Heart Your Kidneys on the Road

By Sarah Moon

Kidneys are small but mighty. They filter around 50 gallons of blood every single day to remove waste products. Working hard day in and day out can cause stress on the kidneys if you aren’t taking preventative measures and living a healthy lifestyle. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a condition in which kidneys do not filter blood properly and leaves the body’s waste products to build up. This can lead to many negative health effects, but the primary concern of CKD is it leading to kidney failure, and when your kidneys stop working, so do you.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, 1 in 3 Americans are at risk for kidney disease and prevalence is on the rise. Often times, people do not even know of their condition until it is too late. Some risk factors to consider are diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, smoking, being of age 60 or older, and a family history of kidney disease. If you have one or more of the following risk factors, it may be a good idea to have a conversation with your doctor next time you’re in and talk about kidney disease, or stop by one of the free KEEP Healthy kidney screenings.

Prevention is crucial with kidney disease, but it is not always an easy road. Truckers have a more difficult and unique challenge when trying to be kidney-healthy. Between sitting in your truck for a good part of the day to the food choices on the road, it can be a whirlwind of obstacles to get through to keep your kidneys’ strong and pristinely functioning. Here are a few tips to #HeartYourKidneys and reduce your risk of developing kidney problems:

  1. Stay hydrated
    • Water is crucial to kidney function. When you stay hydrated, blood flows easier to the kidneys. Dehydration can slow that blood flow down and eventually lead to kidney damage. To ensure you’re getting enough, try this water bottle that tracks your intake and reminds you when you need fluids.
  2. Don’t smoke
    • Smoking is a risk factor for many chronic illnesses and kidney disease is no exception. The kidneys can’t filter properly because smoking decreases blood flow throughout the body.
  3. Skip the salt
    • The recommended amount of sodium for a day is one teaspoon. However, Americans consume about 50% more than that on any given day. Cutting down on salt is a difficult task because it is hidden in a number of foods. Asking your waiter/waitress to serve your meal without salt is a good start. You can also try reading food labels for a week. You may be surprised what types of foods contain salt!
  4. Don’t skip the fruits and vegetables
    • Diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure both can stem from a poor diet. The easiest swap that can be done on the road is if you are eating at a restaurant, swap fruit or vegetables in for fries or any starchy side dish.
  5. Exercise When You Get the Chance
    • Exercising regularly helps the body maintain a healthy weight and prevents many diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. It also helps regulate your blood pressure. Prolonged sitting can be linked to kidney disease, so exercising can be done to offset the negative effects. Opt for the stairs or park your truck at distance for easy ways to get in more steps!

Kidney deterioration happens over the course of many years from the added stress we put on them, but by being mindful of the risks and working to mitigate those stressors we can have happier and healthier hauls in the future!

Have questions about kidney disease? The National Kidney Foundation can help! Call toll-free at 1.855.NKF.CARES (1.855.653.2273). For more tips on keeping your kidneys healthy, visit www.kidney.org or follow them on Facebook!

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