Our kidneys are among the most important organs in our body. Kidneys are responsible for detoxifying the blood. These two bean-shaped organs filter out waste material through urine.
Moreover, the kidneys eliminate excess water from the body and retain it when needed. They also regulate the levels of phosphate, calcium, and other minerals in the body.
Kidneys also help in the regulation of blood pressure. They do this by producing important hormones needed for this function, as well as in the production of red blood cells which carry important nutrients and oxygen throughout the body.
It is, therefore, important that we maintain our kidneys in good shape. In order to help you maintain the good health of your kidneys, we’ve compiled a list of the most common habits that are dangerous to your kidneys.
Here are 10 of the most common bad kidney habits:
1. Holding your urge to urinate for too long.
If you are fond of not emptying your bladder on time, you will most likely suffer after some time. When you hold your urine when you feel like urinating, the urine will remain in the bladder for a longer period (oh, you don’t say). This allows exponential growth of bacteria breeding in the urine. These dangerous bacteria can lead to kidney or urinary tract infection (UTI). Retaining the urine can cause urinary incontinence and renal failure as it increases the pressure on the kidneys.
RECOMMENDATION: Urinate when you feel like urinating. Don’t make it a habit to hold your urge to urinate, especially over prolonged periods of time.
2. Low water intake or constant quasi-dehydration.
Did you know that when you feel thirsty, it means that you are technically already dehydrated? Yes. Don’t make it a habit to drink only when you feel thirsty. Your kidneys can be severely damaged if you don’t drink enough water.
What happens when you don’t drink enough liquid? For starters, when your body lacks water, your blood becomes concentrated. A more concentrated blood finds difficulty flowing through veins and arteries. This also impedes the ability of kidneys to flush out the toxins from your body, and the more toxins in the body, of course, the worse it gets.
RECOMMENDATION: Consumes at least 10 to 12 glasses of water a day. If you are living in a hotter region, going beyond 12 glasses is okay. Remember, however, that consuming TOO MUCH liquid is also detrimental to your kidney’s health.
3. Loving salt too much.
If you like salty food and your indulge yourself in too much salt on a regular basis, you better cut your intake of salt ASAP. Too much salt intake can lead to serious kidney damage and other health issues.
Remember that over ninety percent of the sodium (salt) we consume are processed by our kidneys. If you consume too much salt, your kidneys will have to work much harder in order to excrete the excess salt.
This can result in reduced function of your kidneys, leading to retention of water in your body. Water retention can increase the blood pressure as well as the risk of kidney disease.
According to scientific studies, the intake of salt raises the quantity of urinary protein, which is another risk factor for developing kidney disease. Every amount higher than 5 grams a day is harmful for both, kidneys and your general health. One teaspoon of salt is approximately six grams.
RECOMMENDATION: Cut your salt intake. While our bodies need sodium, it surely does not need too much of it. Eat salty foods in moderation and be sure to hydrate yourself properly.
4. Regular use of painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication like analgesic.
Analgesics are easy to acquire. They are over-the-counter drugs. These are painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications use to mend pain, lower inflammation, and fever. Unfortunately, due to the ease of access to these medicine, people tend to take analgesics even for the slightest of pains.
This habit can cause damage on kidneys, and on other organs as well. According to a research, over-the-counter analgesics can decrease the blood flow to the kidneys and worsen their functioning.
Long-term or heavy use of analgesics causes acute kidney injury or interstitial nephritis which is a chronic kidney disease.
For individuals with reduced kidney function, consult their doctor before taking any painkiller. Analgesics should be taken for the shortest time and at the lowest dose possible, even for those with normal kidney function.
RECOMMENDATION: Practice responsible drug use. You are not supposed to take over-the-counter drugs for pain or fever immediately after feeling pained or when feverish especially when it is not that bad. For example, if you suspect you have a flu, try natural remedies to help subside your fever and wait for two days to three days before taking analgesic.
In any case, consult your doctor before taking any medication.
5. Eating too much protein.
Attention gym buffs. Eating too much protein-based foods like red meat can actually raise your risk of kidney diseases.
