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Nurture Your Kidneys: Expert Tips for Kidney Health

08 Mar 2024

Your kidneys play a crucial role in maintaining overall well-being, and taking proactive steps to care for them can significantly reduce the risk of kidney-related issues. 

For World Kidney Day, we talked to Consultant Nephrologist Dr Robin Woolfson, to ask for his essential tips to help you keep your kidneys healthy.

Dr Robin Woolfson
Dr Robin Woolfson

I’m a nephrologist, which is a doctor who specialises in diagnosing and treating kidney conditions – including chronic kidney disease, and kidney stones, as well as seeing patients who require kidney dialysis and transplants. 

What are the kidneys?

The kidneys are two bean shaped organs which sit partly behind your ribcage, at the back of the abdomen. Their main functions are to purify the blood and control the body’s fluid balance.

The kidneys also regulate salt levels in the blood, control blood pressure, regulate bone metabolism/development and influence red cell production via the bone marrow to prevent anaemia.

Doctor with kidney model

What some ways people can keep their kidneys healthy?

By incorporating these simple yet effective tips into our daily lives, we can contribute to the well-being of our kidneys and reduce the risk of kidney-related complications, and the risk of developing kidney disease. Remember, small steps today can lead to significant benefits for your kidney health in the long run.

1. Stay Hydrated:

You hear this one all the time, but it’s so important to drink enough water. Drinking sufficient fluids helps to flush out toxins and waste products from your body, and promotes optimal kidney function.

When you’re dehydrated the urine will contain higher amounts of minerals and waste, which increases the risk of forming kidney stones. People at risk of kidney stones should ensure they’re keeping hydrated, drinking more water in warmer weather or if they exercise.

2. Maintain a Balanced Diet:

Adopting a kidney-friendly diet is crucial for supporting kidney and cardiovascular health. Try to include a variety of nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins in your meals. Limit your intake of processed foods, saturated fats, excessive salt and alcohol, as these can contribute to high blood pressure and other conditions that put a strain on your kidneys.

Healthy food

3. Control your Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar Levels:

Hypertension and diabetes are leading causes of kidney damage. Effective management of blood pressure and blood sugar levels can significantly reduce the risk of developing kidney disease. Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle through regular exercise and a balanced diet.

4. Exercise Regularly

Exercise helps control blood pressure, manage weight, and it improves metabolism, overall circulation and general well-being. Aim for 2-3 hours of moderate-intensity exercise per week, doing a form of exercise you enjoy, whether it’s a brisk walk, cycling, or swimming, to help keep your kidneys in top condition.

People riding bikes

5. Don’t Smoke:

We all know smoking isn’t good for you. Did you also know smokers are more likely to have higher levels of protein in their urine? Amongst other factors, this can be a sign of kidney disease, and puts them at a greater risk of declining health, particularly if there are other underlying medical problems.

6. Avoid excessive NSAID usage:

NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen) are very effective for relieving pain and inflammation. However, when taken regularly over longer periods of time, these over the counter medications can damage kidney health.

Who is more at risk of developing kidney health issues?

Kidney stones are more common amongst people who are sedentary with a low fluid intake, as well as those who are obese, have a family history, certain dietary excesses, gastro-intestinal problems with chronic diarrhoea and other underlying medical problems.

• Those most at risk of developing chronic kidney disease are people with the following conditions, or a family history of those conditions: diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney failure. Obesity and excessive consumption NSAID medications, such as ibuprofen are also risk factors.

Kidney disease is more common amongst ethnic minorities, partly due to the increased prevalence of diabetes and hypertension which are the most common risk factors.

What are the signs and symptoms of poor kidney health?

In the early stages there are usually no signs of impaired kidney function. Instead this is often detected by routine blood and urine tests.

Very few people who have chronic kidney disease require dialysis, but it is now clear that impaired kidney function is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease so early identification and treatment is key.  

If you fit within one or more of the above risk categories, have a family history of kidney failure or kidney issues, have chronic kidney disease or other related health concerns, you should book in to see a GP. 
We have GP services available here at The London Clinic, and if needed you can be referred for tests and diagnostics.


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