An old saying states that the best treatment is prevention – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It may be a clich but it is definitely true. Both to ward off kidney disease and to optimize overall health, it is wise to keep your kidneys in top working order. But how do you do that?
One utterly simple, but utterly obvious way to keep kidneys in good shape is proper hydration. Obvious in retrospect, that is, after you understand what the kidneys do.
One of their main functions is to regulate the amount of fluid in the body. So, help them out by drinking more on hot days and less during cooler weather. Take humidity into account, though, since this alters how the body retains water.
The right amount of fluid helps flush the kidneys, but doesn’t overtax them. How much is the right amount differs with gender, body weight, and activity level. Look for specific guidelines at your favorite sports health website or, better still, ask your doctor.
Just as a rough rule of thumb… The average urine output for adults is about 1.5 liters. So, that much will need to be replaced daily. Also, check that your urine is clear or lightly colored, indicating that not too much material is accumulating in the waste fluid. That will also help lower the odds of kidney stones.
Another major function of the kidneys, their role in balancing electrolyte levels, gives another guideline for kidney health. Electrolytes, as the word suggests, are chemicals involved in the body’s electrical activity. The two major ones are sodium and potassium though there are others, such as calcium and phosphates.
Among other things, sodium and potassium play key roles in regulating blood pressure and make it possible for the heart to beat at all. Following dietary guidelines about their proper intake, therefore, will help overall cardiovascular health along with kidney function.
Decreasing salt intake tends to lower blood pressure. Keeping it less than 2,300 mg is the official amount stated by the USDA. For those with hypertension (high blood pressure) no more than 1,500 mg is recommended. Potassium consumed should be no more than 4,700 mg per day.
On the other hand, too little is equally bad because of sodium’s vital role in the body. The minimum turns out to be about the recommended maximum, in the neighborhood of 2,300 mg. For potassium, the number is a bit lower than the maximum, around 3,500 mg daily.
Keep in mind that these are only rough amounts and can vary considerably depending on your total calorie intake, weight, age, and other factors. Your physician is among the best sources for nutritional guidance when it comes to your kidneys. Take information from any other source with an, ahem, grain of salt.