to support your kidneys. Kidney Health Australia recommend consuming a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, wholegrain cereals, lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, legumes and beans.
5. Don’t be too salty
Making sure you’re not overconsuming salt (sodium) is also important as too much salt can increase your blood pressure and be bad for both your heart and kidneys (6). Avoid overdoing the saltshaker and be aware or any packaged foods, processed foods and junk foods that typically contain large amounts of hidden salt!
6. No thanks I’m sweet enough
Excessive sugar in the diet can also be a big problem. Eating too much sugar can lead to weight gain, which in turn increases your risk of kidney and heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and some cancers (7).
Stick to water as much as possible and try to avoid soft drinks, energy drinks, fruit juice and sugary snacks as much as possible.
So, what the final verdict?
Just by following these simple 6 steps you can start to regain your health and help to keep your kidneys healthy and reduce your risk of kidney disease. It’s as simple as making some small diet changes, avoiding toxins and making exercise a priority!
If you have any questions or are interested in a nutrition consultation, feel free to email our head nutritionist Ben at email@example.com
This article does not constitute medical advice and does not take into consideration your personal circumstances. Please see your medical professional before implementing the above.