There isn’t much you can do for your kidneys, except don’t abuse them; don’t overwork them; and don’t poison them. You are born with about a million nephrons in each kidney, and they do have a natural attrition. You do lose kidney function just from wear and tear. And, the kidneys have very little healing power. Once a nephron is gone, it is never replaced. You have an allotment at birth, and that is it. I wish I could tell you of a supplement that will protect your kidneys, but I don’t know of any, and if anyone tells you otherwise, they are just speculating, if they aren’t lying.

So, the main way to help your kidneys is to just don’t hurt them. Here are my top 10 tips for preserving your kidneys.

1 Limit salt. Don’t listen to those who say it’s all a big lie. The fact is that most Americans have very salty urine, and that comes from the body trying to keep up with excreting the excess salt that they consume. It is work. It is irritating. It’s a strain. Try to limit your salt intake to no more than 1500 mgs/day. And that’s if you are healthy. If you’re sick; if you have chronic problems; try to get it below 1000, and especially if you have kidney problems. I know people who don’t consume any refined sodium chloride at all. The only salt they get is from celery, spinach, tomatoes, etc. I do consume some salt, but I am careful about it. I read labels, and I keep track of my daily consumption.

2 Limit protein. Obviously, you have to get enough, but when people go on high-protein diets, most of that protein gets broken down. The liver breaks it down, but the kidneys have to excrete the waste. I wouldn’t like it if I had a blood level of urea say in the 20s. But, high protein eaters can have blood urea over 30. I wouldn’t like that. Getting rid of nitrogenous waste is one of the biggest burdens the kidneys have, so why make it harder than it has to be?

 

3 Avoid alcohol. That’s because alcohol is toxic to the kidneys. This is from the National Kidney Foundation. Alcohol causes changes in the function of the kidneys and makes them less able to filter the blood. Alcohol also affects the ability to regulate fluid and electrolytes in the body. When alcohol dehydrates (dries out) the body, the drying effect can affect the normal function of cells and organs, including the kidneys.

I do not drink. Call me a teetotaler; call me a party-pooper; call me whatever you want. But, I do not drink.

4 Don’t smoke. And I mean don’t smoke anything. Smoke, of any kind, contains toxic substances which irritate the kidneys and cause damage. Smoking reduces blood flow to your kidneys, and it raises blood pressure, which hurts your kidneys. It also leads to atherosclerosis which hurts your kidneys. Don’t smoke. Anything.

5 Eat an alkalinizing diet. Your blood as a ph of 7.4 where 7.0 is neutral. That may sound like it’s only slightly alkaline, but it’s logarithmic scale, where 8 is 10x more alkaline than 7. So, 7. 4 is pretty darn alkaline, and it means that we should be eating an alkaline diet. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat any acid-forming foods because you need them too. But, you need to buffer them by eating an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables.

6 Exercise, but not to extremes. Your kidneys, like the rest of your body, benefit from you exercising. However, while you are exercising, your kidneys are relatively deprived of blood, and if someone exercises to an extreme, it might actually tax your kidneys. Of course, there are other harms from excessive exercise as well. What it comes down to, in my opinion, is that if you are exercising for health, than moderation is the watchword. If you go for a vigorous 3 mile walk, that’s going to deliver all the health benefits. Beyond that, you are doing more than you have to. And that’s just an example that pertains to walking, but it applies to everything. Be diligent about exercise, and be regular about it. But, don’t be excessive.

7 Get sufficient sleep. More blood goes to your kidneys when you are sleeping. And it’s when you are sleeping that your kidneys have the easiest time of doing the balancing and normalizing of your blood chemistry on which your life depends. So, do your kidneys a favor and get plenty of sleep.

8 Be wary of drugs because many of them, and most of them, are nephro-toxic. Your kidneys have to eliminate the drugs that you take, and many drugs are renowned for damaging the kidneys. A good example are pain-killers. All the NSAID painkillers like Aleve and Ibuprofen damage the kidneys. You don’t feel lt. You don’t sense it. But, they do. And I have known people who wound up with destroyed kidneys, where it was time to go on dialysis, whose doctors told them that all the years of taking painkillers is what destroyed their kidneys. And again: it is irreversible; completely and totally irreversible. And even diuretics, which are given to increase urine output, are damaging to the kidneys. Most of the time, it’s just not worth it to take them.  It really isn’t.

9 Watch your blood pressure and keep it low naturally. I have written before that I HATE blood pressure drugs. I hate them all. Every single one of them, and there are all kinds, are like throwing a monkey wrench in your machinery. But, at the same time, I recognize the value of having lower blood pressure. High blood pressure alone can lead to heart disease. I don’t doubt it. And it can also damage your kidneys. So, through diet and exercise and even supplements, there is a lot you can do to keep your blood pressure down without drugs, and you should.

10 Get an annual blood test to see how your kidneys are doing. It’s part of the serum chemistry panel that they do, and it will typically include urea, uric acid, and creatinine. The flagship is creatinine. Basically, you want it at 1 or less. Even if rose to 1.5, it would be cause for concern, and the need to see what is going. On. And as long as it stays nice and low, you can be confident that your kidneys are holding up.  

So, love your kidneys because you’re not getting any more, and once they’re gone, they’re gone. Dialysis is no picnic, nor is getting a kidney transplant. And I intend to go my whole life without ever experiencing either one.