March is National Kidney Month
Kidneys perform several vital functions for our bodies:
- Remove waste products from blood through production of urine
- Produce hormones to regulate blood pressure
- Help make red blood cells
- Help regulate water and mineral levels in our bodies
Depending on the amount you drink each day, your kidneys can produce 1 to 2 litres of urine.
It is estimated that 1 in 10 Canadians have kidney disease. Health providers recommend that older adults have an annual screening for kidney disease, especially those with other health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.
To keep your kidneys functioning optimally, make sure that your blood pressure and blood sugar are under control, maintain a healthy weight by eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly, and if you smoke you should really try to QUIT. Both overweight and underweight adults are at higher risk for kidney disease. Nutritionally, aim for 2 to 3 servings of protein each day, and keep your sodium levels under 2000 mg per day. (To get an idea of how much this is, 1 teaspoon is approximately 2300 mg of sodium). Avoid processed foods and read nutrition labels. Use vegetables, fruit and vinegar to add flavor and variety to your diet.
As you age, your organ function will change and may necessitate a change in the way you eat. A kidney friendly diet will:
- Meet your nutritional needs
- Reduce your kidneys’ workload
- Help maintain the kidney function you have
- Control the build-up of food wastes like urea
- Reduce symptoms like fatigue, nausea, itching, and bad taste in the mouth
For more information, resources and to support the Kidney Foundation, find the local chapter of the Kidney Foundation on their website.