Let’s discover a bit about our kidneys, and what steps we can take to protect them
Kidneys. Many of us never give a moment’s thought to this precious pair of organs. We are so blessed that we don’t have to think about them! In healthy people, kidneys work silently and constantly, allowing us health — and life. People with kidney disease suffer daily from compromised kidney function. But if you’re not quite sure what kidneys are, and what exactly they do, that’s alright. Let’s discover a bit about our kidneys, and what steps we can take to protect them.
While some kidney diseases cannot be prevented, others can be prevented, to a certain extent, by taking good care of your body!
Taking Care of Your Kidneys
The following points can help keep your kidneys in top form:
- Exercising can help prevent kidney disease by preventing other conditions that often lead to kidney disease, such as high blood pressure and heart disease. All the more reason to get moving. Find a form of exercise that you enjoy: explore power-walks with friends, an exercise class, swimming, or dancing! Be consistent (and have fun).
- As always… eat right! Take the time to eat well-balanced meals, with whole-grains, veggies, and protein. Don’t forget some yummy fruit!
- Be aware of your sodium intake. (That’s salt, FYI.) Consuming excessive amounts of sodium can damage your kidneys, so check the ingredients in the food you eat. Be especially wary of processed foods, which can contain massive amounts of sodium. (Processed meats, soups, and salty snacks are big offenders.)
- Drink sufficient fluids! Even in the winter, make sure you get your eight cups, and in the summer or when you’re working hard, aim for at least two liters every day. Water is best. Kidney stones (which are exceedingly painful when the stones pass) are often caused by not drinking enough.
- Think twice before popping pills of any kind. Of course, when it’s prescription medication, make sure it’s coming from your doctor (not your friend or aunt). But even over the counter meds, like painkillers, can be bad for your kidneys (and liver) when you take them too often. Headache? Try resting and drinking water before reaching for the Advil.
The Scoop on Kidneys
You have two kidneys. Each kidney is bean-shaped and is roughly the size of a large fist. Your kidneys are nestled beneath your ribcage, one on each side of your spine, behind your stomach. Their most important job is to act as a filtering system for your blood: they clear out impurities and filter out waste products from your bloodstream. In addition, they produce hormones that take part in regulating your blood pressure, and they control the production of red blood cells. They also regulate the levels of salt and potassium in your body, as well as your pH levels. Last but not least, your kidneys take care of activating vitamins that allow your body to absorb calcium, which is important for building your bones (as well as other things, which we’ll cover in another issue).
DID YOU KNOW?
At any given minute, your kidneys are processing about 20 percent of your total blood volume.
A shocking one in ten Americans over the age of 20 show evidence of kidney disease.
(Originally featured in Teen Pages, Issue 913)
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