Every year 57,000 of us in the UK are treated for kidney failure, and some 3 million of us are under threat of chronic kidney conditions.
The kidneys are tasked with filtering waste from the blood before turning it into urine. High blood pressure, smoking and diabetes (the biggest cause of kidney failure) can all accelerate kidney damage.
Although for some people certain kidney conditions are unpreventable, the rest of us can make changes to reduce the risk of developing kidney-related diseases.
So for World Kidney Day (March 8), here are seven things you can do to help your kidneys out:
Cutting back on the amount of salt in your diet will help your kidneys do their jobs properly.
6g a day is the maximum recommended intake, and one of the reasons to keep your salt intake low is to maintain a good blood pressure and to try and prevent problems with your kidneys.
Fresh and dried herbs, onions, garlic, lemon juice, vinegar and spices are all good salt substitutes and will enhance flavour in dishes. Try to make food from scratch where possible so you can track how much salt you eat.
Making sure you drink water regularly (but not excessively), and especially when exercising or in hot places, will help your kidneys function properly.
Bear in mind that your wee should be straw-coloured. If it’s darker, it could be a sign that you’re dehydrated. Other signs are headaches, fatigue, dry or chapped lips and confusion.
Eat fresh fruit and veg
By upping the amount of fruit and veg in your diet, you’re giving your body – and in turn your kidneys – the nutrients and minerals it needs to run smoothly.
But, if do you opt for tinned veg…
…rinse the veg in water before you cook or eat it to remove any salt. The same goes for tinned pulses too.
Check the labels…
Always check the salt content of whatever you're eating and remember that you're aiming to eat no more than 6g of salt a day.
Keep your weight in check
Biscuits, crisps, cakes, chocolate…yes, they’re all delicious. But, as we all know, eating too many treats too often can set off a chain of health complaints. Not least of which is that being overweight can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, which in turn puts pressure on your kidneys and can cause kidney disease. Keep your blood sugar stable by eating well-balanced meals.