4 tips to care for our kidneys | TribLIVE.com
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4 tips to care for our kidneys

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Water delivers valuable nutrients to our kidneys and helps them remove wastes from the blood.

Call them the great filters. Every day, 120 to 150 quarts of blood are strained through our two fist-sized kidneys. During this process, these little organs produce 1 to 2 quarts of urine to rid the body of waste and excess fluid.

And our kidneys do a lot more than that. They produce enzymes that help normalize blood pressure. They make a hormone that tells the body to make red blood cells — the blood’s oxygen carriers. And they activate a form of vitamin D that works with calcium to maintain the strength of our bones.

All the more reason to keep these valuable organs in good working order.

Here are some good strategies:

• If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugars under control. According to the National Kidney Foundation kidney.org), excess sugar (glucose) in the blood puts extra pressure on the kidney’s filtering mechanism. When the kidneys are injured, then can’t clean blood properly, causing a build-up of water and toxic waste.

• Maintain a normal blood pressure. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the kidney’s filtering units can be damaged when the force of blood surging through the kidneys is high. One well-studied diet strategy to lower blood pressure is the DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (Hypertension is a fancy word for high blood pressure).

The DASH eating plan has been confirmed to lower blood pressure … and not just by cutting back on salt. It features vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low fat dairy foods, fish, poultry, beans, nuts and vegetable oils. DASH is rich in potassium, magnesium and calcium — nutrients known to help lower blood pressure — and low in high fat meats and sweets. Check it out: nhlbi.nih.gov

• Stay hydrated. Water delivers valuable nutrients to our kidneys and helps them remove wastes from our blood. Adequate fluids can also help prevent kidney stones and urinary tract infections.

How do you know if your kidneys are working as they should? Protein in the urine is one of the first signs of kidney disease. Well-functioning kidneys don’t allow this valuable nutrient to escape. A simple test called the Albumin Creatinine Ratio uses a small amount of urine to tell your doctor if your kidneys are preserving a protein called albumin or allowing it to pass into the urine.

• Another useful test called the GFR (Glomerular Filtration Rate) estimates how well your kidneys are working to clean wastes from your blood. It requires a sample of blood and a calculation based on your race, age and gender. A GFR of 90 or better indicates your kidneys are in good working order. Less than 60 is a sign of kidney disease.

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