March is National Kidney Month, so what better way to celebrate then getting to know all about them! Here is everything you need to know about your kidneys and kidney health.
What do our kidneys do?
Our kidneys are very important in everyday health functions of our bodies. You cannot live without your kidneys, although some people do live healthy lives with only one kidney. The kidneys are two bean shaped organs that are only as big as a human fist. Our kidneys act as two filters for our blood, removing waste and toxins from our bodies. They filter roughly a half cup of blood per minute, removing toxins and extra fluid in your body. This waste and extra fluid is removed through urine production. The kidneys are connected to the bladder by two small tubes called ureters. The urine travels from the kidneys, through the ureters and to the bladder, producing urine. The importance of staying hydrated to help remove the waste through our urine is essential for kidney health.
Our kidneys are very important in everyday health functions of our bodies. You cannot
Removes acid from blood. (Caused by cells in our body)
What happens if kidneys do not work properly? If this is the case, the waste and toxins are not filtered to the bladder and are filtered back into our blood stream. This can cause serious issues with health and lead to kidney disease.
What is kidney disease?
More than one in seven American adults suffer from Chronic Kidney Disease. Having chronic kidney disease means your kidneys have been damaged and do not filter your blood correctly. Kidney disease is gradual, and loss of function happens over time. Eventually waste can build up in your body making you feel very sick. Kidney disease can lead to kidney failure, needing dialysis or a kidney transplant to survive. Kidney disease can cause serious health problemsthat include:
Heart disease and stroke
High blood pressure
Loss of appetiteDepression
Kidney diseases are the ninth leading cause of death in the United States. Knowing the risk factors can promote healthy lifestyle changes to lower these risks. Those who are most at risk for kidney disease include:
Those who have diabetes. (Most common cause of kidney disease)
Those who have high blood pressure. (Second leading cause of kidney disease)
Have a family history of chronic kidney disease.
Old age. (Those over the age of 60 are more likely to develop kidney disease)
Knowing the signs of potential kidney disease can increase treatments sooner. Having kidney disease is hard to diagnose because most people might not even feel sick until the disease is progressed. Symptoms appear as signs that one or both of your kidneys are starting to fail. Symptoms include:
Dry, itchy skin.
Swollen feet and ankles.
Feeling fatigued and lowered energy.
Loss of appetite.
Nausea and vomiting.
Muscle cramping (especially during nighttime.)
Puffy eyes (More common in the morning)
Excessive urination or not urinating enough
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you suspect kidney disease, a series of tests performed to diagnose. Doctors will ask for a background of your medical history first. This includes, family history of kidney disease, if you suffer from any diseases currently, and a physical exam. Kidney disease diagnosis tests include:
Blood and urine tests. (Most common in detecting abnormalities)
Collecting a kidney biopsy to determine any decreased kidney function.
On the other hand, treatment can become more difficult. Certain kidney diseases can be managed and treated but chronic kidney disease has no effective treatment or cure. Management of symptoms for chronic kidney disease include:
Medications for high blood pressure.
Supplements to control anemia.
Diuretics to reduce swelling.
Calcium and Vitamin D supplements to support bones.
Medications to lower cholesterol.
Low protein diets.
Prevention tips to keep your kidneys healthy
Preventing chronic kidney disease starts can be as simple as choosing healthy lifestyle choices. In the early stages of kidney disease symptoms are low, so routine doctors’ visits are important to keep an eye on your health. Some prevention tips to keep your kidneys healthy include:
Having a healthy diet. (Eat fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. Limit salty and fatty foods.)
Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
Manage diabetes and blood pressure. (Take medications if prescribed.)
Quit smoking and limit alcohol consumption.
Preventing kidney disease does not have to be hard. Simply swapping one bad habit for one good habit can reduce your risk dramatically.
Other kidney problems to look out for
Along with the risk factors of chronic kidney disease, there are other kidney conditions that can pave the way to chronic kidney disease development. Spotting and treating these conditions early can reduce the risk of kidney disease. Some kidney conditions that are left untreated become very high risk for kidney problems. Some kidney conditions to be aware of include:
Kidney stones. (Most common and treatable kidney problem.)
Kidney infections. (Untreated urinary tract infections can lead to kidney infections. Women are most at risk.)
Acute kidney injury. (Life-threatening if not treated as soon as possible.)
“Chronic kidney disease is a global killer hidden in plain sight. The evidence is clear: Many nations’ health systems cannot keep pace with the dialysis demand. Cases far exceed and are well beyond the ability of those systems to handle. The consequences, literally, are deadly.”Dr. Theo Vos, professor of Health Metrics Sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
Heart disease is the leading cause of disability and death in the United States. Heart disease is a term that groups together various heart conditions and symptoms. Sometimes, heart disease can be undetected. Most people will notice heart disease with the signs of a heart attack or heart failure.
