Friday, 23 September 2011

Keeping Your Kidneys Healthy

Take Measures Against Kidney Disease

Your kidneys work hard every day to remove waste products from your body. They also help keep your body’s chemicals in balance and help keep the amount of water in your body balanced. However, certain risk factors can put the kidneys in danger. Your kidneys can be damaged by exposure to certain drugs or toxins, for example. These toxins may be in the form of any number of harmful chemicals that include heavy metals, solvents, pharmaceutical drugs and pesticides.
There are also a number of conditions that can affect the kidneys and their ability to function: heart failure, diabetes, “hypertension,” liver disease, lupus and “sickle-cell anemia” are some examples.

Diabetes & Kidney Disease Often Linked

If you have an underlying condition, especially diabetes, there are steps that you can take to help protect your liver from damage. According to researchers, about half of those who have diabetes will develop early signs of kidney damage. Unfortunately, though, early kidney damage doesn’t really have any symptoms.
It’s important if you have diabetes to get regular tests to check your kidney function. It also makes sense to be aware of the risk of kidney damage so that you can do as much as you can to stop it from happening.
Diabetes and high blood pressure are two of the leading causes of kidney disease. If you have diabetes, you can reduce your risk of kidney damage by managing your blood-sugar levels. If you have high blood pressure, you can help protect your kidneys by getting your blood pressure to a healthy level.
There’s a lot that you can do to help manage these conditions—or, in some cases, to prevent them. By doing so, you’ll benefit your overall health, not just your kidney function.

Control Your Blood-sugar Levels

With the help of your doctor, make sure that you have the medication and/or resources that you need to keep your blood-sugar levels stable. Remember that there are some relatively simple things that you can do to help keep your blood-sugar levels normal and help prevent diabetes from becoming a threat to your well-being. Here is a list to help you out.

Low-fat, High-fiber Diet

Add plenty of raw vegetables and fruits, including vegetable juices, to a low-fat, high-fiber diet. This will reduce your body’s need for insulin. It will also lower the level of fats in your blood, helping you maintain a healthy weight. Fiber helps prevent blood-sugar spikes, as it is more slowly digested than simple sugars are.

Get More Vegetable Proteins

Eat lots of legumes, like kidney, lima and navy beans. Some grains are also high in protein. Try “quinoa,” which has the most protein of all the grains and has a pleasing texture and taste. Soy protein is also a good source—it could help keep the levels of good cholesterol high in Type 2 diabetics.

Avoid Saturated Fats

That goes for trans-fats and hydrogenated oils, too. These oils, which are usually found in fast foods, could increase your risk for getting diabetes. Instead, use healthy oils like olive, sesame, flax, pumpkin, walnut and sunflower. Take a walk down the oils aisle in your local health-food store. You’ll be surprised at the number of varieties that are available. Give some of them a try—you might discover a new taste that you like. Just take note that some oils are better at retaining their nutrients when heated. Other oils may be best used only for salad dressings and in baking.

Avoid Smoking

Tobacco can constrict your blood vessels and reduce your circulation. It is very important to keep your circulation healthy and robust, especially if you are already diabetic.

Don’t Drink Sugary Beverages

One study that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at the effects of soft drinks and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The researchers found that women who drank more than one sugar-sweetened drink a day increased their risk of getting diabetes twofold.6

Keep Dietary Ratios Balanced

What is an ideal ratio for carbohydrates, proteins and fats? Medical experts suggest that a diet consisting of 45% carbs, 40% healthy fats and 15% protein can benefit people with insulin resistance. Others maintain that a ratio of 50% carbs, 30% fats and 20% protein is a good balance. The important thing to remember is that carbs should make up the bulk of your diet.

Monitor Your Kidney Function

Make sure that you get regular urine and blood tests to monitor your kidney function. That way, you can keep track of any small problems before they become unmanageable. Knowing that you have signs of early kidney damage, for example, can motivate you to try some lifestyle changes that will protect your kidneys from further wear and tear.

Check Your Blood Pressure

When you check your blood pressure regularly, you are kept abreast of the health of your heart. Heart conditions and heart disease can impair the function of your kidneys. By getting your blood pressure checked regularly by your doctor, you’ll know if you are within a healthy range.
The complications of high blood pressure can be quite serious. You know that high blood pressure can lead to a stroke or heart attack, but did you know that it could also cause kidney damage? If you find that your blood pressure is higher than it should be, speak to your doctor.

Exercise Regularly

Exercise is one of the best ways to prevent Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and many other conditions. Being overweight can be a major factor in Type 2 diabetes.
In one trial, called “The Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study,” researchers proved that exercise can protect against Type 2 diabetes. The study included 522 overweight individuals with impaired glucose tolerance who were divided into two groups. One group was a control group, and the other was an intensive-lifestyle-intervention group, which included increased physical activity of approximately four hours a week.
The subjects in the intervention group were more likely to report changes in dietary and exercise habits than subjects in the control group were. Success in achieving exercise goals in the intervention group was 86%. The incidence of diabetes after four years in the intervention group was 11%, while it was 23% in the control group. The risk of diabetes was reduced by 58% in the intervention group—an outcome that was directly associated with exercise.

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