August 15, 2019/Urinary & Kidney Health

7 Secrets to Keeping Your Kidneys Healthy

Take action to prevent common diseases that harm kidneys

Older man drinking water after working out

High blood pressure, diabetes or a family history of kidney failure put one in three Americans at an increased risk of developing kidney disease. But even if you don’t have any of those risk categories, it’s important to take care of these critically important organs.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

There are several things you can do to keep your kidneys as healthy as possible at every stage of life:

  1. Hydrate, but don’t overdo it. “Contrary to popular belief, no studies have proven over-hydration as an effective practice in enhancing kidney function,” says nephrologist James Simon, MD. So, while it’s always a good idea to drink enough water, drinking more than the typical four to six glasses a day probably won’t help your kidneys do their job any better.
  2. Eat healthy foods. Dr. Simon points out that most kidney problems arise out of other medical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Because of this, he suggests you follow healthy eating habits to control weight and blood pressure. Preventing diabetes and high blood pressure will help keep kidneys in good condition.
  3. Exercise regularly. Like eating a well-balanced diet, regular physical activity can stave off weight gain and high blood pressure. But do be mindful of how much exercise you do, especially if you’re not conditioned. “Overexerting yourself when you’re not in good shape can lead to serious problems, especially if you are at high risk for heart disease,” Dr. Simon says. If you are at high risk for heart disease and don’t exercise but want to start, talk to your physician before beginning any new workout program.
  4. Use caution with supplements and herbal remedies. Excessive amounts of certain vitamin supplements and some herbal extracts may be harmful to your kidneys. Talk to your doctor about any vitamins and herbs you plan to take.
  5. Quit smoking (and vaping!). Smoking can damage blood vessels, which decreases the flow of blood in the kidneys. When the kidneys don’t have adequate blood flow, they can’t function at optimal levels. Smoking also increases the risk of high blood pressure as well as the risk of kidney cancer. While vaping may not expose someone to many of the toxins in tobacco smoke, the nicotine is still very addictive and hard on the body, Dr. Simon says. Plus, there are many chemicals in the vaping solutions.
  6. Don’t overdo it with over-the-counter medications. “Common non-prescription pills like ibuprofen and naproxen (NSAIDs) can cause kidney damage if taken too regularly over a prolonged period,” Dr. Simon says. If you have healthy kidneys and use these medicines for occasional pain, they probably don’t pose a risk. But he says that if you take them for chronic pain or arthritis, you should talk to your doctor about monitoring your kidney function or finding alternative ways to control your pain.
  7. If you’re at risk, get regular kidney function screening. “If you have diabetes, high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease, your physician should screen for kidney dysfunction as part of routine care for those conditions,” Dr. Simon says.

Advertisement

The big takeaway

The most important thing you can do to keep your kidneys safe is to take care of your body to reduce your chances of developing diseases that put a strain on your kidneys.

“Eat healthily, exercise regularly and control your weight,” Dr. Simon reiterates. “These healthy practices are not new and definitely not specific to kidney health. Healthy kidneys like a healthy body.”

Advertisement

Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Person spilling pills from bottle into hand with shape of kidneys overlayed in the foreground.
February 21, 2023/Urinary & Kidney Health
Your Guide to Medications for IgA Nephropathy and C3G

Expect some new prescriptions, as well as recommendations to avoid some medications

Illustration of a person wondering about various foods like salmon, blueberries or a pepper
July 13, 2022/Nutrition
What Are the Best Foods for Kidney Health?

A renal diet is designed to cut out sodium, phosphorus and potassium

variety of wine bottles on table
How Alcohol Affects Your Kidney Health

A kidney specialist breaks down this problematic relationship

Illustration with a salt shaker, kidneys and heart
December 1, 2020/Heart Health
How Salt Can Impact Your Blood Pressure, Heart and Kidneys

Modifying your salt intake can affect your health and longevity

Illustration of the heart and kidney relationship
February 12, 2020/Urinary & Kidney Health
The Close Link Between Your Heart Health and Kidney Health

What's good for one is good for the other

pills arranged into the shape of kidneys
December 29, 2019/Urinary & Kidney Health
Supplements + OTCs May Hurt Your Kidneys

Learn which drugs and supplements can damage your kidneys

woman taking blood pressure reading at home
5 Kidney Failure Symptoms to See Your Doctor About

Plus, two easy-to-spot kidney disease risk factors

Trending Topics

Person in yellow tshirt and blue jeans relaxing on green couch in living room reading texts on their phone.
Here’s How Many Calories You Naturally Burn in a Day

Your metabolism may torch 1,300 to 2,000 calories daily with no activity

woman snacking on raisins and nuts
52 Foods High In Iron

Pump up your iron intake with foods like tuna, tofu and turkey

Ad