The kidneys are vital organs which are needed to maintain healthy living. Currently, about 1 new case of kidney failure is seen daily in any outpatient clinic in Nigeria with some clinics seeing more than 3 new cases every day. Living with chronic kidney diseases creates a big financial burden on patients because of the need a minimum of 3 sessions of hemodialysis daily, drugs administered during each session, lifestyle modification, change in diet and the cost and burden of having a kidney transplant. Many patients have died of kidney disease and have been burdens to care givers and the society but this can be avoided by living a healthy life and by avoiding certain lifestyles that damages the kidneys.
In this article, we are going to look at 12 Ways to Maintain a Healthy Kidney.
1. Blood pressure control: Uncontrolled hypertension is said to be among the leading cause of kidney failure. Hypertension is an elevation in blood pressure with values greater than 140 mmHg and 90 mmHg for systolic and diastolic pressures respectively. Increase in blood targets and destroys the kidneys over time leading to an irreversible kidney damage that will warrant dialysis of kidney transplant. In Africa, hypertension is so common and it is said that 1 in every 3 Nigerians is battling with hypertension which is a silent killer because it usually shows no clinical signs or symptoms. Control of blood pressure greatly reduces the risk of developing kidney disease and it is an important one can maintain a healthy kidney.
2. Avoid Alcohol: Excessive consumption of alcohol is an important toxin that damages the cells in the kidneys. When this happens, the cells can no longer function properly leading to kidney disease. Cutting on the alcohol reduces the stress on the kidneys.
3. Avoid cigarettes: Cigarettes contains tar and over 200 toxins that are harmful to man. These toxins are harmful oxidants that increase metabolic stress on the kidneys and other vital organs. Oxidants targets and destroy tiny blood vessels found in the kidney and also increases oxidative stress on cells leading to cell death. When cells in the kidneys die, the kidney can no longer perform its role leading to kidney failure and death.
4. Drink plenty of water: The benefits of drinking adequate water daily cannot be emphasized. About 70% of an adult weight is made up of water and water is needed by all cells and organs in the body. Drinking enough water daily improves kidney functions leading to healthy kidneys.
5. Eat fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants which targets and neutralizes toxins and reactive free radicals that damage the cells of the kidneys. Fruits contain vitamins and minerals that are essential for fighting against diseases and infections. Taking fruits and vegetables daily is another way of maintaining healthy living.
6. Avoid Over the Counter drugs: Statistically, it has been shown that nearly every adult in Nigeria has taken drugs not prescribed by the doctor of pharmacist. Several drugs available in the market are nephrotoxic meaning that they can damage the kidneys if not taken with caution. Taking OTCs can be very harmful and in major hospitals in Nigeria, it has been identified as a major cause of kidney damage. These drugs when taken for a prolong period of time can damage the unique and labile cells of the kidneys leading to kidney failure. Endeavor to take drugs only prescribed by your physician to prevent renal damage.
7. Reduce salt intake: Salt is part of a normal diet, just adequate salt is healthy for the body but taking salt in excess can damage the kidneys. It has been noted that African kidneys can’t handle salt as the Caucasians and this has become a major public health concern because increase salt intake has been attributed to hypertension in Africans. Increase salt intake leads to accumulation of water in the water which in turn leads to increase in blood volume. The heart then works harder trying to pump this excess fluid in the body and this ultimately leads to hypertension which damages and destroys the kidneys. Reducing salt intake reduces the risk of hypertension and this helps to maintain healthy kidneys.
8. Adequate sugar control: Diabetes is a major disease that destroys kidneys. Increase in blood sugar for several reasons targets the cells of the kidneys leading to kidney failure. Diabetes is second to hypertension as the leading cause of kidney failure in Nigeria. For patients diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, it is important that you control your blood sugar properly to prevent kidney injury and damage.
9. Treat UTI promptly and properly: Urinary tract infection can affect any part of the urinary tract and the kidneys are not spared. Infection can ascend from the urethra into the bladder and then to the kidneys. Infections of the kidneys can lead to kidney damage and failure. It is advisable that all cases of urinary tract infection should be treated adequately and promptly by a physician to prevent the affectation of the kidneys. Antibiotics are highly effective in treating urinary tract infection.
10. Regular exercise: Having regular exercise increases blood flow to vital organs in the body, helps in weight reduction/ maintain adequate weight, increases the secretion of dopamine in the body, rejuvenate and relaxes the body. All this factors increases blood flow to the kidneys and also helps in maintaining healthy kidneys.
11. Personal protection at work (occupational hazard): People working in industries, factories, road construction workers have a higher risk of developing kidney disease. This is as a result of constant exposure to chemicals and metals like asbestos, silicon, hydrocarbons, tar, silver, and gold particles and other toxic metals and elements found as part of occupational hazard. It is essential that all workers exposed to theses toxins are protected to prevent kidney damage that may result from exposure to such metals and elements.
12. Avoid obesity and watch your cholesterol: Obesity is another risk factor for kidney damage. Increase blood cholesterol accumulates within the lumen of blood vessels that carry blood into the kidneys and this reduces blood supply to the kidneys. When this happens, kidney cells begin to die and subsequently kidney damage occurs. Maintaining a healthy kidney implies that you must control your weight by regular exercise, adequate and healthy diet and watching your blood cholesterol.
Kidney failure is a debilitating medical condition that puts strain on the patients and care givers. The best remedy is to prevent kidney failure from taking place