We may have two kidneys and although we can still survive with only one, it is no reason for us to take them for granted. The kidney is a vital organ and without it, our body cannot remove waste and toxins as well as excess fluids. Apart from waste and fluid excretion, the kidneys release certain hormones that helps regulate blood pressure. The kidneys also influence red blood cell production and calcium metabolism.
Unfortunately, most of us lead unhealthy lifestyles which often subject our kidneys to stress. For instance, lifestyle diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes can cause kidney damage in the long run. To ensure that your kidneys remain normal, here are seven tips you should follow:
1. Hydrate with water specially if exercising or going to saunas.
This is the most important advice of all, especially if you are into heavy exercise, yoga, pilates and hot sauna baths. Profuse sweating can lead to a decrease in urine output. If you do not drink enough fluids, minerals can settle in the kidneys and would not be flushed out. Once minerals bond with the kidneys, stones can form. To prevent kidney stones from forming, make sure to drink at least two liters of fluids everyday.
2. Take calcium supplements.
Many people believe that calcium can cause the formation of stones in the kidneys. However, calcium-oxalate stones can be prevented by balancing your intake of oxalate and calcium. Take calcium supplements so oxalate can bind with it in the digestive tract and not in the kidneys. Instead of avoiding calcium rich foods, cut back on sat instead.
3. Eat oxalate rich foods.
As mentioned previously, it is important that there is a balance between calcium and oxalate and that they bind in the digestive tract and not in the kidneys. If you love eating dairy products and other calcium rich foods, balance it by eating oxalate rich foods such as nuts, beets, rhubarb, spinach, beans, wheat bran, chocolate, strawberries and tea.
4. Citrus may be the answer.
Potassium citrate can cure kidney stones. Fresh sources include lemonade, citrus juices and limeaides. Make sure to drink fresh fruit juices or sugar-free instant juices.
5. Minimize salt.
Increased intake of salt can lead to increase in calcium in urine. This can upset the balance of calcium and oxalate. Limit your intake of salt to 2,300 mg per day. If with previous history of kidney stones, limit it to 1,500 mg per day.
6. Avoid smoking.
Smoking causes an indirect effect on kidney stones. It can contribute to diabetes and hypertension. Once these diseases set in, it increases you risk for kidney stone formation.
7. Go easy on medicines.
All medicines including alcohol pass through the kidneys. Some have certain effects on the kidneys too. For instance, paracetamol reduces blood flow to the kidneys. Pain killers such as aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen can cause long term damage. Anti-biotics, laxatives and contrast dyes should also be taken with precaution when you have existing kidney condition.
Kidney stones can be extremely painful. It can occur repeatedly. Therefore, one must take extreme care to avoid them from forming.
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