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
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 at https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/dash-eating-plan.
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.
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