Remember that kidneys have an important role in metabolizing and eliminating nitrogenous wastes from the body. Nitrogenous wastes are usually by-products of protein digestion.
High intake of protein chronically raises the glomerular pressure and hyperfiltration, thus increasing the metabolic load of kidneys, which increases the risk of developing kidney issues.
RECOMMENDATION: Limit the amount of red meat consumption. If you have an existing kidney disease, stop consuming red meat. It will aggravate your situation. \
6. Too much alcohol consumption.
It’s common knowledge that alcohol is bad for the kidneys and the liver, too. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can lead to severe kidney and liver damage. That is why drinking in moderation is highly recommended.
What happens when you drink too much alcohol anyways? Well, if you drink excessive amounts of alcohol, the uric acid will be stored in the renal tubules (a set of tubes in the kidney), causing tubular obstruction which raises the risk of developing kidney failure. Furthermore, alcohol leads to dehydration and impedes the normal kidney functioning.
RECOMMENDATION: The healthy amounts of alcohol consumed on a daily basis are 1 drink for women and older people, and 2 drinks for men. Moreover, drink lots of water when drinking alcohol or caffeine. Both are anti-diuretic and causes dehydration as both prevents water reabsorption in the Loop of Henle in the kidney (that’s where water is reabsorbed and urine is ultimately produced).
Smoking is not only bad for your lungs, it is also severely bad for your kidneys as well. No, in fact, it is bad for almost every organ in our body, as stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The relation of smoking and kidney disease has been shown by many studies. As the American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP) explains, smoking is the number one cause for ESRD (end stage renal disease).
Smoking increases the heart rate and blood pressure, as well as decreases the blood flow and narrows the blood vessels in kidneys. This unhealthy habit can aggravate existing kidney disease, and can speed up the loss of kidney functions. The best way to prevent this is to stop smoking, as this habit is harmful for every part of your body.
RECOMMENDATION: Try your best to quite smoking. I know it’s not easy, but you will benefit a lot from not smoking.
8. Drinking too much coffee (or caffeine, in general).
If you consume too much caffeine, your blood pressure will be increased, which will burden the function of kidneys. Over longer periods, this can cause kidney damage. Kidney International has published a 2002 study according to which the consumption of caffeine is strongly related to kidney stones. Caffeine can raise the excretion of calcium in urine.
Nevertheless, most people won’t have any problem if they consume caffeine in moderate amounts. So consuming 3 cups of tea, 1 to 2 cups of coffee a day is perfectly fine. But you shouldn’t forget the other sources of caffeine like energy drinks, cocoa, soft drinks, chocolate, and some medications, so make sure you limit their amount too.
9. Ignoring common infections and failing to get enough rest.
Ignoring of coughs, colds, flu, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, and other common infections, can cause serious kidney damage. Those with kidney disease have often reported to had no rest when they have been sick, and these are often weather sensitive people who often get ill.
If you don’t treat your common infection, the viruses or bacteria can cause kidney damage. Therefore, whenever you get a common infection, treat it properly and on time. Rest your body and take your antibiotics properly.
10. Sleep deprivation.
A lot of people ignore the importance of proper sleep because of their busy lifestyle. A 6 to 8 hour sleep is crucial for a person’s overall health. The organ tissues renew while you are sleeping, so if you don’t get enough sleep you will interrupt this process, which will lead to damage of many organs, including the kidneys.
According to many studies, improper sleep can cause increased clogging of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and high blood pressure, which raises the risk of kidney damage. Always try to keep a good balance between work and rest, and to adopt healthy sleeping habits. In this way, you will protect your kidneys, and your overall health.
The National Kidney Foundation. (2016). 10 Common Habits That May Harm Your Kidneys. [online] Available at: https://www.kidney.org/content/10-common-habits-that-may-harm-your-kidneys [Accessed 11 Apr. 2017].
Sott.net. (2017). Common habits that damage the kidneys — Sott.net. [online] Available at: https://www.sott.net/article/301689-Common-habits-that-damage-the-kidneys [Accessed 11 Apr. 2017].
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