The kidneys perform a lot of important functions for the body’s health. They filter your blood, release hormones that give nutrients, absorb the minerals from the food and supplements you take, and produce the liquid that removes toxins from your body.
The decline or damage to your kidneys might not manifest right away. In fact, according to the Cleveland Clinic, your kidneys can still function at 30 percent capacity. However, kidney damage can have serious consequences on your health. Here are some habits you need to watch out for or stop doing completely to prevent damaging your kidneys further.
10 Habits That Damage Your Kidneys That Most People Ignore
“Caffeine dehydrates the body and speeds up the aging of the skin and kidneys.” – Ann Louise Gittleman
1. You are not drinking water enough
Keeping your body hydrated is important to the functions of your organs, especially the kidneys.
- Water helps flush the toxins from your body, thus making it easier for the kidneys to clean your system.
- You lessen your risks of developing UTI and kidney stones when you drink water regularly.
- There is no magic number to how many glasses of water you should drink in a day. According to the National Kidney Foundation, men need at least three liters or about 13 cups of water daily. Women, on the other hand, need 2.2 liters or about nine cups every day.
- However, it isn’t good to drink too much water. Athletes, for instance, may be in danger of overdiluting the sodium in their blood and develop a health problem called hyponatremia.
If you’ve been diagnosed with kidney problems, you might need to regulate your water intake as well.
2. You’re not following medical prescriptions to the letter
You should always follow the exact prescription of medicines you need to take. Sticking to what the doctors have prescribed is necessary so that you won’t risk damaging your kidneys.
There are lots of medications that have kidney damage as a side effect. So, if the doctor specifically gave you a fixed duration, stick to it. Never attempt to make changes without consulting a doctor.
Even over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, are harmful to the kidneys if taken every day. Don’t assume that because it’s easy to purchase at the drugstore, it’s less potent or dangerous for your health.
3. You like to eat foods that are high in sodium
If you like foods with high sodium content, a change in your diet might be in order. If your kidney can’t properly flush this ingredient from your body, you could develop high blood pressure along with the swelling of the hands, feet, and ankles.
Before refrigerators were invented, people learned to add salt to food to preserve its freshness. Today, however, cooks use salt to make the food flavorful since people have become so used to its taste.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value for sodium intake is 2,300 milligrams. But it’s easy to exceed this recommendation because a lot of the foods you eat contain sodium, whether its home cooked, from the restaurant, packed, canned or processed.
The American Heart Association learned in a study that at least one-third of adults think their sodium intake is less than 2,000 mg a day. The agency recommends eating more fruits or vegetables and limiting sugary beverages, as these have high amounts of sodium as well.
4. You’re not aware of your blood pressure
If you’ve never monitored your blood pressure before, it’s time to adopt the habit now. A study in the BMJ Journals linked kidney damage to hypertension. This is because the kidney uses your blood and blood vessels from the cardiovascular system to filter the toxins and distribute the nutrients.
A high blood pressure is usually an indication that something could be wrong with your cardiovascular system. The more the arteries become narrow, blocked or hardened by cholesterol and other toxins, the higher the risks are to kidney damage. When your organs can’t function well, your kidney tissues won’t get the nourishment needed.
If you have a history of hypertension in the family, make it a priority to monitor blood pressure. This way, you don’t just prevent kidney damage but also limit your risks of stroke or a heart attack and enjoy a more positive lifestyle.
5. You hold your need to pee
Typically, a bladder can hold up to two cups of liquid for three to four hours. But some people might have a harder time peeing in a public bathroom, so they hold it in for more hours.
- When you ignore nature’s call and delay going to the bathroom to relieve yourself, you’re not allowing your body to flush the toxins. If you make this into a habit, it could have unhealthy effects.
- You could expose yourself to urinary tract infection (UTI) that will make peeing uncomfortable and even painful. If this occurs, you might find blood in your urine or the liquid could be cloudy with an unusual odor or color.
- You could also damage your pelvic floor muscles that may result in urinary incontinence. Another risk is that of developing kidney stones that might require surgery in some cases.
If you find that your bladder feels full all the time even if you’ve already peed, it might be time to have a check-up to rule out any underlying condition. If you’re working out, also include pelvic floor exercises in your routines so that you can withstand delaying your bathroom breaks without any consequences to your health.
6. You love your desserts and sweets
Are you a sweet tooth who just must have desserts all the time? Consuming excessive amounts of sugar can not only lead to the development of type 2 diabetes but you could also be in danger of kidney damage.
Sugar can spill over your urine if you have an excess of it due to diabetes. If you’re unable to control this condition, diabetes can eventually damage the blood vessels that the kidney uses to filter and transport nutrients. Hence, it becomes less effective at cleaning your body system.
Taking artificial sweeteners won’t help with issue. According to a study in the Asian Pacific Society of Nephrology, those who use artificial sweeteners in excess raise their risk for kidney decline by two-folds. It should not be stressed enough that when it comes to food intake, everything should be in moderation – even for ingredients that are supposed to be the healthier option.
7. You drink and smoke
You’ll make it harder for your kidneys to filter harmful substances when you ingest toxic chemicals and ingredients from drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes. Many people enjoy these vices without realizing its grave impact on the body.
You might enjoy the occasional drink without a risk. However, it’s not healthy for your kidneys if you are a heavy drinker, binge drinker, or chronic drinker, according to a study published in the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
- Alcohol causes dehydration that challenges your kidney’s ability to balance your bodily fluids.
- Alcohol also raises your blood pressure, thus putting your kidneys to work even more than it’s supposed to do.
- Beer or wine also disrupts the hormones that control kidney function.
Meanwhile, experts are only slowly learning to understand the effects of smoking on the kidneys. This vice is generally known to raise the risks of lung cancer, lung diseases, heart diseases, and pancreatic cancer. Lesser known is that smoking impacts the kidneys because it can trigger high blood pressure. Smoking also blocks the proper flow of nutrients in the organs, thus impairing how the kidney works.
8. You eat a lot of red meat
If you enjoy having red meat in your diet regularly, you also make your kidneys susceptible to damage. Animal meat or animal protein sources have toxins like ammonia and nitrogen. If you enjoy these often in your diet, you’ll send your kidneys into overdrive as they try to filter the toxins. Overworking your kidneys can lead to kidney damage.
Doctors suggest switching your diet to plant-based protein sources as red meat can be quite unhealthy and has been known to cause cancer. If this is not possible, choose other alternatives to rich protein, such as fish, shellfish, and, in some instances, poultry.
It’s important to note that while pork turns white when cooked, it is still considered red meat. People who consume too much red meat have a 40 percent increased risk of having kidney disease compared to those who occasionally indulge in this food.
9. You don’t exercise and sit for long hours
Not exercising and sitting for long hours has been linked to a lot of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart attack, and cancer. But experts now say that you are 30 percent likely to have kidney disease if you stay seated for more than eight hours and never do exercises.
In fact, one in 10 adults in the U.S. develop kidney problems because of a lack of exercise. When you exercise, you help your body’s circulation and improve your blood pressure level. Additionally, you keep yourself fit and maintain an ideal weight.
Exercise also keeps your cardiovascular muscles in good working order and this will benefit your kidney functions.
10. You’re not sleeping well
Sleep allows your body to renew. For organs constantly working, your kidneys need sleep to be able to heal as well. If you are sleep deprived, your body can’t recover well from stress and fatigue.