Your kidneys probably aren’t getting enough attention. Most of the 26 million American adults that have kidney disease don’t know it, and African-Americans are three times more likely to experience kidney failure.
“It’s a silent killer, it has very few symptoms, and most people find out that they have kidney disease when they’re in the emergency room and in the advanced stages of the disease,” says Anne Black, chief executive officer of the National Kidney Fund of Illinois. “And at that point, it’s either dialysis or kidney transplant in order to live.”
It’s much easier to take a proactive approach toward kidney health. Here are nine ways to take better care of your kidneys, as recommended by the National Kidney Fund of Illinois:
1. Up your water intake.
Water is essential in keeping your kidneys healthy because it helps them remove waste from your body and helps blood carry nutrients to them. It also prevents kidney stones and urinary tract infections. Although an eight-glass goal is a good start, every person needs a different amount. The Institute of Medicine currently recommends 13 glasses for men and nine for women each day.
2. Watch your weight.
Weight indirectly affects your kidneys. Excess weight, especially around your waist, increases the risk of other conditions. Chronic illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension can cause chronic kidney disease.
3. Keep your blood pressure down.
One in three Americans has high blood pressure. Uncontrolled, it’s the second leading cause of kidney failure in the country. To avoid this risk, work to keep your blood pressure below 120/80.