12 Common Kidney Damaging Habits You Need to Avoid

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Your kidneys are one of the most vital organs in your body. Without your kidneys, your body wouldn’t function, in fact, it would eventually shut down due to the build-up of toxins and an overdose of nutrients in your blood. It is your kidneys which aren’t just responsible for filtering your blood, but they also maintain a balance of nutrients like minerals in your body by filtering out the excess. Your kidneys are also responsible for blood pressure regulation, eliminating excess water, and aiding in white blood cell production.

This is why keeping your kidneys healthy is of paramount importance. One of the main kidney numbers is your glomerular filtration rate that tells you how well your kidneys function, or predicting the stages of chronic kidney disease (CKD)

Read: All about a Kidney Function Test and optimal levels of kidney numbers.

To make sure your kidneys are healthy, you need to abide by a healthy lifestyle and avoid these 12 kidneys damaging habits.

1. Not Drinking Enough Water

Drinking water and remaining hydrated keeps your kidneys fit as a fiddle. Staying hydrated helps kidneys produce enough urine to remove toxins, and excess sodium from our systems. If these aren’t flushed out properly and on a regular basis, they end up becoming the prime reason for kidney stones. Excess sodium doesn’t just contribute to kidney stones, it also increases your blood pressure causing hypertension.

According to a health consensus, the recommended amount of water intake is at least 8 glasses or 2 liters of water daily to remain hydrated. But, keep in mind soda or cold drinks are not included in this estimate. It’s only water which will do the trick. If your pee is light yellow or straw in color you can be assured that you are properly hydrated.

2. Holding Your Pee

 If you must go to the bathroom, just go. Holding up urine for a long time causes kidney problems because if urine stays longer in your system, it becomes a playground for harmful bacterial growth which can multiply at an alarming rate. Moreover, your kidneys filter all your blood where metabolic waste products from your blood are excreted in your urine. Urine retention can cause metabolic abnormalities and electrolyte issues, which can lead to long term kidney failure. Such kidney-damaging habits will eventually lead to kidney infections and urinary incontinence. If you’re facing urine issues, you should see a doctor where women might be having a urinary tract infection and men could be having an enlarged prostate.

3. Consuming Too Much Salt and Sugar

Nearly 95% of sodium intake of your body is metabolized by your kidneys. Eating excessively salty foods will only make your kidneys work overtime to process it. This can lead to loss of kidney efficiency thereby causing water retention in your body which increases blood pressure.

Besides salt, excess sugar consumption also leads to high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. These triads of conditions eventually lead to kidney failure. To avoid this, ensure that you don’t exceed the recommended salt intake which below 2300 mg a day and sugar intake which is 25- 30 grams per day. What you need to remember is how packaged and processed snacks and food contain a huge amount of salt or sugar. Thus read the nutrition information of the package to understand how much salt or sugar you’re adding to your daily consumption. It would be better to avoid processed foods as much as possible. They do nothing for your health. Try adopting the DASH diet to guide your healthy eating habits.

4. Overtraining

Too much training and work out can also be harmful. Rhabdomyolysis is a medical condition which develops if you over-strain your body. In this condition the muscles get injured and the dead muscle fibers flow right into your blood stream. These kinds of kidney-damaging habits can lead to kidney failure. So, if you notice dark colored urine after an extra workout, then it’s time to take it slow and perhaps, visit a doctor.

5. Chronic Sitting

A sedentary lifestyle is bad for your kidney, but so is sitting too long. Sitting too long without any physical movement can increase the risk of Prolonged occupational sitting was significantly associated with a higher risk of chronic kidney disease, end-stage renal disease (ESRD), and kidney-specific mortality compared to mostly standers.

Read: Sitting Too Long Is Dangerous for Your Health

In 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) addressed sedentary behavior in guidelines for physical activity and indicated prolonged sitting as a risk behavior

Regular physical activities like running, jogging or even brisk walking improves blood pressure and glucose metabolism which keeps the kidneys active and healthy. If you spend 8 hours sitting at your office, then try to be more active at home. Walk around the block and hit the gym at least twice a week.

6. Eating A Lot of Meat

Consuming a lot of red meat and animal protein creates an acid in your blood called acidosis. This is a serious condition in which your kidneys cannot maintain its normal Ph balance. Slowly this problem turns into serious digestive issues and chronic kidney problems.

Don’t exceed the daily recommended intake of protein which is .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. Add more fresh vegetables, whole grains, fruits, seeds, and nuts to your diet. Rather than red meat, you can consider other sources of protein in your diet like cottage cheese, lentils, quinoa, chickpeas, tofu, eggs, and fish.

Read: Avoid These Ten Foods Bad for Kidney Stones

7. Missing Out on Sleep

A proper night’s sleep also does have a significant impact on the health of the kidneys. The regular sleep/wake cycle regulates and coordinates the kidney functions. Moreover, when we sleep and our body is at rest the kidney tissues are repaired and renewed. Lack of sleep as in insomnia or irregular sleep patterns hinders this process of repair and renewal of the kidney tissues increasing the risk of kidney damage.

8. Ignoring Common Infections

Our body makes antibodies to fight when we develop common illnesses like coughs, colds, sniffles, flu, or tonsillitis. These disease-causing molecules usually settle themselves on the filtering parts of the kidneys and cause inflammations. Choosing to ignore them can cause kidney infections. You need to treat bacterial infections as soon as possible with antibiotics, rest and sleep to allow your body to repair and fight the bacterial invasion.

9. Drinking Diet Soda

According to medical studies, there is a direct relation between drinking diet soda and kidney problems. In a study it was proven that women who drank 2 or more sodas a day witnessed a significant decline in kidney efficiency. Here artificially sweetened drinks proved to be more harmful than sugar sweetened drinks. It would be wise to watch what you drink. Soda drinking can even turn into one of your kidney-damaging habits.

10. Over-Dosage of Painkillers

Regular or over use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID)s like ibuprofen or aspirin can damage kidneys or even lead to complete kidney failure. Although moderate usage of such drugs is safe, it should always be consumed as per the prescribed dosage. Drug-addiction can be one of the most fatal kidney-damaging habits

Over-the-counter analgesics decrease the blood flow to the kidneys and worsen the situation if you already have kidney problems. So even if you are suffering from pain try to practice some self-restraint and take the medications in moderation as per a doctor’s prescription, but don’t make the mistake of self-medicating.

11. Smoking

Smoking is not good for your heart and lungs, but that’s not all. Its dangerous for your kidneys. People who smoke are at a higher risk of excess protein in their urine which is a sign of kidney damage.

12. Excessive Drinking of Alcohol

Excessive alcohol consumption or more than four drinks a day increases 2X your risk of kidney disease. Heavy drinkers and smokers are 5 times more likely to acquire chronic kidney disease than those who don’t.

Your kidneys are a lifeline to good health, the thing is they are sturdy and strong organs, but to keep them that way, you need to eat and live healthy, and avoid these kidney damaging habits for a more fulfilling and longer life.