How to Improve Kidney Function Naturally
Maintaining optimal kidney function is crucial for overall health and well-being. Your kidneys play a vital role in:
- Filtering waste products and toxins from your blood,
- Balancing your fluid levels, and
- Regulating your blood pressure.
When you have chronic kidney disease (CKD), any help that you can give your kidneys is significant. If you prefer to support, and improve, your kidney function naturally, here are some healthy lifestyle tips that you can implement at home, at work, or while traveling.
Stay properly hydrated and avoid smoking
Adequate hydration is essential for kidney health. Drinking clean water helps flush out toxins, and prevents the formation of kidney stones. It can also reduce the risk of CKD. Speak with your kidney doctor and renal dietitian to determine how much water or other fluids are safe for you to consume at your stage of CKD, according to your individual needs and activity level.
Excessive alcohol consumption can impair your kidney function and lead to dehydration, causing further kidney damage. To protect your kidneys, it’s best to limit your alcohol intake or avoid it altogether. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation, which is generally defined as one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. Speak with your doctor about what level of alcohol consumption may be right for you.
Excessive alcohol consumption can impair your kidney function and lead to dehydration, causing further kidney damage.
While you’re working on flushing toxins out of your body, it’s also a good idea to avoid putting more in. Smoking is harmful to overall health, including kidney function. The toxins in cigarettes, cigars, and vapes can damage blood vessels and impair blood flow to the kidneys. Research has linked smoking to an increased risk of kidney disease and faster progression of kidney damage. Quitting smoking not only improves kidney function but also reduces the risk of a host of other health complications.
Manage your blood pressure
High blood pressure can damage your heart, blood vessels, brain, eyes, and kidneys over time. You can manage your blood pressure by:
- Eating a healthy diet,
- Reducing your sodium intake,
- Exercising regularly, and
- Controlling your blood sugar.
Follow a balanced diet, but customize it
Eating a balanced diet is an important way to improve kidney health. What does ‘balanced’ mean? A balanced diet includes a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in your meals. These foods, particularly dark, leafy greens, berries, and fatty, coldwater fish, provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can improve kidney function and help prevent kidney disease from developing or worsening.
Diets such as the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet seem to work well as a food base for many people living with CKD. Both diets emphasize fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.
All of these can lower blood pressure and improve kidney function. Your renal dietition can tell you which fruits and vegetables, and what sized portions of them, are safe for your particular needs, and help you craft healthy, satisfying meals for a sustainable kidney-friendly diet.
Reduce your sodium intake
Part of a healthy diet is minimizing the amount of salt in your meals and snacks. Too much sodium can raise your blood pressure and place a strain on your kidneys. To improve kidney function, limit your sodium intake by avoiding processed and packaged foods, and opt for fresh ingredients instead. The National Kidney Foundation recommends a maximum sodium intake of fewer than 2,300 milligrams per day. Instead of salt, try seasoning your dishes with herbs, spices, or lemon juice to enhance the flavor.
Exercise regularly and frequently
Regular exercise is one of the important lifestyle changes you can make to slow disease progression.
(This image is from Freepik.)
Regular, and frequent, exercise can improve kidney function and health by improving all-body blood circulation and helping you maintain a healthy weight for your frame that won’t place a strain on your internal organs, including your heart and kidneys. Heart strain can increase blood pressure, which in turn affects most other organs, including your brain. Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise like cycling, swimming, or brisk walking as many days per week as possible.
Control your blood sugar
High blood sugar levels can cause the small blood vessels in your kidneys to become scarred and clogged, narrowing the space for healthy blood flow. Uncontrolled high blood sugar can lead to diabetes, one of the primary causes of kidney disease. Scarred kidneys also result in salt and water retention, raising blood pressure. The combination of narrowed blood vessels and fluid retention contributes significantly to high blood pressure.”
Get sufficient good quality sleep
While diet, exercise, and not smoking may be obvious lifestyle habits to put into practice, one daily activity doesn’t receive nearly enough attention, though it impacts our health in powerful ways. This activity is sleep. Proper rest and sleep are vital for overall health, including kidney function. Getting a sufficient amount of good quality sleep clears toxins and wastes from your brain, strengthens your immune system, and helps you manage stress, all of which lower blood pressure and support your ability to fight off disease.
Experts say that seven to eight hours of quality sleep each night enables your body to repair and refresh itself. Insufficient sleep has been linked to a higher risk of developing CKD.
If you find it challenging to fall asleep, stay asleep, or get good quality rest regardless of how long you’re actually sleeping, here are some tips to get more rejuvenating sleep.