Give Your Kidneys a Vacation  with These 7
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September 17, 2015

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

Your kidneys, those two fist-sized organs that filter water and
waste from your blood, are overworked and over-stressed.
Did you know that, according to the National Kidney
Foundation, over half of all adults in the US are at risk of
developing chronic kidney disease at some point in their life?

Wouldn’t it be great if you could give your kidneys a well-
earned break? A vacation for your kidneys – how does that

Scientists tell us that certain lifestyle changes and healthy
habits can improve your kidney function and prevent kidney
disease and other kidney problems. How do you take the
pressure off your kidneys? What can you change to improve
your kidney health?

What Happens When Your Kidneys Are Unhealthy?

The kidneys make urine, and through this process help to get
rid of water and waste from your bloodstream.

Your kidneys also help to control your blood pressure. So if
your kidneys are unhealthy or damaged, they can’t do their
job of filtering the blood. Waste builds up in the body. Over
time, kidney damage occurs. When the problem happens over
many years it is called chronic kidney disease – and more than
20 million Americans have the condition, according to the
National Kidney Disease Education Program. As chronic kidney
disease progresses, the waste build-up leads to high blood
pressure, bone weakness, nerve damage, and anemia. At
some point the kidneys stop functioning altogether, leading to
the urgent need for dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Kidney disease is not the only problem overworked kidneys
need to deal with. In addition, men and women are at risk of
painful kidney stones where tiny crystals stick together in
urine to form painful lumps.

What Are The Symptoms of Unhealthy Kidneys?

In the beginning, kidney disease has no signs or symptoms.
You probably won’t realize you have kidney disease until the
condition is advanced. The only way to know is by taking a
blood and urine test. If kidney disease is caught early it can be
treated before it leads to kidney failure.

Who Gets Kidney Disease?

Researchers at RTI International recently found that almost
17 percent of adults aged 30 and older will have chronic
kidney disease by 2030. Some people are more at risk of
kidney disease than others. For example, you are more likely
to have kidney damage if you have diabetes (44 percent of
people on dialysis have their kidney failure caused by
diabetes, according to the National Kidney Disease Education
high blood pressure (which is the second leading
cause of kidney disease),
heart disease, or a family history of
kidney failure.

How Do You Help Your Kidneys Do Their Job Properly?

It is important to give your kidneys a break by making sure
you are not damaging your health with high blood pressure.
Make sure your cholesterol levels are healthy, and eat minimal
amounts of sodium. Keep physically active, lose weight if you
need to, and if you have diabetes make sure it is property

We checked out the recent scientific evidence to find the
following 7 habits you should adopt to give your kidneys a
well-deserved rest.

Lose Weight to Promote Kidney Function

One of the worst things for your general health is being
overweight or obese. And piling on the pounds also causes
problems for your kidneys.

A 2013 study from Johns Hopkins University shows that obese
people are twice as likely as people at a normal weight to
develop kidney disease.

That bears repeating -- obesity increases your risk of kidney
disease by 100%.

And a 2009 study from the Norwegian University of Science
and Technology reveals that people with prehypertension are
not at risk of kidney disease if their BMI is below 30.0 kg/m2
– even though prehypertension (the step before high blood
pressure) seriously increases the risk of kidney disease.

Take steps to reduce your weight if you need to, particularly
by cutting down on sugar, saturated fat, and processed foods.

Stop Smoking and Give Your Kidneys a Break

The same 2013 study from Johns Hopkins University shows
that smokers are a massive 60 percent more likely to develop
kidney disease than people who do not smoke. The study
looked at a range of 2,300 people over 15 years as part of the
Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA)
Study. The statistics are clear --- if you want to take care of
your kidneys, stop smoking now.

Eat A Healthy Diet to Give Your Kidneys a Vacation

If your diet is bad – full of processed and red meats, sugar-
sweetened drinks, and sodium – you are more likely to have
unhealthy kidneys, and more likely to develop kidney disease,
according to 2013 research by Johns Hopkins University.

What's a "kidney-friendly diet"?  A diet high in fruit, nuts,
whole grains, low-fat dairy and legumes helps promote the
health of your kidneys.

A 2014 study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham
also shows that a "Southern-style diet" high in processed and
fried foods, sweet drinks, and organ meats is connected to
higher death rates in kidney disease patients --- people eating
this kind of diet are 50 percent more likely to die from the

Apologies to Colonel Sanders and Paula Deen but we have to
go easy on that delicious Southern cooking to save our

Bye-bye to fried chicken, fried chicken sliders, and fried
burgers, hello to healthy kidneys.

Boost Kidney Health - Eat a Mediterranean Diet

You can go further than simply cutting out processed meats,
saturated fat and sweetened sodas.

A 2014 study by the Columbia University Medical Center in
New York shows that following a specific Mediterranean-style
diet can significantly lower your risk of chronic kidney disease.

The scientists found that those who ate closest to the
Mediterranean diet of plant-based foods, whole grains, fish,
poultry, and healthy fats like olive oil had a 50 percent lower
risk of kidney disease.

Avoid High Protein Diets for Optimum Kidney Health

On the other hand, eating a diet high in protein could be
causing your kidneys harm. A 2014 study from the University
of Granada in Spain shows that high-protein diets increase
your risk of kidney stones and other kidney problems.

In the study scientists fed rats a 45 percent protein diet
compared to a diet with normal protein levels. Rats on the
high protein diet lost weight but the weight of their kidneys
increased by 22 percent and they had lower levels of citrate in
the urine, which equates to a higher risk of kidney stones.

Never Combine Alcohol and Painkillers to Prevent Kidney

New research shows that even light consumption of alcohol
with the common painkiller paracetamol (Tylenol) increases
the risk to your kidneys, says a 2013 study from the Mayo

If you frequently take paracetamol or often drink a lot of
alcohol, you will eventually damage your kidneys. But putting
the two habits together at a milder level could have the same
effect – your risk of kidney damage could increase by up to
123 percent.  

Drink More Water to Decrease the Risk of Kidney Stones

Boost your kidney health by increasing your intake of water –
if you up the intake when you previously did not drink enough
(you need to be producing about two liters of urine a day)
you reduce your risk of developing a
kidney stone, according
to the American College of Physicians.

Increasing your fluid intake throughout the day decreases the
risk of stone by at least half, according to the experts.


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