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Are Your Kidneys Up to the Job?

March is National Kidney Month and the perfect time to bring awareness to kidney disease. What exactly do your kidneys do? For starters, they filter waste from roughly 200 liters of blood a day. They also help regulate blood pressure and control red blood cell production. Certain health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes can put you at risk for kidney disease. A family history of kidney problems also increases your risk. There are often few, if any, symptoms of kidney disease until it has reached the advanced stages. According to WebMD, a person could lose up to 90% of kidney function without even knowing they had a problem!

Want to know if you are at high risk for kidney disease? Take this online quiz to find out. In addition, the National Kidney Foundation is offering free screenings throughout the month of March for those in the high risk category. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure or a family history of the disease, visit their website for more information on the free screenings.

So what can you do to keep your kidneys healthy? Overhauling your diet is the first step. Those concerned about kidney disease or already diagnosed with the disease should work closely with their physician or a dietician to develop a healthy meal plan that is customized to their stage of the disease and that takes other chronic health conditions into account, such as diabetes. In general, foods high in phosphorous (dairy products, nuts, beans and bran foods) and those high in sodium (fast food, processed or frozen foods, canned soups, seasonings) need to be consumed in moderation depending on your condition. Potassium levels often need to be monitored as well. Anyone with kidney disease should consult a physician to make sure they are properly caring for themselves and their particular condition.

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