By the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan

ANN ARBOR — March is National Kidney Month and March 12, 2015 is World Kidney Day. The National Kidney Foundation of Michigan (NKFM) is calling on all Michiganders to take five healthy steps for their kidneys. More than 900,000 Michigan adults have chronic kidney disease and most don’t know it. In most cases, chronic kidney disease can be managed or prevented to delay the onset of other health complications.

The kidneys are the body’s chemical factories, filtering waste and performing vital functions that control things like red blood cell production and blood pressure. But over time, the kidneys can become damaged with little or no physical symptoms to warn you that your kidneys are in trouble.

“Of the 26 million American adults estimated to have kidney disease, most don’t know they have it. That’s why taking care of your kidneys, especially if you are at risk for kidney disease, is vital,” said Joseph Vassalotti, MD, National Kidney Foundation Chief Medical Officer. “There are a few simple things people can do to keep their kidneys healthy and strong.”

Take 5 for Your Kidneys

Everyone can do 5 simple things to protect their kidneys:

  1. Get Tested! Ask your doctor for an ACR urine test or a GFR blood test annually if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, are over age 60, or have a family history of kidney failure.
  2. Reduce NSAIDs. Over the counter pain medicines, such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), may alleviate your aches and pains, but they can harm the kidneys, especially if you already have kidney disease. Reduce your regular use of NSAIDs and never go over the recommended dosage.
  3. Cut the Processed Foods. Processed foods can be significant sources of sodium, nitrates and phosphates, and have been linked to cancer, heart disease and kidney disease. Try adopting the DASH diet to guide your healthy eating habits.
  4. Exercise Regularly. Your kidneys like it when you exercise. Regular exercise will keep your bones, muscles, blood vessels, heart and kidneys healthy. Getting active for at least 30 minutes a day can also help you control blood pressure and lower blood sugar, which is vital to kidney health.
  5. Stay Well Hydrated. Staying well hydrated helps your kidneys clear sodium, urea and toxins from the body. Drinking plenty of water, and avoiding sugary beverages, is also one of the best ways to avoid painful kidney stones. Those with kidney problems or kidney failure may need to restrict their fluid intake, but for most people, drinking 1.5 to 2 liters (3 to 4 pints) of water per day is a healthy target.

Throughout National Kidney Month, the NKFM is offering resources, community events, and more! To find a local program or event near you, or to learn more about the risk factors for kidney disease, visit www.nkfm.org/KidneyMonth.

The mission of the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan is to prevent kidney disease and improve the quality of life for those living with it. Since its inception, the NKFM has led the fight against kidney disease and is widely known for providing more programs and services to more people than any other region or state. The NKFM was recently ranked #1 in the category of Diseases, Disciplines, and Disorders by Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities. The organization has also been recognized for its success in sound fiscal management by receiving a 4-star rating, seven years in a row from Charity Navigator. In 2014, the NKFM was named in the “11 Top-Rated Charities that Changed the World in 2014” by the Huffington Post.