While you can’t prevent your kidneys from aging (like everything else), you can slow down the process. Of course, the healthier you are in your younger years, the healthier your kidneys will be when you’re old and gray. Here are the Ten Commandments of good kidney health to incorporate into your lifestyle today.
1. Stop smoking. The results of a 2007 study published by the American Physiological Society suggest that nicotine is a major factor in the development of kidney disease.
2. Get your “levels” under control: cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar.
3. Rethink your diet. Avoid soda (especially ones with high-fructose corn syrup, a known cause of obesity and inflammation); load up on organic fruits, veggies, and whole grains; stay away from salty and processed foods; and limit animal products to lean cuts of chicken or fish a couple of times a week.
4. Pay attention to your digestion. Adding pre- and probiotics and additional fiber can aid elimination; steering clear of pesticide-laden foods will put less strain on your kidneys.
5. Avoid pain medications and any other prescription or over-the-counter meds that may tax the kidneys, such as Motrin, Advil, and any other NSAIDs. If you have to use them, even short term, take milk thistle (80 to 160 mg two to three times a day).
6. Get plenty of exercise, including aerobics that will get your heart rate up, five or six times a week.
7. Stay hydrated. Drink at least six to eight glasses of water (preferably filtered) every day.
8. Cut back on alcohol consumption. Overindulgence can increase blood pressure (a problem for the kidneys) and urination (which can cause dehydration).
9. Do something every day to decompress and de-stress, such as listening to music, doing yoga or t’ai chi, or laughing with friends and family.
10. Take these herbs to keep your kidneys healthy and prevent kidney stones and other problems:
Dandelion: Rich in beta-carotene and high in potassium, dandelion works as a gentle diuretic, as well as a liver and kidney tonic. The roots can be steeped as a tea, and the leaves eaten raw in salads. Or take 500 mg twice a day.
Stinging nettle: Taken in tea (1 tablespoon steeped in 1 cup of hot water) or supplement form (follow dosing on the package), nettles are high in chlorophyll, which tones and supports the whole body, particularly the urinary and digestive systems.