World Kidney Day – 6 ways to better look after your kidneys

11th March 2021

6 ways to better look after your kidneys

On 11th March 2021, we are joining the global campaign for World Kidney Day which aims to raise awareness of the importance of good kidney health and how you can live well with kidney disease.  Around 10% of people in the UK have chronic kidney disease (CKD) and whilst it cannot always be prevented, there are steps you can take to look after these vital organs better.

Staying hydrated for kidney health

1. Drink up, Stay Hydrated

The NHS recommends that women should drink eight 200ml glasses and men should drink ten 200ml glasses of fluid per day.

Drinking plenty of fluids helps the kidneys to clear sodium, urea and waste products from the body, lowering the risk of developing chronic kidney disease.

Everyone is different and the right level of fluid intake depends on a range of factors. These can include the amount and type of exercise we do, weather conditions and health considerations such as being pregnant or breast feeding. In addition, some people with kidney disease, especially those whose kidneys have stopped working and are on treatments such as dialysis, must monitor their fluid intake very carefully.

2. Stop Smoking

Smoking increases your heart rate and blood pressure but slows the flow of blood to the kidneys. When less blood reaches the kidneys, it can decrease their ability to function normally. Smoking also increases the risk of kidney cancer by about 50 per cent and is an independent risk factor for renal failure with smokers four times more likely to develop renal failure compared to non-smokers.

Stopping smoking not only reduces the risk of developing other diseases such as cardiovascular disease but will also improve your general health and reduce your risk of these serious conditions.

Stop Smoking for better kidney health
Healthy diet for kidney health

3. Maintain a well-balanced diet

A healthy, balanced diet can reduce your risk of kidney disease by keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol at a healthy level.  By eating a healthy balance of foods, you can control your blood sugar levels and reduce your risk of heart disease.

According to Kidney Care UK and in collaboration with The Renal Association, a well-balanced diet should include:

  • Plenty of fruit and vegetables – aim for at least 5 portions a day
  • Meals that include starchy foods, such as potatoes, wholegrain bread, rice or pasta
  • Some dairy or dairy alternatives
  • Some beans or pulses, fish, eggs, or meat as a source of protein
  • Low levels of saturated fat, salt and sugar

4. Manage alcohol intake

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can affect many parts of your body, including your kidneys. Consuming a moderate amount of alcohol, described by the National Kidney Foundation as ‘one or two drinks now and then’ will usually have no serious effects.  Drinking too much can cause your blood pressure and cholesterol levels to rise to unhealthy levels and worsen kidney disease.

According to the NHS, sticking to the recommended alcohol limit is the best way to reduce your risk:

  • Men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week
  • Spread your drinking over 3 days or more if you drink as much as 14 units a week*
Low alochol intake for kidney health

*14 units is equivalent to 6 pints on average-strength beer or 10 small glasses of low-strength wine.

Keeping fit for better kidney health

5. Keep fit, Be active

We know that keeping fit delivers a broad range of health benefits, but evidence suggests that for patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) it may prevent cardiovascular complications and disease progression.

Regular aerobic and resistance training stimulates glucose uptake by skeletal muscle, thereby reducing insulin secretion and promoting lipolysis.  In turn, lowering your blood pressure and reducing your risk of developing kidney disease.  At least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week is recommended by the NHS, as well as strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, check, shoulders and arms).

6. Be careful with painkillers

If you take over-the-counter medicines for headaches, pain, fever, or colds, you may be taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). NSAIDs include popular pain relievers and cold medicines, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, which can damage your kidneys if you take them for a longer than recommended.

If you need to take painkillers, make sure you follow the instructions that come with the medicine and consult with your GP or pharmacist if you are unsure of the recommended dose.

Painkillers and kidney health

Test your kidneys with Randox Health

At Randox Health we believe that early detection can help prevent the progression of kidney disease to kidney failure.  With access to these high-performance kidney health tests, if you have any kidney problems we can help diagnosed early, before the condition develops into something more serious.

As part of our Everyman/Everywoman health packages we check the following levels in your body to determine how well your kidneys are functioning:

  • Creatinine
  • Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate (eGFR)
  • Cystain C
  • Calcium
  • Chloride
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphate
  • Potassium

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