Combining Extra Cup of Coffee and Exercise Improves Kidney Functionby Carissa Andrews - March 9th, 2020
March is National Kidney Month. While technically every month is a good one in terms of doing what we can to eat right and move more, this is a great one to focus on our overall kidney health. Most of the time, assuming our kidneys are functioning properly, they take a backseat to larger organs like the heart and lungs. However, your kidneys are just as important. Every moment of every day, they’re filtering your blood and help you to eliminate waste through urine. They also regulate your electrolytes, balance sodium and fluid levels in your body, and even help control your blood pressure. When they stop working properly, waste builds up in the bloodstream, proteins and sugar can end up in your urine, and your body starts retaining fluid because sodium is no longer being balanced.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) occurs when there is a gradual loss of kidney function, meaning, they stop working optimally. If a decline in function continues, it can mean spending the rest of your life relying on dialysis to do the work for your kidneys. And trust me, from someone who watched her grandmother spend her last few years hooked up to a dialysis machine, it’s no fun.
Risk Factors & Symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease
The cardiovascular system and kidneys are intertwined. When you take care of one, you are automatically taking care of the other. So, if you spend years ignoring your blood sugar or blood pressure, you’re most likely also doing damage to your kidneys. While it doesn’t necessarily mean you will develop chronic kidney disease (CKD) as a certainty, having heart disease does increase your risk.
The reverse is also true. Having chronic kidney disease increases your risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular health issues, according to the Mayo Clinic. A study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that CPD was associated with a whopping 95% increased risk of heart attack.
In fact, having diabetes is the leading cause of CKD. Following closely behind is high blood pressure, as the 2nd leading cause of CKD. Obviously, if you have BOTH diabetes and high blood pressure, you are most at risk, especially if you are aged 40+. Other risk factors include smoking, having a sedentary lifestyle, high cholesterol, and obesity.
The scary thing is, CKD’s symptoms don’t always present themselves as obviously as they could. Sometimes, they start with a little nausea in the morning that dissipates as soon as your vomit. Other times, it could be a decrease in mental sharpness, loss of appetite, overall fatigue and weakness, insomnia, and muscle twitching or cramps. In some cases, you can produce more or less urine or swell up in your feet and ankles. All of these can be associated with other health issues or even stress. So, it’s important to talk to your doctor if anything unusual, no matter how mild, begins to happen.
New Research on Reducing Your Risk of Chronic Kidney Disease
There are a number of ways you can help to reduce your risk of developing chronic kidney disease. You can quit smoking, increase your water intake, limit your alcohol consumption, control your blood sugar, and eat more fruits and veggies. A plant-based diet full of whole foods is especially important. Check out these 15 detox recipes for kidney health to get started. Then, keep reading for two additional ways to lower your risk.
Coffee’s Effects on Kidney Disease
Tea might have caused a ruckus during the Revolutionary War, but coffee has revolutionized how we consume caffeine. As it turns out, there are a few studies that have come out in the past few years that link coffee consumption with a reduced risk of developing CKD, at least for women. In fact, a 2008 study out of Korea found that with men the effects of caffeine from coffee consumption were pretty neutral, but for women, there was a reduced risk.
Another study from Portugal found that even after taking into account age, diet, other diseases, etc. there was still a reduction in death for patients who drank coffee when dealing with kidney disease. In fact, the more the better. In this study, those who drank as much as 1378mg per day (multiple cups of coffee), had a 24% lower risk of death than those who didn’t consume any caffeine at all.
While additional studies are finding the same effects, there is still speculation as to why coffee seems to have a protective effect on women’s kidneys. Some speculate it’s the antioxidants found in coffee, while others believe there is an antidiabetic effect that occurs when drinking it. According to a WebMd post, one doctor thinks it could be because of the nitric oxide’s role on healthy blood vessel function.
Keep in mind that while a higher dose of coffee might reduce your risk for CKD, caffeine consumption can trigger unwanted side-effects if you also suffer from GERD. Be sure to check out our previous article so you know how to stay in a safe level of caffeine to manage your GERD.
Exercise and Kidney Disease
If you’re not a coffee drinker, have no fear. There are other ways to reduce your CKD risk. In fact, as it turns out getting more exercise is linked to a 9% reduced risk of developing kidney disease. A study from Taiwan followed nearly 200K adults who did not have kidney disease at the start of the study and followed them for 18 years. Over that time period, 5.6% developed CKD. After adjusting for other risk factors, researchers found that even those who had a low level of exercise had a 7% reduced risk.
For those in the study who were most physical, they walked an hour or more daily or ran at least two hours weekly. Those in the least physically active (but not sedentary) group walked 15 minutes or less daily.
If you’re looking to add in more movement into your daily routine, starting simple with a walk can be just the ticket. Not only can you lose weight, increase flexibility and muscle tone, but you also improve your cardiovascular system—and reduce risks to heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Better yet, add in a combo of movement and weight training, and you’re setting yourself up for long-term health gains.
If you’ve been recently diagnosed with chronic kidney disease or are concerned that you might be at risk for developing it down the road, increasing your physical activity and adding a daily cup of coffee might be a great first step. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, be sure to have your doctor monitor your kidney function as well. Remember, what’s good for your heart is good for your kidneys. If you find you need an affordable heart, diabetes, or blood pressure medication, Canadian Pharmacy King has you covered. In the meantime, take care with your body. It’s the only one you have.