When was the last time you thought about your kidneys? Chances are, never. If you’re an average American, you probably don’t know where your kidneys are or even that you have two. Alas, you might know that exercise is good for your heart or that high blood pressure can lead to stroke or diabetes. But kidneys have a feeble voice in your health-conscious psyche.
When it comes to kidney health, ignorance isn’t bliss. Kidneys are so vital to your well-being that losing them can mean end of life. They play the powerful roles of filtering everything in your system, keeping your body clear of waste and toxins, balancing your internal fluids, releasing hormones that regulate blood pressure, and controlling the production of red blood cells, among other things. Yet, most people don’t give them a second thought.
The National Kidney Foundation has set out to change that. Their new public awareness campaign, Heart Your Kidneys, set to launch on World Kidney Day on March 9, seeks to lift the kidneys to the status of other, better-understood, vital organs like the heart so that people understand what kidneys do and why they are vital to sustaining life. Their goal is to make kidney health part of everyday conversation.
The truth is that not everyone is at risk of kidney failure. But most people who are don’t know it until it’s too late. The Foundation is encouraging anyone with diabetes, hypertension, or a family history of kidney disease to speak with their healthcare provider and ask about getting tested. It’s simple – it only takes a blood test and a urine sample at your primary doctor’s office to check for any signs of kidney disease.
Even if you’re not at risk for kidney disease, you should still give your kidneys daily love. Follow a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy; watch your alcohol intake; exercise regularly and control your weight; and stay hydrated. Reducing your salt intake and using salt-free seasonings, such as garlic or garlic powder, in your kitchen is also recommended. Diets high in sodium increase blood pressure levels. High blood pressure damages the kidneys over time, and is a leading cause of kidney failure.
It’s about time kidneys got the attention they deserve. Let’s show them some love and help lower the odds of 1 in 3 Americans being at risk for kidney disease.
Join the conversation: #heartyourkidneys