Like many of our body’s internal workings, we don’t pay much mind to our kidneys unless there’s something wrong. But these vital organs deserve attention even when they’re functioning well. By removing waste from your blood via urine, they act as an all-natural filtration system for your entire body. And their responsibilities don’t end there: kidneys also help to control blood pressure and regulate substances in your blood.

Your kidneys are vulnerable, however, to several conditions, from kidney stones to chronic kidney disease. Taking steps to care for them now can help prevent these and other illnesses from developing.

Six Simple Kidney Health Tips

1. Control your blood pressure.

High blood pressure taxes your kidneys. Left unaddressed, it narrows and hardens your arteries, making it difficult for your kidneys to get the blood they need to perform well. Unfortunately, high blood pressure often goes unnoticed because it rarely produces symptoms.

The first step to maintaining healthy blood pressure levels is to have yours checked. If it’s higher than the range considered healthy for your body, you may need to begin monitoring it regularly. Lifestyle changes such as dietary modifications and weight loss can help you control your blood pressure, and medications are also available if needed.

2. Watch your blood sugar.

Another metric important to kidney health is your blood sugar. When it gets too high, you can develop insulin resistance, meaning your body can no longer use the glucose (sugar) in your blood properly. Your kidneys will then have to work harder to filter your blood.

If you have high blood sugar, dietary modifications and routine exercise can help you prevent diabetes. If you’ve already been diagnosed with diabetes, closely following your care plan will reduce your risk of kidney damage.

3. Stay active.

Routine exercise reduces the risk of chronic kidney disease, among dozens of other conditions. And best of all, it doesn’t need to be intense to provide these benefits. Adults should aim for 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity, which can include walking, gardening, and any other low-impact activities that boost your heart rate.

4. Maintain a healthy diet.

A nutritious diet has countless benefits for your body, including better kidney health. Lean protein, plenty of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and whole grains will give your kidneys the nutrients they need to function well. Just as importantly, avoid or significantly limit processed foods. Heavily processed meats and fried food in particular are high in sodium and can spike your blood pressure.

5. Stay hydrated.

Getting plenty of fluids will help your kidneys clear away toxins, including excess sodium. Over time, this can decrease your risk of chronic kidney disease and kidney stones. Stick to mostly water for hydration without added calories, sugars, or salt. Women need about 11.5 cups of water per day, while men should aim for 15.5 cups. But it doesn’t all have to be sipped: about 20% of your daily water intake should come from foods like fibrous fruit and vegetables.

6. Avoid smoking

One of the easiest ways to keep your kidneys healthy is to quit smoking or to continue avoiding it if you don’t smoke currently. Smoking causes systemic changes, including blood vessel damage that restricts blood flow to your kidneys. It can also lead to or worsen diabetic kidney disease, cause surges in blood pressure, and increase your risk of certain kidney cancers. When you quit, your risk decreases, and benefits increase the longer you go without smoking.

Concerned About Your Kidneys? Visit Morgan Medical Center

Proactive wellness is just one of the pillars of care we deliver through our comprehensive family medicine department. In addition, Morgan Medical Center’s surgical services include state-of-the-art equipment and specialists who can perform kidney-specific care such as imaging and biopsies. To schedule an appointment in family medicine, call (706) 438-1275 or ask your doctor about scheduling your next surgery at Morgan Medical Center.