Kidneys: Lean, Mean, Blood-Cleaning Machines

March 06, 2018

Did you know? A woman is more likely to donate a kidney than receive one.

On March 8, we celebrate women and their contributions to the world through International Women’s Day. This day is also an opportunity to reflect on key health issues that affect women globally.

According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects approximately 195 million women worldwide and is currently the eighth leading cause of death in women, with 600,000 deaths each year. This year, World Kidney Day will also be celebrated on March 8, with the aim of increasing awareness and education about kidney disease in women and girls around the world.

Your kidneys may only be the size of your fists, but they are a lean, mean, blood-cleaning machine. In addition to removing toxins and excess water from our blood, the kidneys also control blood pressure, produce red blood cells, keep our bones healthy, control the body’s chemical balance and make urine.

Though early CKD often has no signs or symptoms, you can lose up to 90 percent of kidney function without even knowing. While it cannot be reversed, CKD can be slowed and even stopped with proper diet and medication.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you can help prevent CKD by:

  • Staying active
     
  • Staying within your target blood sugar and cholesterol ranges
     
  • Eating more fruits and vegetables
     
  • Monitoring and controlling your blood pressure; consult with your provider about medications and other ways to lower your blood pressure if it’s high

Don’t hesitate to talk to your PCP about your individual risk factors, and whether or not you should be screened. You and your health are important.

Source: Chronic Kidney Disease, Gender, and Access to Care: A Global Perspective: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28532558

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Get Fit by Working Out on a Budget

September 01, 2017

Being a mom can be incredibly rewarding, but it’s not always the easiest job. Sometimes you are so focused on running to your child’s next soccer game or trying to ensure everyone is eating a healthy dinner that you forget to take care of yourself.

With gym memberships being expensive, there are ways you can repurpose every day household items into weights and benches, and transform your home into a gym for a fraction of the cost. Here are four household items you can use in place of expensive exercise equipment:

  • Milk Jugs: One gallon-sized jug of milk weighs about 8.5 pounds, which is a good amount of weight to use when working out your arms. Try doing two or three reps of 10 bicep curls with each hand.
     
  • Chairs: You can get a great workout with chairs. To tone your arms, try tricep dips by standing in front of a chair with your back to it. Slowly lower yourself in a downward motion until your legs are at a 90 degree angle, and place arms behind you, gripping the edge of the chair’s seat with your hands. With controlled movements, raise your lower body to form a 90 degree angle with your arms. Try to do three sets of 10 to 15 reps.
     
  • Broom: Want to slim down your waist line? Try waist twists, which can be good for slimming down your waist. While seated, hold the broom behind your shoulders and twist to the right and back to the center. Do this again, but this time twist to the left. Make sure you are using slow and controlled movements to ensure you do not pull any muscles.
     
  • Towels: Don’t throw the towel in during your workout. Instead, use the towel to strengthen your shoulders. Stand up and straighten your arms over your head, while holding an end of the towel in each hand about 18 inches apart. Keeping your hands over your head, pull with each hand as hard as you can, creating resistance. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat. Try to go longer if you can!

With these exercises, you can save time and money, all while getting a great workout in the luxury of your own home. As a reminder, always stretch before and after your workout to prevent any muscle or joint strains and remember, just have FUN!

Get to the Heart of Heart Disease

February 01, 2017

We can fill, warm, break, change and give our hearts, but perhaps the most important role of a heart to have is to be a healthy and it’s up to us to make sure it is. Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States, with one in four deaths caused by heart disease. February is dedicated celebrating not only the metaphorical purpose of a heart, but also its physical purpose. 

In honor of American Heart Month, AltaMed wants to make sure you’re aware that heart disease, which includes cardiac arrest and stroke, can be easily prevented. To make sure your heart is in the right place, you can start by making some healthy lifestyle choices, and by talking to your PCP about how to manage conditions that could put you at risk.

Here are a few quick and easy changes you can begin today! 

 

Don’t Pass the Salt

  • Choose fresh (e.g., fruits and veggies) over processed (e.g., frozen and canned) foods.
  • Pay attention to nutrition labels and opt for items with a daily sodium value of 5 percent or less.
  • Use spices like garlic or onion powder, chili or herbs instead of salt, to add flavor.

 

Get Moving

  • Make physical activity a part of your daily life; obesity is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
  • Start with 15 minutes of brisk walking at least 3 to 4 days a week.
  • Work up to at least 2 ½ hours of exercise a week.

 

Know Your Numbers

  • Maintain a healthy weight—losing just 10 pounds, if you are overweight, can lower your risk of heart disease.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation: at most, one drink a day for women, two for men.
  • Keep an eye on your cholesterol and blood pressure, and talk to your PCP about how to lower both.

 

Alter Your Patterns

  • Switch to non- or low-fat dairy products.
  • Opt for fish, chicken without skin, and lean cuts of beef or pork.
  • Quit smoking. It’s the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the U.S. 

 

It will take commitment and dedication to follow through on these changes, but the benefits far outweigh any costs. Get your family involved to help you stay motivated, and watch as everyone’s health improves. Also, be sure to wear red not just on Valentine’s Day, but also on February 3, as part of National Wear Red Day, which aims to raise awareness in women about the importance of heart health.