You may be aware that the kidneys filter the blood, expelling many waste products in the form of urine. But did you know that these crucial organs also neutralize acids, absorb minerals and produce hormones?
Along with the liver, the kidneys bear the brunt of the impact from exposure to toxic substances, which means that they may slowly fail from chronic poisoning. Because these organs are so important, they are able to keep functioning even at only 20 percent capacity – which unfortunately means that kidney disease can go undetected for years.
This makes it all the more important to make sure you are doing all you can to protect your kidneys.
Protect your kidneys from damage.
The best way to take care of your kidneys is, of course, to keep from mistreating them. Obviously, that means avoiding the abuse of drugs, including prescription drugs. Painkillers in particular – including over-the-counter drugs – are a major cause of kidney damage and failure. Another major cause of kidney failure is chronic sleep deprivation, which prevents all the body’s organs from getting the downtime they need to repair themselves.
Be sure to drink plenty of water, which is critical for the kidneys to fully flush out the toxic substances that they accumulate while filtering the blood. For a similar reason, make sure to empty your bladder as frequently as possible, rather than holding your urine in. Regular urine retention can eventually lead to kidney stones, incontinence and even kidney failure.
Avoid eating too much salt or sugar. Excessive salt changes the fluid balance in your body, stressing the kidneys, while studies have shown that the consumption of two or more sugar-sweetened drinks per day increases the risk of kidney dysfunction. Caffeine, by raising blood pressure, also stresses the kidneys, and should therefore be consumed only in moderation. And while a regular glass of red wine is good for you, excessive alcohol consumption is a major source of stress and damage to both kidneys and liver.
One of the major categories of toxins that the kidneys process are the wastes produced as a byproduct of protein metabolism. That’s why diets that are especially high in protein – particularly diets low in other caloric sources, requiring the body to break apart more protein for energy – are a major source of stress on the kidneys, and can lead to kidney failure.
Finally, dietary deficiencies in general can stress the kidneys along with all other bodily organs. In particular, deficiency in magnesium or vitamin B6 can increase the risk of kidney stones and kidney failure.