In honor of February being American Heart Month, spreading awareness about the preventions of heart disease can lower rates of heart related issues around the world. Learning what you can do to keep your heart healthy is the first step to a healthy heart.
Tip #1: Establish healthy eating habits and choose heart healthy foods and drinks.
Developing healthier eating habits can be as easy as simply eliminating certain foods from your diet. Reading nutritional facts and doing research of what foods contain certain basic nutrients, is an important step in developing a healthy diet.
Protein rich foods. (fish, lean meats, eggs, and nuts)
Whole grains. (brown rice and whole wheat or whole grain breads)
Fat-free and low-fat dairy products.
Seeds. (sunflower, sesame, and flax)
Tip #2: Engage in a moderate level of physical activity and maintain a healthy weight.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition recommends adults to get a total of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Incorporating physical activity into your daily routine might not be as hard as it seems! Participating in physical activity can also increase your ability to maintain a healthy weight and reduce your chances of obesity.
Discuss with your doctor about your weight and to set an ideal weight for you.
Engage in as much physical activity as you can weekly.
Reduce overeating by controlling portion sizes in your meals.
Include healthy snacks such as, veggies or fruits, to your diet.
Tip #3: Manage your stress levels and get an adequate amount of undisturbed sleep.
Managing stress and getting adequate sleep can have monumental benefits to our heart health. An abundance of stress can cause levels of blood pressure to rise and create uncomfortable feelings such as anxiety. Being severely stressed may also cause disruptions in the sleep cycle, thus creating more health issues in return.
Get on a consistent sleep schedule and stick to it. (going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day)
Refrain from using technology such as, cell phones, tablets and computers, before going to sleep.
Ensure the room is dark enough to not keep you from falling asleep. (use a sleep mask or room darkening curtains to keep out the light).
Tip #4: Quit smoking!
It is no surprise that smoking tobacco or vaping products can cause serious problems to your heart health. Smoking increases blood pressure and heart rate, causing the heart to overwork itself.. Cutting the bad habit of smoking can do optimal things for you and your health. Not only will you feel better mentally and physically, but you will increase your lifespan.
Discuss with your doctor the best options for you. (Nicotine patches, nicotine gums, or prescription medications).
Call a hotline or join a club or program to help you stop smoking. (1–800–QUIT–NOW or http://smokefree.gov/ )
Tip #5: Attend routine doctor’s visits to check important vitals such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Going to the doctor’s can sometimes be stressful, overwhelming or even be too time consuming in your busy schedule. In reality, routine doctors’ visits can prevent diseases and other medical conditions by routine checkups. Routine doctors’ visits can have excellent effects on our heart health, by checking blood pressure and cholesterol routinely.
The first evidence of juicing leads back to B.C. time, but it did not become popular until the 1970s. The diet involves solely consuming juices of vegetables and fruits.While being mindful of the risks involved if not done properly, juicing can prevent diseases and conditions like cancer, asthma, arthritis, and more.
Due to beets’ nitrate content, scientists have found this juice to lower blood pressure. Nitrate is converted into nitric oxide, which then dilates blood vessels and improves blood flow. A study testing this theory had participants with hypertension drink 250 ml (a little over 1 cup) of beet juice every day for 4 weeks. They concluded that this lowered the test group’s blood pressure. Beet juice contains betalains, which is an anti-inflammatory compound. These compounds were found to reduce the activity of an inflammatory enzyme by 32%. This helps prevent inflammatory diseases. Anemia is a condition caused by low iron levels. Iron helps red blood cells transport oxygen around the body. Since beets are rich in iron, drinking beet juice can prevent your iron levels from reaching dangerously low.
Researchers found that when ovarian and colon cancer cells were exposed to juice from the core, flesh, and stem of pineapple, the growth of the cells were suppressed. An additional study found that beta carotene, found very prominently in pineapples, reduces the risk of colon cancer.
In addition to beta carotene lowering the risk of cancer, it also promotes healthy skin. Pineapples are high in vitamin C and beta carotene. These antioxidants reduce wrinkles, improve skin texture, and minimize skin damage. Vitamin C strengthens the skin’s structure by building up collagen.
A study testing cranberry juice on females with metabolic syndrome found that it increased the antioxidants in blood plasma. They were also found to have alower low-density lipoprotein (LDL). LDL is commonly known as the “bad” type of cholesterol.
