Whenever we see an article with a list of ways to improve something, we seem to jump to the points and skip the first bit … we hope you don’t do that here! Healthy kidneys are important when applying for any kind of risk cover, so naturally an article about keeping your kidney’s in great health should be read fast.
These five points are actually great for your overall health. Not only will they benefit your kidneys, but they will improve the health of all your major systems: cardiovascular, nervous, digestive, respiratory, reproductive, skeletal and, of course, your urinary system that includes the kidneys.
All in all, they’re five great habits to build into your lifestyle if you want to enjoy your life to its full potential!
1. Stay hydrated
Always remember to drink water, every day. Not juice, not coffee, not tea, not milk: water. You can drink the others, but be deliberate in drinking water. Whether it’s in a bottle that you carry around with you or in a glass, staying hydrated helps your kidneys function properly. Your urine should be straw-coloured or paler – if it’s any darker it’s a sign of dehydration. However, if you’re taking vitamin B supplements, they will cause your urine to be considerably darker about 4-6 hours after taking them.
Every time you have a hot drink (tea, coffee, hot chocolate etc), have a glass of water. When you go out to a restaurant, before you place your first orders, ask for a glass of water, this will sate your appetite and you will drink less alcohol, eat less and save money! Before you go to the shops, have a glass of water and you will be less likely to buy snacky treats whilst you’re walking through the aisles.
2. Eat healthily
A balanced diet ensures that you get all the minerals and vitamins that your body needs. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and grains, such as wholewheat pasta, bread and rice. Don’t eat too much salty or fatty food.
3. Reduce alcohol consumption and don’t smoke
Cigarettes contain over 4000 chemicals (of which at least 43 are carcinogenic) and 400 toxins, all of which get filtered through the kidneys. Drinking too much alcohol means that your kidneys have to work harder to remove toxins from your blood. If you are a smoker, try to stop smoking completely and limit yourself to two small drinks a day for men and one small drink a day for women.
4. Monitor your blood pressure
Remember to have your blood pressure checked regularly. Raised blood pressure has no symptoms but it can increase your risk of kidney problems. A simple, quick and painless blood pressure check is available free of charge at most Dischem and Clicks pharmacies. If you’re a member at Virgin Health Clubs, you can use their testing machines for blood pressure.
If your blood pressure is higher than it should be, your GP can suggest lifestyle changes or, if necessary, prescribe medication to reduce your blood pressure and reduce the strain on your kidneys. (Normal is considered around 120/80)
Our diet is responsible for between 70-90% of our weight management.
5. Keep slim to help your kidneys
There’s a joke that goes a little like this: “Of course I have a six pack, it’s under my belly!”
The truth is, you do. We all have the muscles, we just can’t see them if there’s too much fat covering them. Whilst most of us rationalise our softer parts as being a part of the ageing process, they can be the sign of serious health risks in the future.
Being too heavy, amongst other things, raises your blood pressure, which is bad for your kidneys. Try to keep yourself at a healthy weight by keeping active and not overeating.
Having said that, exercise is a necessary component in weight loss. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking, cycling or swimming, each week a week. This is less than 30 minutes a day!