How to keep your kidneys healthy

Kidneys are essential in the urinary system and serve the body as a natural filter of the blood. They remove wastes and excess fluid thus cleansing your blood in your body. Kidneys maintain the balance of salt and minerals in your blood and help regulate blood pressure.

Taking care of your kidneys will help you to take care of the rest of your body. Kidneys are two small organs located at the rear of the abdominal cavity in the retroperitoneum performing several life-sustaining roles.

Therefore, caring for your kidneys is very important because when it becomes damaged, the waste products and fluid get assembled in the body and can cause several illnesses leading to fatal conditions later in life.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD), also known as chronic renal disease is dangerous and is characterised by a steady loss in renal function over time.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is classified into five stages with stage 1 being the mildest and usually causing few symptoms and stage 5 being a severe illness with poor life expectancy if untreated. The last stage is also called end stage renal disease (ESRD) or end stage renal failure (ESRF) where a patient needs dialysis or transplants to stay alive.

The most common causes of CKD are diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and a family history of kidney failure. Other risks include: obesity, autoimmune diseases, urinary tract infections and systemic infections.

The National Kidney Foundation of India, an NGO, ranked kidney diseases as third amongst life-threatening diseases (after Cancer and Cardiac ailments) in the country. It also estimates that 100 people in a million succumb to kidney ailments and around 90,000 kidney transplants are required annually in India.

Below are some tips to help you keep your kidneys healthy:

- Follow a healthy diet by choosing foods that are healthy for your heart such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy foods, etc.
- Do not smoke.
- Limit your alcohol intake.
- Exercise regularly.
- Maintain a healthy weight to avoid overweight.
- Reduce salt in your diet.
- Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control.
- Do not overuse over-the-counter painkillers or NSAIDs.
- Drink plenty of fluids/water
- Seek medical help or talk to your doctor if you think you are at risk of for CKD.

Compiled by: Salome Phelamei

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