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WHAT can filter half a cup of blood every minute, control your blood pressure, make red blood cells, and keep your bones healthy and strong? The incredible kidney of course. It’s Kidney Awareness Week, and we are celebrating with some tips and tricks to keep your kidney happy, healthy, and productive. Also, if you thought that the primary function of the kidneys — filtering out waste and toxins from the body — is the only function, you would be ignoring quite a bit of the kidney’s important work in your body. These bean-shaped, fist-sized organs are more than just filters. Let’s take a look at how the kidneys help us, and how we can help them in return.
How do they filter blood?
The kidneys’ claim to fame is its ability to filter our blood. It can process 190 litres in just 24 hours, with about two litres of that being expelled as urine. It does this with only three tubes, one to let blood in, one to let blood out, and one to send urine to the bladder. The kidneys filter the blood with up to one million tiny filters called nephrons. Each of these nephrons are able to first take in blood and filter it, and then adjust chemical and water content as the body needs. The final product of this process is urine.
What else do they do?
While the work of filtering our blood is important, it would be criminal to assume that is the kidneys only function. They also keep our bones healthy by producing calcium, and they balance the body’s fluids. They are also able to control the production of red blood cells, and release hormones that regulate blood pressure. Thanks, kidneys!
Are our kidneys in danger?
Yes! Nearly 10% of the global population have what’s called chronic kidney disease (CKD), and millions die from it each year. Chronic kidney disease is when you have a condition that damages your kidneys and prevents them from doing their job. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two main causes of CKD.
How can we keep them healthy?
Since our kidneys do so much for us, we should try to repay our kidneys by keeping them healthy. There are eight simple ways to do it:
Walking, running, swimming, or cycling. It’s up to you how you want to do it, any way you get exercise helps out your kidneys.
Controlling blood sugar
Approximately 50% of people with diabetes face kidney damage. Kidney damage can be prevented if the diabetes is detected early, so getting regular check-ups is important.
Monitor blood pressure
When we think of blood pressure we usually think of the heart, but it’s important to know that high blood pressure is the most common cause of kidney damage. If your blood pressure is higher than 120/80 then you should consider lifestyle and dietary changes or see a doctor.
There are plenty of reasons to eat healthy, and it should be no surprise that eating healthy also benefits your kidneys. One specific diet tip to help your kidneys is to reduce sodium intake, just a pinch less salt when cooking or eating less processed foods can have a big benefit.
You aren’t drinking enough water. In fact, most people aren’t. Many studies suggest drinking two litres of water a day is a requirement for maintaining good health. That’s around eight glasses of water a day. Drinking plenty of water helps the kidneys clear sodium, urea and toxins from the body, and lowers the risk of kidney disease.
Smoking reduces the flow of blood to the kidneys whose purpose, which we hope you’ll remember, is to filter and modify blood. Naturally this impairs their ability to work properly. In addition, smoking increases the chances of kidney cancer by fifty percent.
Don’t take too many pills
Regular use of over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen can cause kidney damage and disease. Every once in a while is fine, but if you are dealing with chronic pain you should talk to your doctor to find a solution that will spare your kidneys.
These tips will help keep your kidneys happy and healthy and will help avoid kidney disease. Celebrate national Kidney Awareness Week with a glass of water, on us. Meanwhile, we also suggest that you prioritise your overall well-being by taking every step possible to keep it at 100% shape. Learn more about AIA សម្រាប់ជីវិត (Samrab Chivit) by contacting 086 999 242. Its life insurance solution covers 26 conditions of critical illnesses and medical operations in Cambodia and overseas.
Sources: Healthline, National Kidney Foundation, World Kidney Day, World Health Organisation, Medline Plus, Mayo Clinic, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
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