For National Kidney Month, Take Five for your Kidneys

March 1, 2015

March is National Kidney Month and the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois is calling on all Illinois residents to take five healthy steps for their kidneys.

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. However, over time, the kidneys can become damaged with little or no physical symptoms to warn you that they are in trouble.

“One in nine American adults is affected by kidney disease, so it is an important public health issue.  The problem is that for most people there are few symptoms until nearing kidney failure, so you have to know about the risk factors for kidney disease and get screened if you have one,” said Tipu Puri, MD, PhD, National Kidney Foundation of Illinois Professional Advisory Board Chair. Of the 26 million American adults estimated to have kidney disease, most do not know they have it.

Here are a few simple actions people can take to keep their kidneys healthy and strong.

Take 5 for Your Kidneys:

  1. Get Tested! Get screened for free through the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois KidneyMobile health screening program by visiting and finding a screening location near you. 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 National Kidney Foundation of Illinois is offering free kidney health screenings through the KidneyMobile screening program. To locate a KidneyMobile health screening near you, or to learn more about the kidneys and risk factors for kidney disease, visit

About the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois
The National Kidney Foundation of Illinois improves the health and well-being of people at risk for or affected by kidney disease through prevention, education and empowerment.