Researchers found the chemicals in cranberries help fight off certain viruses and bacteria. A common cause of food-borne illness, norovirus, was found to dissipate when introduced to cranberry juice. In a different study, they found cranberry juice to inhibit the growth of 7 different bacterial microbes.
The most common use of cranberry juice is urinary tract infection (UTI) prevention. Cranberry juice has been found to be beneficial against the growth of bacterial pathogens. This is especially true when looking at the bladder.
Since carrots are naturally rich in antioxidants, they play a large role in cancer prevention. In a study testing this theory on stomach cancer, scientists found carrots to decrease a person’s risk by 26%. In addition to antioxidants, carrots also increase the level of carotenoids in blood. Higher levels of carotenoids in the blood lead to lower risks of breast cancer. For those suffering with leukemia, carrot juice extracts were found to stop the leukemia cell cycle.
In addition to cancer, scientists found a direct link between dietary vitamin C intake and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). People with COPD were found to have lower levels of carotene, potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Since carrot juice is naturally high in all of these nutrients, scientists believe consumption of this juice will lower one’s risk of COPD.
Celery contains two beneficial antioxidants – apigenin and luteolin. These two components help reduce inflammation and reduce the severity and risk of inflammatory diseases. Asthma and rhinitis are inflammatory diseases of the upper and lower airway. Luteolin was found to reduce the inflammation and allergic responses of these two diseases.
Researchers found apigenin could suppress arthritis due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It first suppresses the immune system by interrupting the transportation and signaling capabilities of cells that trigger inflammation.
When looking at celery’s effects on fertility, it differs between women and men. For men, celery has a protective effect. Celery can protect against substances that can damage sperm production. Whereas for females, high consumption of celery means a high consumption of apigenin. While having positive effects, high levels of apigenin can also lower fertility
The hormonal shift from the menstrual cycle to menopause is physically and mentally tolling. With side effects ranging from dry chafing during sex, hot flashes, and sleep disturbances – ‘the change’ can be a roller coaster of emotions. Treatment options are far and few and many leave you with a higher risk of certain diseases and health conditions. Finding home remedies to subside the pain and discomfort is essential.
CHANGE OF LIFESTYLE
Doctors recommend when going through the change to follow the below guideline to begin a healthier, stress-free, transition:
Getting regular exercise
Practicing deep breathing exercises
Maintaining a healthy diet
Limiting alcohol intake
Seeking counselling for anxiety, mood changes, and relationship concerns
Establishing good sleeping habits and getting plenty of rest
Doing kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor
Discussing the experience of menopause to friends and family
Exploring new ways of enjoying intimacy with a partner
Joining a club, volunteering, or taking a new hobby
Before menopause begins, estrogen levels start to decrease. This lowers your chance to become pregnant. Diet, exercise, and keeping your body healthy is crucial when trying to conceive a child. Changing your diet and lifestyle can boost fertility rates by up to 69%.
The month of May is designated High Blood Pressure Awareness Month. As someone who was diagnosed with hypertension, getting your blood pressure under control takes dedication and patience. While 1 in 3 adults have high blood pressure, only 1 in 2 of those diagnosed have it under control. Consequently, the repercussions of untreated hypertension range from stroke, heart attack, dementia, and kidney failure. While medication is absolutely necessary for those with hypertension, using alternative practices and better life choices can help and prevent reaching these levels.
Generally speaking, treating hypertension requires daily medication. Specifically, diuretics, beta-blockers, ace inhibitors, ARBs, or calcium channel blockers are the most common. Each of these medications come with its own side effects, but generally include:
Feeling tired, weak, drowsy, or a lack of energy
Nausea or vomiting
Weight loss or gain
Medication is crucial once blood pressure has reached the point of hypertensive. Take action now and try these healthy life habits and practices.
Ultimately, a healthy and balanced diet can help prevent and treat hypertension. Dieticians recommend eating plant-based foods, lowering salt intake to less than 5-6 grams per day, and incorporating healthy fats.
More specifically, here are 15 foods that are recommended for lowering blood pressure:
Leafy green vegetables
Alongside your diet, your daily habits can also play a large role in your health. In the long run, stress, smoking, and poor exercise can have negative effects on your blood pressure. Caffeine and alcohol consumption has been proven to increase blood pressure, as well.
Here are ways you can manage stress, and in turn, reduce your blood pressure:
Meditation and yoga have been used for years to relieve stress and reduce inflammation. Studies show that, in addition to all these benefits, yoga can also help hypertension. With this in mind, some specific yoga poses that help hypertension are: