How to Boost Your Kidney Health

When the kidneys are working at their best, we rarely think about them. But just like you need to take steps to protect your heart, you should also take steps to boost your kidney health.

The kidneys play an important role in the body. These powerhouses are responsible for filtering your blood — removing waste and excess water and turning them into urine, which is then transported out of the body.

But when the kidneys aren’t working effectively, it can impact the entire body. That’s why it’s important to take steps to keep your kidneys healthy and strong.

Give Your Kidney Health a Boost

About one-third of American adults are at risk of developing kidney disease.

There’s good news, though. The actions you take today can impact your kidney health now and in the future. Not sure where to begin? Start here:

Know your risk factors

Many Americans have at least one risk factor for kidney disease. Having a family history of the condition, being overweight or obese and having another chronic condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease all increase your risk.

Knowing your risk factors can help you work with your medical provider to determine how you can improve and protect your health.

Recognize the symptoms of kidney disease

Kidney disease often goes undetected until it’s in an advanced stage. Because of that, it’s especially important to pay attention to symptoms that may indicate your kidneys aren’t working effectively.

Urination-related symptoms such as painful urination, discolored or foamy urine, or an increased need to urinate should all be checked out by a doctor.

Other symptoms such as fatigue, increased thirst, or swelling near the eyes, face, hands, abdomen or feet also merit medical attention.

Fuel your body in a healthy way

What foods are good for the kidneys? That’s not a trick question — in general, they’re the same foods that are good for your overall health.

Fill your plate with plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and low-fat or nonfat dairy. Limit your intake of sodium and added sugar.

Tailor your diet as needed to manage other conditions that increase your risk of kidney disease, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

Move your body often 

Experts recommend that all adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. If that sounds overwhelming, break it down. That’s just more than 20 minutes per day of an activity that gets your heart pumping. Beyond formal workouts, make it a priority to simply move more throughout your day.

Don’t smoke

Smoking damages the body’s blood vessels, which can limit the flow of blood to the kidneys. Talk with your medical provider about a smoking cessation strategy that will work for you, which may include medications or other helpful tactics.

Take medications wisely

Did you know that taking an excess amount of cold medication could damage your kidneys?

Most cold medications — and many other over-the-counter medications — contain anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen. Taking too much of those meds or taking them along with another med containing that ingredient, can damage the kidneys.

Be careful to read ingredient labels and ask your doctor or pharmacist if you’re uncertain what you’re taking.

Drink up

Keeping your body hydrated is important. There’s no one-size-fits-all standard for how much to drink, but it’s good to sip on water continually throughout the day.

You can also keep an eye on your urine color; if it’s darker than pale yellow, you may need to drink more.

Kidney Care at University Health

Learn more about kidney care for adults and children at University Health in San Antonio.

Subscribe icon
Get health living and wellness information, recipes, and patient stories from University Health.
View other related content by:

Tell us your patient story

Share your inspiring personal story of hope and healing at University Health.