Did you know that drinking water improves your kidney health? You do your best to lead a healthy life. You try to eat right, you shun the temptation of the candy bar and potato chip-filled vending machine at work. You are more than aware of the dangers of smoking and drinking and while your job and career keep you largely desk-bound, you do your best to get up and get active in your free time whether you’re playing sports, working out in the gym or simply taking the family for a long hike.
But there’s one integral part of our health that all too many of us still neglect.
We all know that we should drink at least 8 glasses of water a day but how many of us actually do? Fewer than you may think! In fact, recent studies show that almost 80 percent of Americans aren’t drinking enough water. That’s four out of five of us!
Drinking plenty of water helps to keep every organ in the body healthy. When someone is well hydrated we tend to see it in their clear and radiant skin (the body’s largest organ). But just because hydration is also helping the organs we can’t see, doesn’t make it any less important. Here we’re going to look at why drinking water is extremely important for great kidney health.
What your kidneys do and why it’s so important to keep them healthy
Your kidneys are a remarkable biological machine. And just like any machine, when it’s doing its job well, it’s all too easy to forget that it’s even there at all. Your kidneys work hard for you all day every day but you might not even know their function, how they work and why it’s so important to keep them healthy.
Until a kidney stone or a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) comes along and you realize that you should’ve been taking better care of your kidneys.
What do your kidneys do?
Kidneys are essentially your body’s water regulators. These smart little organs know exactly how much water your body needs and will expel excess water as urine when there is too much. When your water stores are low they will also help your body to retain as much water as possible to allow your body to function. As well as ridding your body of excess water, they also filter out toxins, dispelling them from your body in your urine.
Kidneys also produce important hormones that help to regulate the production of red blood cells, keep your blood pressure under control and maintain just the right balance of calcium in your body.
They do so much for you and ask very little in return. All they ask is for you to do whatever you can to make their job easier. And if you’re the kind of person who hasn’t looked a crystal clear glass of water in the eye for weeks or even months, your kidneys are likely crying out for a drop of the good stuff. You may assume that if you’re drinking lots of fluids in general that you don’t need to worry about drinking water as well. But this is a common misconception (and one that we’ll talk more about later). As it happens, 17% of Americans drink 0 glasses of water a day. And this can prove disastrous for their kidney health in the long term.
Drink lots of water every day and your kidneys will reap the benefits… which means the rest of your body will, too!
How drinking plenty of water helps
A steady flow of water through your body makes it easier for kidneys to function optimally. They have a ready supply to distribute throughout the body, keeping your cells and organs functioning optimally. As well as enjoying healthy and functional kidneys, the well-hydrated also enjoy the following benefits…
Keep kidney stones at bay
Anyone who has ever had a kidney stone will likely not be keen to repeat the process. These form when an excess of minerals (including salt) and other waste products forms in the kidneys, clumping together to create stone-like deposits. These are usually fairly small and are passed painlessly in our urine. However, when we are dehydrated they can grow larger and harder. A process that can be extremely painful, not to mention damaging for the kidneys. Usually, this is treated by using shock waves to break the stones into smaller pieces so that they can be passed through your urine.
Staying hydrated is a very small price to pay for saving yourself the pain and discomfort of kidney stones.
Reduce the risk of recurring UTIs (and further complications)
Urinary tract infections are fairly common and easy to treat if caught quickly. However, if they are left untreated they can climb up to the kidneys and this can result in a serious kidney infection called pyelonephritis. This can only be treated in a hospital with intravenous antibiotics. UTIs occur when bacteria build up in the urinary tract. When you drink lots of water you’re more likely to urinate regularly which can help flush out potentially harmful bacteria. If you have already had a UTI, staying hydrated can greatly reduce the risk of it recurring.
What you can do to keep your kidneys healthy
As you can see, drinking lots of water not only helps you to keep your kidneys in tip-top shape, it can reduce the risk of painful conditions and potentially dangerous infections. But let’s be realistic here. You lead a busy lifestyle. How can you be expected to know how much you should be drinking and whether or not your kidneys are, indeed, working at peak efficiency?
Here are some ways in which you can ensure that your kidneys are healthy and your body is adequately hydrated no matter how busy you are.
Know how much is enough
It’s important to know how much water your body needs to keep your kidneys fully functional. 8 glasses is a good rule of thumb but it’s not a hard and fast rule for everybody. According to the Institute of Medicine, it is estimated that men need approximately 13 cups (3 liters) of water every day to remain healthy, while women need approximately 9 cups (2.2 liters) of water a day. To keep your urinary tract free of infection it’s recommended that you drink enough to produce 2-2 ½ liters of urine every day.
Keep on sippin’
Drinking 3 liters of water a day might be a daunting task, especially if you’re not someone who relishes the taste of water and finds it tricky to get away from their desks. However, rather than trying to take on 3 liters in one go, try sipping gradually throughout the day. You may be surprised by just how easy it is.
Water means water
It’s easy to assume that all fluids are interchangeable as far as your body is concerned. However, when it comes to keeping your body hydrated and your kidneys functioning optimally when we say you should be drinking more water… we mean water. Not coffee. Not tea. Not juice. And certainly not soda. Water.
Coffee and tea (as well as alcoholic drinks) can actually have a dehydrating effect on the body while juice, soda and energy drinks- no matter how much they market themselves as healthy alternatives, are often loaded with sugar and can actually push water out of your cells (where it belongs) and into your bloodstream.
Thus, one of the most important things you can do is ensure that you’re drinking more water and less of everything else! If you simply can’t get along with the taste of water, try using a filter to get rid of any trace elements of minerals that may affect your tap water’s taste. Or alternatively, opt for bottled water (just be sure to recycle the bottle afterward).
Check your urine
Your urine is a good indicator of just how hydrated you are. If you are drinking enough water, your urine should be straw-colored or lighter. If your urine is dark and/or strong smelling, however, this is a strong indication that you’re not hydrated enough.
Want to know more about keeping your kidneys happy and healthy? Get in touch today!
Hopefully, this post has helped you to realize all the amazing things that your kidneys do for you and why it’s so important to keep them healthy. Staying well-hydrated is a great way to keep your kidneys well maintained and flush out the bacteria which can cause infections. However, when it comes to comprehensive kidney care, good hydration is the tip of the iceberg. Take care of your kidneys and you go a long way towards safeguarding your health for life.
We’re here to make taking care of your kidneys easier.
South Texas Renal Care Group is steadfastly committed to providing you with comprehensive kidney care. By looking after your kidneys, we help you to help keep the rest of your body as healthy as possible.
If you are in need of leading-edge kidney care treatments, or simply want to know more about what you can do to look after your kidneys, contact us today at (210) 212-8622.
We can’t wait to hear from you!