Your kidneys, two bean shaped organs flanking your spine, are important for removing waste products and extra fluid from your body. Not limited to waste removal, your kidneys also help to balance the body's fluids, release hormones that regulate blood pressure, control the production of red blood cells, and produce an active form of vitamin D that supports healthy bones. Your kidneys work hard to keep you healthy.
Your kidneys can be negatively impacted by a number of factors in your life, from diet to disease (diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease). There is one hidden danger to your kidneys that you may not even think about - stress.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, "Stress and uncontrolled reactions to stress can also lead to kidney damage. As the blood filtering units of your body, your kidneys are prone to problems with blood circulation and blood vessels. High blood pressure and high blood sugar can place an additional strain or burden on your kidneys. People with high blood pressure and diabetes are at a higher risk for heart and blood vessel disease. If you already have heart and blood vessel disease and kidney disease, then the body's reactions to stress can become even more dangerous."
What can you do to reduce stress and keep your kidneys healthy?
Managing stress can be achieved through a variety of methods. Stress can be either physiological, such as your body dealing with infection, injury, or disease, or psychological, such as anxiety, conflict, or arguments. Keeping healthy with a good diet and exercise will go a long way towards managing physical stressors. Some simple ways to reduce emotional stress include:
- Set time aside to relax
- Try yoga, meditation, deep breathing, or another relaxation technique
- Get plenty of physical activity - even a daily walk can be beneficial
- Get plenty of sleep and maintain a regular sleep schedule
Feed Your Kidneys
Eliminate excess salt, caffeine,and sugar from your diet, advices the National Kidney Foundation, especially if you are prone to high blood pressure or diabetes. Feeding your kidneys a diet rich in certain nutrients can also help them working efficiently. Healthy kidneys rely on nutrients to properly function, such as:
Vitamin B6 - Vitamin B6 can play a role in preventing kidney stones, and the Linus Pauling institute found that women who consume more than 40mg of B6 per day have a lower risk of developing kidney stones. B6 can be found in fortified cereals, hazelnuts, bananas, salmon, spinach, and turkey.
Vitamin C - Vitamin C is an antioxidant vitamin that protects your cells from oxidative stress (cellular damage that can increase your risk of disease). Low levels of vitamin C may even be linked to kidney disease in non-diabetic patients. Load up on citrus fruits, bell peppers, camu camu, and pineapple to get plenty of this important nutrient.
Vitamin D - Vitamin D, the "sunshine vitamin" is often deficient in patients with chronic kidney disease. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps to regulate kidney function. Vitamin D can be found in fortified dairy products, salmon, sardines, and fortified soymilk.
Potassium- Potassium is an essential mineral that can help decrease the risk of kidney stones. Increasing dietary potassium by increasing fruit and vegetable intake was found to decrease urinary calcium excretion linked to kidney stones. Foods rich in potassium include bananas, prunes, tomato juice, tomatoes, oranges, spinach, almonds, and sunflower seeds.
By preventing or lowering stress and eating a nutrient-rich diet, you will be helping your kidneys to remain healthy and strong.
Melissa Zimmerman, Healthy Goods