Five tips to protect your kidneys - The signs that indicate a problem


Simple daily habits can keep your precious kidneys healthy.

Professor of Kidney Health from London South Bank University Nicola Thomas detailed the five rules for good kidney health in an article in The Conversation.

"Healthy kidneys are vital to your wellbeing," the professor explains, "as well as getting rid of waste from your body in your pee, they also have a role in controlling blood pressure, keeping your blood count high and keeping your bones healthy. To keep your kidneys healthy there are several things you can do to help yourself."

1. Adequate hydration

"Don’t let your kidneys dry out; make sure you drink a decent amount of fluid every day. Drinking water is the best way to keep your kidneys hydrated, but any fluid such as tea or fruit-flavoured drinks are fine. You should try and aim for at least eight cups or glasses of fluid every day."

2. Beware of salt

"Next, think about what you eat. Adding salt to your food increases your blood pressure, and if you have high blood pressure over a long period, this can lead to kidney problems. Aim for less than one teaspoon of salt each day. It is easy to see how much salt you eat when you add it directly to your meal or when you add it to cooking, but a lot of salt is hidden in foods."

She highlights that burgers, sausages, bacon, cheese, smoked fish and chips, ready meals, sauces and prepackaged sauces, as well as stock and seasoning cubes are high in salt.

3. No smoking

Thomas warns that "smoking is bad for your kidneys, as it closes up the blood vessels in the kidneys and also increases blood pressure."

4. Exercise!

"Taking exercise does not necessarily need to be at a gym, but rather make sure that your heart pumps hard every day by walking quickly or climbing up stairs. You can also help your kidneys by keeping to a healthy weight."

5. Maintaining a normal weight

The professor suggests a well-known trick for determining whether your weight has gone out of safe limits.

"Aim to keep your waist measurement to less than half your height. This is important as it will tell you how much fat you have around your middle in relation to elsewhere in your body. Just use a piece of string. Measure your height with the string and then cut it in half. If the string then does not reach around your waist, you are carrying too much fat."

Signs of trouble

Disturbances in kidney health will not be immediately noticeable, with symptoms usually appearing when the damage has progressed.

"Kidney damage comes in five stages, with stage five being the worst. It is not until stage four that people might notice they are feeling more tired than usual," explains the professor.

Possible symptoms are headache and blurred vision, but they may be due to high blood pressure. In later stages of kidney damage, nausea or loss of appetite is common.

Precisely because it is not easy to identify the risk, she recommends that people with diabetes, hypertension, heart problems or family history have a blood and urology test that will indicate whether there is a need for a regular checkup or the start of medication.

READ MORE: What causes liver cirrhosis? A Greek doctor explains the symptoms and complications.

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