6 Natural Ways on How to Improve Kidney Function in Elderly

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Do you know how to improve kidney function in elderly folks? With age comes wisps of graying hair and extra kidney care. Today we break it down.

Your kidneys are most known for their role as the body's filtration system. But they do more than that.

RELATED: 10 Signs Your Kidneys Are In Trouble

Why and How to Improve Kidney Function in Elderly Folks

What Are the Kidneys?

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Click here to jump to the instructographic.

Your kidneys' life-sustaining responsibilities include:

  • filtering waste from your blood (including drugs)
  • regulating blood pressure
  • regulating minerals stores of sodium, potassium, and calcium
  • promoting red blood cell production
  • maintain the proper balance of bodily fluids
  • manufacturing an active form of vitamin D

Anything your kidneys think is useless or toxic is flushed out through the urine. So you see, your kidneys aren't just your body's filtration center. They are your body's high-performing chemicals plant and regulation board.

Because of how interconnected your kidneys are with other organs and bodily functions, it's important to keep them healthy and functioning.

And here are the best ways to do them. Your doctor would want you to do them too.

Dietary and Lifestyle Changes to Improve Kidney Function in Elderly Individuals

1. A Low-Carb Diet to Improve Kidney Function

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One study found that a low carbohydrate diet (LCD) could do wonders for kidney function and may help improve diabetic patients.

For 30 months, 143 type 2 diabetes (T2D) patients followed an LCD. The results showed that the patients needed less diabetes medication and improved in:

  • serum creatinine levels
  • eGFR (a measure of kidney function)
  • urine ACR (detects high levels of protein)
  • blood pressure
  • body weight
  • lipid profiles

Naturally, as you lessen how much carbs you eat, you may end up eating more proteins and fats. But typically, doctors would recommend a low-protein diet to kidney disease patients. However, the results show that the protein intake in this LCD had no effect on the kidneys.

Note that the researchers recommend this to those with normal kidney function, type 2 diabetes, and mild diabetic kidney disease. It may be different for those with moderate or severe diabetic kidney disease.

A low-carb diet could help improve kidney function in elderly folks and younger people alike.

2. Get Active to Help Improve Kidney Function and Health

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A slim waistline can help risk factors like obesity and high blood pressure at bay.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the following exercise for older adults:

  • 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, or
  • 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or
  • a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity

Activities like dancing and water aerobics double as vigorous-intensity exercise and fun hobbies. Even doing chores like gardening could count as some form of exercise.

Participate in activities that get you off the couch and off your feet. Even better if it's something you enjoy and will encourage you to keep moving!

A healthy waistline could also mean that you're eating just as healthily, which may also help to improve kidney function in elderly folks.

3. Eat Healthily

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Make sure to include fruits, vegetables, and fiber-rich foods in every meal.

One CDC study found that those that don't eat much fruits and veggies are at a higher risk of kidney failure:

  • < 2 servings a day, 45% higher risk
  • 2 or < 3 servings a day, 40% higher risk
  • 3 < 4 serving a day, 25% higher risk
  • 4 < 6 servings a day, 14% higher risk

Eating right could also keep you from excess weight, which may lead to obesity and heart conditions.

You can enjoy meat but trim the fats. Snack on fruits for dessert in place of bakery pastries. And while we're on the topic of carbs, choose whole-grain foods. They are healthier sources of carbs that are rich in minerals and are excellent sources of dietary fiber.

Stick to foods that are low in sodium. This means choosing fresh meats over processed meats and fresh vegetables with no added salt.

RELATED: Kidney Detox | 7 Ways to Detox and Cleanse Your Kidneys Naturally

4. Hydrate, but Just Enough

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By now, everyone knows to drink eight glasses of water a day. But that extra liter might not actually make you healthier.

You may compute online or ask your doctor how much you should be drinking based on your weight and activity level.

Otherwise, drink enough that you visit the bathroom around six to eight times a day and your urine is clear or a light color.

Your body flushes toxic waste and useless substances in your body through your urine. So by staying hydrated, you may help your kidneys perform their normal function.

5. Curb Your Vices: Alcohol and Smoking

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Drinking heavily and regularly doubles your risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD). And those that smoke on top of this are five times more likely to develop CKD than those that don't practice the habit.

Alcohol disrupts how your kidney filters your blood. And alcohol, one of the substances that your kidney needs to filter out, makes your kidneys work overtime. Excessively drinking alcohol could wear your kidneys out and negatively affect kidney function.

Men are advised to stick to one or two drinks a day. And for women and the elderly, stick to one drink a day.

You may have heard the health benefits of red wine, but this is not a good enough reason to pick up the habit.

6. See Your Doctor Regularly to Evaluate Kidney Function

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The National Kidney Foundation recommends that the elderly over the age of 60 get screened to evaluate their kidney function and health.

Your kidneys age with you and may not perform as well as in your younger years. Kidney disease may be more likely among older adults, but it is not inevitable.

It's essential to catch it early and treat it as soon as possible.

Changes in Kidney Function in the Elderly

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Your kidney undergoes many changes in your older years.

These include:

  • lower kidney function
  • lesser kidney tissue
  • decreased number in nephrons (kidney filtering units)
  • vessels in your kidneys may harden

See your doctor every year and ask to have your kidney screened. Even if you feel healthy, remember that it's hard to catch kidney problems early on. And when it comes to a life-supporting organ like your kidneys, it's better to play it safe.

But if you think you might have some kidney trouble, there are signs that you may need to watch out for.

How Do I Know if I Have Poor Kidney Function?

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People over 60 are at higher risk of kidney disease. But most of us don't realize there's trouble brewing until the late stage.

Here are things that might point to low kidney function:

  • fatigue
  • shortness of breath
  • edema or swelling in the legs
  • high blood pressure
  • nausea
  • loss of appetite
  • lower sexual response
  • confusion, having difficulty remembering, or depression
  • low calcium levels
  • high phosphorus levels
  • high potassium levels

If you relate to any of these symptoms, you do not need to wait for your annual doctor's visit. Contact your physician as soon as possible for a kidney screening.

Otherwise, follow our tips to help improve kidney function especially in elderly folks. These diet and lifestyle changes could be life-changing and life-preserving.

Here’s an instructographic guide. Don’t forget to download, save, or share this handy instructographic for reference:

MG - How to Improve Kidney Function in Elderly

Check out this video for a kidney-loving diet to improve kidney function and wellness:

Kidney disease and poor kidney function could lead to many complications. But what's not complicated are things you can do to improve kidney function, especially in elderly age.

Downing a glass of water instead of a glass of wine could promote kidney health and function. Avoiding bad habits and picking up some fruits and vegetables could do wonders not only for your kidneys but your overall health.

And when you feel like trouble is brewing, remember that your doctor is one phone call away.

How do you care for your kidneys?

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Do you feel more confident now that you know how to improve kidney function? Will you be following these tips? Or do you have your own secrets to long life? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below!

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