The fastest-growing, noncommunicable disease in the United States is kidney disease. Kidney disease kills more women and men in the United States each year than either breast or prostate cancer.
And yet, how much attention have you paid to your kidneys and their function? If you’re like most adults, not much. Your kidneys are small but powerful vital organs that filter out and excrete wastes, acids, and fluids through your urine.
Your kidneys also maintain a healthy balance of salts, water, and key minerals — such as sodium, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium — in your bloodstream. In addition, kidneys produce hormones that:
- Control your blood pressure
- Make red blood cells
- Maintain bone strength and health
When your kidneys aren’t functioning optimally, you may develop one or more painful kidney stones, like 19% of men and 9% of women in the US do during their lifetimes. Or, you could become one of the 50,000 men and 30,000 women who develop kidney cancer each year.
Alex Lesani, MD, is an expert urologist who believes prevention is the best form of medicine. At our offices in Las Vegas, Nevada, we help you monitor your kidney health and treat any problems as soon as possible.
How can you keep your powerhouse kidneys strong? The following are five steps for better kidney health.
1. Help yourself to hydration
Your kidneys need fluids to filter out waste products from your blood and produce urine that excretes them. Pick foods that are naturally rich in water content, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Also, drink up to three liters of healthy liquids daily, such as:
- Plain, flat water
- Fruit-and-veggie-infused water
- Water with lemon juice
- Green tea
- Black tea
- Herbal teas
Eating soup and drinking broth increases your hydration levels. Avoid any beverages sweetened with sugar or corn syrup or that are high in sodium, such as sports drinks. Carbonated drinks and alcoholic beverages are dehydrating, so steer clear of them, too.
2. Stamp out sugar
Don’t just avoid sugar in your beverages; keep it to a minimum in your diet, too. In fact, steer your grocery cart to the perimeter of the store, where all the fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, and fish are. Steer away from the center aisles, which are stacked with highly processed foods.
You may want to switch your habits if you’re into take-out or fine dining. Instead of eating at restaurants that use an abundance of sugar, seed oils, and sodium, try your hand at becoming an expert chef yourself. If time is an issue, consider meal boxes that are designed to be kidney-friendly.
3. Sweat it out
Exercise is good for your cardiovascular system. Resistance training builds strong bones and muscles. Your kidneys benefit from exercise, too, especially when you work out to the point of sweating out toxins and waste products.
Whether you sweat from exercise, a sauna, or hot showers, rehydrate before and after. You may need more water and other healthy liquids than you think if you hit the gym or the spa.
4. Consider supplements
You may be undernourished even if you already eat a fresh, whole-food diet emphasizing vegetables, high-quality proteins, and fruits. In fact, women, men, and children in the United States are almost all deficient in one or multiple micronutrients, including minerals.
More than half the US population is deficient in magnesium. About 43% don’t get enough calcium. Your body needs minerals and vitamins to function. Too few minerals, in fact, can lead to an imbalance that causes kidney stones.
If you do have kidney stones, you may be surprised to learn that you need to take more minerals, not fewer. Each case is different, based on your unique metabolism and the type of stones you tend to produce. Dr. Lesani analyzes your kidney stones and diet and may recommend supplements.
5. Ask about protein
Protein is an essential macronutrient your body needs to build muscle and bones. Loss of muscle mass, known as sarcopenia, is one of the hallmarks of a poorly aging body and puts you at risk for falls and other life-threatening conditions.
However, if you have kidney stones, you may need to be careful with your protein intake. For instance, although red meat and organs are nutrient-dense, if you have kidney stones, you may need to get your protein mainly through plants.
Plants have their own dangers when it comes to your kidneys, though. Some leafy greens, such as kale and spinach, are high in a mineral called oxalates, which puts you at risk for kidney stones.
Are you concerned for your kidneys? Contact our team today for kidney evaluation or treatment at 702-470-2579. You can also book your appointment online.