Looking after our kidneys

Our kidneys are pretty amazing, so amazing in fact we were given two and can even live a full life with one.

Every year, World Kidney Day is a global awareness campaign aimed at raising awareness of the importance of our kidneys.

Kidneys play a vital role in maintaining our body’s health and removing waste from our body, specifically our blood. Every hour blood circulates through your kidneys 12 times and every day 200 litres of blood passes through the kidneys with around 1-2 litres leaving our body as urine.

For two small organs the size of an adult fist, they do a pretty important job!

Unfortunately, kidney health is not always at the top of our minds and around 1 in 3 Australian’s are at risk of developing kidney disease. Luckily there are a number of ways you can minimise your family’s risk of kidney disease as well as maintaining kidney health, even with young kids.

  • Maintain a healthy weight for your height. It’s all too easy to take the bus rather than walk or to sneak that extra biscuit before lunch, but to keep your kidneys in tip top shape and functioning well, make sure you maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Motivate your children to eat fresh fruit and vegetables by challenging them to make their own salad using as many different coloured fruit and vegetables as possible. 
  • Make sure you do plenty of exercise. According to the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines children should accumulate 60 mins of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. Adults 18-64 should accumulate 2 ½ - 5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 – 150 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week. That might seem a lot but it can be easy to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Some things you could try as a family; going on a family walk together once a week, cycling to school or work, challenge your kids to a penalty shootout or a skipathon!
  • Drink water. It may sounds incredibly simple but it water is really important if our kidneys are to keep working at full speed. Our kidneys need water to help us remove toxins from our blood and produce urine.
  • Don’t hold on for too long! Our kidneys work with our bladder and need that precious space to store the urine they produce. Without properly emptying the bladder regularly we can damage our kidneys.
  • Be a non-smoker. Did you know that smokers are 3 times more likely to have reduced kidney function. Help your children understand that the choices they make about smoking later in life can affect their health. Talk to your children about smoking and the harmful effects it can have to their health. You could also download our App – The Smokey Case – and help time travelling detective Mac MacHardy and his sidekick ‘Conan’ to explore facts and find hidden clues to solve the case of why smoking is unhealthy.

It is unlikely that young children will develop chronic kidney disease, but it is important for them to understand how a healthy lifestyle and healthy habits will help to protect their bodies and their amazing organs.

Small changes made as a family can greatly improve whole family health as well as setting up healthy habits for your kids to adopt now and into the future.