More than 30 million Americans suffer from chronic kidney disease (CKD) but many people do not know they have it because it is often silent in the early stages. Kidney disease, however, is a serious health issue and is linked to other major health issues such as heart and carotid artery disease. Carotid artery disease, when in advanced stages, can increase an individual's risk of stroke.
So how do you take care of your kidneys? The same way you take care of your overall health - diet and lifestyle choices. Healthy behaviors such as exercise, drinking plenty of water, and a balanced diet with the recommended amount of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals are good for your body, inside and out. For individuals with chronic kidney disease, there are plenty of foods out there that can help. If you don't have chronic kidney disease, it is still important to protect your kidneys from disease. Check out these top drinks and foods to help you take care of your kidneys!
TOP DRINKS AND FOODS FOR YOUR KIDNEYS
For obvious reasons, water is the best tool for balancing water balance in your body. No need to go overboard, but you should always aim for 6-8 glasses a day depending on your body weight. If you are more active, you will need additional water. Water helps flush out toxins that can lead to bacterial infection or kidney stones, along with harmful particles in the blood.
- Cranberry Juice
Be careful with this choice, some juices contain little fruit content and are loaded with sugar, so be sure to pick 100% cranberry juice (organic and water based) is a great option for cleaning out your kidneys.
Eating cranberries can also protect your kidneys. Cranberries prevent the development and growth of ulcers and bacteria in your urinary tract, and can help manage current bacteria/ulcers because they make urine more acidic and help keep bacteria from attaching to the inside of the bladder. At the grocery store, add fresh cranberries to your cart over dried.
An apple a day really does help keep the doctor away! High in fiber and anti-inflammatory properties, apples help reduce cholesterol, prevent constipation, protect against heart disease and decrease your risk of cancer. These can be cooked or raw. It's up to you!
If you have chronic kidney disease, you probably know that vitamin D is extremely important since it helps regulate kidney function, and mushrooms are an excellent source.
- Egg Whites
Egg whites provide a high quality protein, but avoid the yolks because they contain phosphorous, which can be dangerous for people with kidney disease. Skinless chicken is also a good quality protein for renal diets.
Kale is a good source of Vitamins A and C to prevent inflammation and protect the immune system. It's also lower in potassium than other greens and contains a large amount of iron.
This vegetable brings lots of vitamin C to your plate, along with folate and fiber. In addition, it contains compounds that help your liver neutralize toxic substances. Feel free to eat this veggie raw, add it to your salad, or substitute it for mashed potatoes.
Keep in mind that there are plenty of other healthy options that will do your kidneys, and your body, plenty of good. If you do have chronic kidney disease there are a few nutrients you should watch carefully. Your kidneys regulate potassium, which is why it's so important to monitor how much you are eating on a regular basis. Your kidneys also have a role in red blood cell production, meaning that if they aren't functioning correctly your count may be low. Eating iron-rich foods can help prevent this and help keep up your energy level.
On the opposite side of the equation, salt can be your enemy. Too much salt can raise your blood pressure and make your heart and kidneys work too hard. Be careful about how much salt you use in cooking and also watch the salt content of pre-packaged foods like canned soups, frozen dinners, and boxed meals. Salt substitutes may also contain a lot of potassium, so try herbs to add flavor and give it some time. You can get used to eating less salt, but it does take six to eight weeks for your taste buds to get used to it.
Lastly, phosphorous can be dangerous for people with kidney disease so choose foods lower in phosphorous like fresh fruits and veggies, rice milk, corn and rice cereals, and lemonade or ginger ale.
IMPORTANCE OF KIDNEY DISEASE SCREENINGS
Kidney disease screening from Life Line Screening uses a simple finger-stick test to assess how well your kidneys are functioning. It uses an FDA-approved device adopted by more than 250 hospitals across the country.
Common risk factors for kidney disease include increased age, family history, race and ethnicity (African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, American Indians and Pacific Islanders are at increased risk), diabetes, high blood pressure, hereditary factors and abnormally elevated creatinine levels or decreasing glomerular filtration rates (GFR).