The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, each about the size of a fist. They are located just below the rib cage, one on each side of your spine. Healthy kidneys filter about a half cup of blood every minute, removing wastes and extra water to make urine.
In addition, your kidneys regulate pH, salt, and potassium levels in your body. They also produce hormones that regulate blood pressure and control the production of red blood cells.
Kidneys are vital to your overall health, so it's important to look after them. Here’s how.
What do kidneys do?
Your kidneys have many jobs, but their main job is to filter (clean) your blood, getting rid of toxins (wastes) and excess salt and water as urine. If your kidneys are damaged and don’t work as they should, wastes can build up in your blood and can make you sick. Your kidneys also balance the amount of salts and minerals in your body, make hormones that control blood pressure, make red blood cells and keep your bones strong.
What causes kidney disease?
Kidney diseases happen when your kidneys are damaged and can’t filter your blood. The damage can happen quickly – when it’s caused by injury or toxins – or, more commonly, over months or years.
High blood pressure (hypertension) and diabetes are the two most common causes of chronic kidney disease.
How to keep my kidneys healthy?
Regular exercise is good for more than just your waistline. It can lower the risk of chronic kidney disease. It can also reduce your blood pressure and boost your heart health, which are both important to preventing kidney damage.
Control Weight & Follow a Balanced Diet
A healthy diet that’s low in sodium, processed meats, and other kidney-damaging foods may help reduce the risk of kidney damage. Focus on eating fresh ingredients that are naturally low-sodium, such as cauliflower, blueberries, fish, whole grains, and more.
Smoking damages your body’s blood vessels. This leads to slower blood flow throughout your body and to your kidneys.
Smoking also puts your kidneys at an increased risk for cancer. If you stop smoking, your risk will drop. However, it’ll take many years to return to the risk level of a person who’s never smoked.
Drink Alcohol in Moderation
Both men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week on a regular basis. Drinking too much alcohol raises your blood pressure. High blood pressure is one of the most common causes of kidney disease.
Water helps clear sodium and toxins from your kidneys. It also lowers your risk of chronic kidney disease.
Aim for at least 1.5 to 2 liters in a day. Exactly how much water you need depends largely on your health and lifestyle. Factors like climate, exercise, gender, overall health, and whether or not you’re pregnant or breastfeeding are important to consider when planning your daily water intake.
Get an Annual Physical
Early detection and appropriate treatment are important in slowing the disease process, with the goal of preventing or delaying kidney failure.
Make sure to check our Healthy Kidneys section on our website for some healthy foods and snacks!
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Mint Basil Market team.