March is National Kidney Month – the perfect time for a quick reminder on how to keep those two little, bean shaped organs healthy!
You may already know that the kidneys produce urine and have the job of filtering our blood, but did you realize that they have a whole host of additional responsibilities?
Controlling blood pressure, regulating fluids, balancing minerals, activating vitamin D and directing the production of red blood cells are just a few of the jobs that kidneys are tasked with. Our kidneys stay busy 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so it’s vital that we take care of them!
Here at West Orange Nephrology, we emphasize 5 simple lifestyle choices that not only help protect your kidneys but also prevent and reverse associated conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. Good news... these same behaviors have been shown to promote weight management, a healthy gut microbiome, longevity and brain health!
Plant-Based Whole Foods
Fruits, vegetables, legumes and intact whole grains. Plant foods are naturally high in fiber and low in fat, with a balance of macronutrients, vitamins and minerals to promote health and healing. Spend some time in the produce section and eat a rainbow of colors! Vibrant fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants and phytochemicals ready to battle inflammation and those pesky free-radicals.
That means water. Coffee, soda and alcoholic beverages don’t count... in fact, you’ll need to add to your daily fluid intake just to make up for the dehydrating effects of those not-so-healthy drinks. Having trouble getting in your two liters a day? Many fruits and vegetables contain over 90% water. Cucumber, melons, celery, cauliflower, tomatoes and spinach are just a few delicious ways you can eat for hydration too!
You’ve got to move. There are plenty of exercises designed to improve strength, stamina, flexibility and balance, but don’t assume that you have to hit the gym to break a sweat. Cycling, yoga and weight training are great options but so are mowing the lawn, vacuuming and walking the dog. At the very least, find opportunities throughout the day to stand up, stretch and get going!
Nurturing healthy relationships and being part of a strong social community promotes both mental and physical health. Connecting with others keeps us active and gives our lives purpose. So step out and find your tribe... have fun, learn to laugh, lend a helping hand. It’s no secret that being loved and appreciated makes everyone feel good!
It’s important to get proper sleep. Allowing the body time to rejuvenate and repair helps us deal with stress, protects our immune system, reduces inflammation, supports hormone balance and even improves brain health. How much sleep do you need? It’s not just quantity... but also quality. For most people that means 6-8 hours of uninterrupted rest, allowing for the completion of several sleep cycles, so you can awake refreshed and ready for the day!
That’s it! Pretty simple, right? Of course the real key to success isn’t just knowing what to do but figuring out how you are going to do it. Want some advice? Start small. Really small. Tiny even.
Choose one simple goal that’s highly important to YOU and then have fun (yes, fun!) experimenting with ways to get there. Make your chosen actions a bit challenging but also very doable. Decide on a way to stay accountable to your progress and then... practice, practice, practice.
Remember that you are your own expert. When obstacles arise, ultimately you are the one who will know how to overcome them. Building healthy habits can be challenging, so stick with it. You'll be empowered by taking responsibility for your personal wellness... and your kidneys will thank you!