March 6th, 2024, 3:00 PM

March is National Kidney Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about the vital role that kidney care plays in maintaining our overall health and well-being. Often overshadowed by other organs, the kidneys are quietly performing crucial functions that regulate blood pressure, filter waste, and ensure our body's fluid balance.

In this blog, we'll explore how kidneys work behind the scenes to keep you healthy. Find out how to protect them through diet or lifestyle changes — and how you can get involved to show your support for those affected by kidney diseases.

The Role and Function of Kidneys

Your kidneys are remarkable organs that play a vital role in keeping you healthy. Each day, they filter anywhere from 120 to 150 quarts of blood. This is essential for removing waste, controlling your body's fluid balance, and keeping electrolytes in check. 

The organs meticulously sift through gallons of blood, extracting excess salts, urea, and other impurities, which are expelled from your body as urine. This process is crucial for detoxifying your body and preventing waste buildup.

But the kidneys' role doesn't stop at filtration. They are also central to the production of erythropoietin, a hormone that stimulates the production of red blood cells. Without this vital function, our bodies would struggle to transport oxygen efficiently, leading to fatigue and other serious health issues.

Moreover, kidneys contribute to regulating blood pressure by adjusting the blood volume in the body, plus the amount of sodium and water excreted. Such balance prevents hypertension, a condition that can lead to heart disease and stroke if left unchecked.

National Kidney Month Facts

Despite their critical role in our well-being, kidney issues often go unnoticed until they reach more severe stages. Here's what you need to know:

  • 1 in 3 American adults is at risk for kidney disease. That's a significant portion of the population that could be facing serious health challenges without even knowing it. Factors such as age, family history, race, and obesity can increase the risk of developing kidney disease, making it a concern that spans across demographics.
  • High blood pressure and diabetes are the most common causes of kidney disease. These two conditions are notorious for their detrimental effects on kidney function. High blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys, reducing their ability to work properly. Diabetes, on the other hand, can affect the filtering system of the kidneys, leading to a dangerous condition known as diabetic nephropathy. Both conditions require careful management to prevent the onset or progression of kidney disease.
  • Early kidney disease has no signs or symptoms, so regular check-ups are vital. One of the most challenging aspects of kidney disease is its silent progression. In its early stages, kidney disease often doesn't present any noticeable symptoms, making it easy to overlook. This is why regular check-ups (including blood and urine tests) are essential, especially for those with risk factors. Early detection can lead to better management and slow down the progression of the disease.

Awareness is key in the fight against kidney disease. During National Kidney Month, we emphasize the importance of understanding these risks for better kidney health. By keeping informed and getting regular health screenings, you can take proactive steps to protect your kidneys, ensuring they continue to function effectively.

How to Support Kidney Health 

national kidney month arnot health cartoon doctor at laptop with kidney diagram in background

Maintaining kidney health is a multifaceted approach that involves diet, lifestyle choices, and regular monitoring of existing health conditions. By making a few changes, you can significantly reduce the risk of developing kidney disease and support your kidneys in their vital functions. 


Maintaining kidney health is a delicate balance, and diet plays a pivotal role here. What you eat and drink can significantly impact the health of your kidneys. 

When it comes to kidney health, staying adequately hydrated is very important. Your kidneys depend on sufficient water to help flush out toxins and waste from your blood. Aim for 6-8 glasses of water per day, as a general rule of thumb. However, it's important to note that individual hydration needs can vary based on factors such as body size, activity level, and climate. Be sure to adjust your water intake accordingly, but be cautious not to overhydrate — this can also put unnecessary strain on your kidneys.

Sodium is a mineral that's essential for body function, yet too much of it can be harmful to kidneys. Excessive salt intake will raise blood pressure, which in turn puts extra strain on the delicate blood vessels leading to the kidneys. To help keep your blood pressure in check, reduce your salt intake by avoiding high-sodium processed foods, seasoning your meals with herbs and spices instead of salt, and being mindful of the salt content in restaurant dishes.

