March is National Kidney Month. Kidneys play an essential role in our well-being. They keep your body healthy by regulating fluid levels, activating vitamin D for healthy bones, filtering wastes from the blood, directing production of red blood cells, regulating blood pressure and keeping blood minerals in balance. Because kidney disease is more common in individuals with diabetes, Indigenous populations are encouraged to pay a little extra attention to their kidneys.
Kidney-related issues include stones, acute injuries, infections, pains, chronic disease and cancer. While these may be hard to spot, you should make an appointment with your healthcare provider if you experience any of these symptoms:
- Swelling of face, hands, abdomen, ankles and feet
- Blood in urine or foamy urine
- Difficult, painful urination
- Puffy eyes
- Increase thirst
Being proactive and educating yourself is key when aiming to prevent kidney disease. Helpful recipes and resources are available to keep a person on track to leading a healthy lifestyle. The next time you’re prepping for dinner, consider reviewing these Indigenous meal ideas and adding a few new ingredients to your shopping list. Learning to eat more like our ancestors not only celebrates our heritage but these diets largely consist of unprocessed foods that help prevent and control diabetes.
Other kidney-friendly tips can be taken to prevent kidney-related issues. Keep these in mind:
Get tested regularly if you are at risk and ask your doctor to test your kidneys, blood and urine
If you have diabetes, stay in your target blood sugar range
- Lose weight if you are overweight
- Get active
- Quit smoking
- Take medications as directed
Living a healthy lifestyle and being aware of what best suits your body is a great start in preventing kidney disease. If you are unsure what steps to take first, confide in a trusted healthcare provider as soon as possible.
Be sure to spread the information you receive with others you love.