This week Australians are encouraged to care about their kidney health as part of Kidney Health Week, a national, community event organised through Kidney Health Australia.
As the peak body in kidney and urinary health, Kidney Health Australia aims to advance the public health agenda through awareness, detection, prevention and management of kidney disease. This year, their theme for Kidney Health week is ‘I Kidney Check’ which focuses on encouraging Australians to care about their own kidney health.
So what exactly do these amazing organs do and how can you give them the care they deserve? We went straight to the experts at Kidney Health Australia for the answers:
What do your kidneys do?
Kidneys are the unsung heroes of our bodies and perform a number of very important jobs:
- Blood pressure control – kidneys keep your blood pressure regular
- Water balance – kidneys add excess water to other wastes, which makes your urine.
- Cleaning blood – kidneys filter your blood to remove wastes and toxins.
- Vitamin D activation – kidneys manage your body’s production of this essential vitamin, which is vital for strong bones, muscles and overall health.
All this makes the kidneys a very important player in the way your body works and your overall health.
How to look after them?
Your kidneys play an important role in the daily workings of your body and help maintain your general health and wellbeing, so it makes good sense to take good care of them.
Some key recommendations are:
- Get your blood pressure checked regularly and make sure it stays below the levels recommended by your doctor
- If you have diabetes make sure you monitor your blood glucose levels and stay within your targets
- Lead an active, healthy lifestyle and maintain a healthy weight
- Stop Smoking: People who smoke are three times more likely to have reduced kidney function. If you’re a smoker, take the first step. Call the Quitline on 13 78 48 or visit www.quitnow.gov.au
- Eat Wisely: Include lots of fruit, vegetables, legumes and wholegrain bread and rice; eat lean meat such as chicken and fish; choose foods that have a low percentage of sugar and salt and saturated fats. Chat to our Dietician if you think you would benefit from nutrition advice to help you achieve your goals
- Exercise Regularly: Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. Why not shake it up by trying a group fitness class you haven’t done before – 30mins will fly by!
- Drink Water: Water has a huge list of health benefits and contains no kilojoules, is inexpensive and readily available
- Limit Alcohol intake: To care for your kidneys it is recommended that alcohol intake is limited to less than two standard drinks per day
- Enjoy Life: Good health and wellbeing means being in good shape in all parts of your life – physically, mentally, socially and spiritually
Look out for Symptoms
Chronic kidney disease is called a ‘silent disease’ as there are often no warning signs. It is not uncommon for people to lose up to 90% of their kidney function before getting any symptoms. There are, however, some signs that may indicate reduced kidney function and it’s important to take note of them – you can find a list of these here. If you are experiencing a number of these symptoms, or think you are at increased risk of kidney disease, ask your doctor for a Kidney Health Check.*
*Results may vary. Exercise and proper diet are necessary to achieve and maintain weight loss and/or muscle gain over an extended period of time.