Focus on incorporating whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins into your meals. Whole grains (like brown rice, barley, and quinoa) are packed with nutrients and fiber, which can help control blood sugar levels and support kidney health. Fresh fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, plus other compounds that can help reduce inflammation. When it comes to protein, opt for lean sources such as chicken, fish, beans, and lentils, which are easier on the kidneys than red meats.


While certain vitamins and minerals can support kidney health, it's crucial to approach supplementation with a bit of caution. Before you start on any pills or powders, it's essential to consult a healthcare provider. Your provider can advise you on which supplements may be beneficial, the appropriate dosages, and any potential interactions with your existing treatments.

Vitamin D and calcium are two nutrients that play a significant role in maintaining healthy bones. For those with kidney concerns, these supplements can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, vitamin D is necessary for the kidneys to help the body absorb calcium and support bone health. On the other hand, an imbalance in calcium levels can lead to kidney stones or other kidney issues.

Your body's ability to process these nutrients is affected by kidney function, so it's important to have your levels checked regularly. Based on these results, your provider can recommend whether you need to adjust your intake through diet, sunlight exposure (for vitamin D), or supplements.


One of the most significant benefits of regular exercise is its ability to help control blood pressure. High blood pressure is a common risk factor for kidney disease, as it can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys over time. By incorporating physical activity into your routine, you can naturally lower your blood pressure and reduce the strain on your kidneys to protect their function.

Maintaining a healthy weight is another key aspect of kidney health. Excess weight can lead to conditions like diabetes or hypertension, and both are main contributors to kidney damage. Exercise helps you manage your weight by burning calories and building muscle, which boosts your metabolism. 

Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five times a week. This level of activity is enough to promote good blood flow, reduce blood pressure, and help with weight management. 

Moderate-intensity exercise can include a variety of activities that raise your heart rate. For example, you may consider cycling, swimming, dancing, or even gardening. The key is to find an activity you enjoy, which will make it easier to stick to a regular exercise routine.


Beyond diet and exercise, other lifestyle choices have a significant impact on kidney health.

Smoking is a known risk factor for many health issues, including kidney disease. It can impair blood flow to the kidneys, interfere with the function of medications that treat high blood pressure, and exacerbate kidney problems.

Alcohol can additionally be harmful to your kidneys in excessive amounts. It dehydrates the body, which can affect the kidneys' ability to regulate fluid and electrolyte balance. Heavy drinking causes a spike in blood pressure, another risk factor for kidney damage. To reduce the risk of kidney damage, it's wise to limit alcohol consumption. 

Join Us in Celebrating National Kidney Month

National Kidney Month is not just a period of awareness; it's a call to action for each of us to take steps toward better kidney health. Here's how you can get involved and make a real difference!

Participate in Kidney Health Screenings

Kidney health screenings typically include a simple urine test (which can detect the presence of protein) and a blood test to check your glomerular filtration rate (GFR), which tells you how well your kidneys are filtering. Take advantage of these opportunities to get your kidneys checked — it could be a crucial step in catching any potential issues early on.

Attend a Kidney Health Workshop

Education is power, and attending a kidney health workshop can empower you with the knowledge you need to take care of your kidneys. These workshops cover a range of topics, including how to manage risk factors for kidney disease, the importance of diet and exercise, and understanding the functions of your kidneys. They can also provide a platform for you to ask questions and learn from experts in the field. Look for workshops hosted by local health clinics or organizations like the National Kidney Foundation.

Join a Community Kidney Walk

One of the most uplifting ways to get involved during National Kidney Month is to participate in a community kidney walk. These events bring together individuals affected by kidney disease, their families, healthcare professionals, and supporters to raise awareness for kidney health. Walking is a kidney-friendly exercise, and joining this event is a great way to show your support!

Be Kind to Your Kidneys with Arnot Health

At Arnot Health, we're dedicated to providing exceptional healthcare for all. Our expert nephrologists are here to help you on your journey to better kidney health, with screenings, treatment, and tailored support. Find a provider near you today! 


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