The key factors in keeping your kidneys healthy

April 25, 2008

As we get older, it is vital to keep your kidneys functioning at their optimum best and there are two very simple ways to do that which I will explain shortly.

First do you recognise the amazing job your kidneys do for you? Each one is not much bigger than a pack of playing cards and weighs only 4-5 ounces and yet they handle nearly 25 percent of the total amount of blood that your heart pumps while you’re resting and they consume the same amount of your body’s supply of oxygen. They need all that blood and oxygen because they have five critical functions to perform for you:

1. Keeping your blood clean by filtering it of waste products and eliminating these waste products from your body as urine.

2. Helping maintain your body’s fluid composition.

3. Stimulating the production of red blood cells in your bone marrow by secreting a hormone called erythropoietin.

4. Helping maintain your blood pressure by producing an enzyme called rennin

5. Convert vitamin D to its most active form for use by the body.

One of the most vital functions your kidneys carry out for you is in the process of creating urine through an incredibly complex filtering system and tip number one is to make it easier for it to do that by drinking plain water when you are thirsty. Small amounts drunk regularly is better than a large amount in a short period of time.

Those two tips for keeping our kidneys health as we age?

The first is to not eat too much protein as it leads to greater workload on your kidneys, which must filter a by-product of protein metabolism called blood urea nitrogen (BUN) out of your blood. How much is too much? Well, if you have healthy kidneys, you can safely eat up to half of your body weight (in pounds) in grams per day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds and are in good health, you can safely eat up to 75 grams of protein from minimally processed foods per day. If you have problems with your kidneys, you should certainly decrease this amount to reduce the strain on your system. If you are not sure, then ask your doctor to monitor you as there are tests you can take to determine how well your kidneys are processing protein.

The second is not to take Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin on a regular or frequent basis as they are known to cause kidney damage and disease. Such over-the-counter pain medications probably don’t pose significant danger if your kidneys are relatively healthy and you use them for emergencies only, so we are back to my cold again – thank goodness I don’t get more than 2 or 3 a year!

In the USA, one in nine adults has kidney disease and the best advice as ever is to be preventive and proactive. The same old boring, essential, stuff about a healthy non-processed diet, plenty of rest, exercise and freedom from stress. Take your body on holiday every day and get out into the fresh air – your body, including your kidneys, will thank you for it.


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