World Kidney Day: Are You Putting Your Kidneys At Risk?

Our kidneys are one of the most important organs in the body as they act as the body’s detox system. They not only filter out toxins but also help to regulate blood pressure. Kidney damage can often be irreversible and symptoms include persistent nausea, chest pains, seizures, and excessive fatigue.  

In commemoration of World Kidney Day, we provide you with daily habits that, unbeknownst to you, could be harming your kidneys.  

Kidney disease risk factors

Excessive alcohol intake

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a glass of red wine after a long day. Not only is it relaxing but it’s full of health benefits. However, if your one glass a week turns into 3 glasses a day- you’re putting strenuous pressure on your best filters (1).

Kidneys are your body filters and alcohol is one of the many toxins that they remove from your system. However, binge drinking can actually increase the risk of developing chronic kidney disease. Furthermore, as alcohol is a known diuretic, dehydration can affect kidney function. Lastly, excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to liver disease and this can also affect kidney function.

Excessive salt in a diet

Salt is composed of sodium that helps the body maintain fluid balance and regulate blood pressure. However, too much sodium in the body increases blood pressure levels which can lead to kidney failure. The kidneys have to work twice as hard to remove the salt and this extra effort can cause problems in the long run.

salt

It’s recommended that you eat at least 2.3 grams of salt on a daily basis (2). Also, instead of picking up the salt shaker, rather flavor your foods with herbs and spices.

Ignoring the bathroom

Postponing your trip to the bathroom because too busy- or you have a fear of public bathrooms- could be the worst decision you’re making that day.

A consistently full bladder means that your body and kidneys are retaining all the toxins that are meant to be removed. The increased pressure of urine in the kidneys can lead to kidney problems such as kidney stones and other diseases.

So when nature goes, do yourself a favor and always answer.

Lack of sleep

Sleep is the most important part of your routine as it’s the time that the body heals and recharges itself.

Kidney functions are regulated during sleep, as this is when the kidney tissues are renewed. This lack of sleep can disrupt this process, leading to a range of issues such as a rise in blood pressure, which is never good for your kidneys.

See how you can set up your bedroom for a good night’s rest here.

Not drinking enough water

Kidney function depends heavily on the body staying hydrated as it allows for the kidney to filter out toxins.

The National Health Service in the UK once cited dehydration as a cause for kidney damage and kidney stones. If your body is not getting enough water, the kidneys cannot properly function and that is when the toxins and waste begin to accumulate in the blood.

It is recommended that you drink at least 2 liters of water a day. You can try adding fruits to your water if you find it difficult to drink that much.

Overuse of medication

When it comes to dealing with pain, a lot of us prefer quick and easy fixes such as over the counter drugs and painkillers. Although such pills may alleviate pain, pharmaceutical drugs generally have side effects and it appears that kidney damage could be one of them.

When taking medication, it is imperative that you follow the recommended dose and that you only take the medication for the prescribed time

Although medication is taken out of necessity, there are other more natural ways to deal with pain such as yoga.

Processed foods and drinks

Processed foods filled with a heavy combination of sugar, salt and phosphorus can lead to health issues such as diabetes and obesity, which are both heavy risk factors for kidney failure.

A study published in the journal Advances in Chronic Kidney Disease revealed that those who indulge in two or more soda drinks a day can lead to having protein in your urine, which is a warning sign about kidney function.

Aside from the obvious sweet treats, sugar can be hidden in foods that appear healthy as sugar goes by a lot of different names.  Thus it’s best to always pay close attention to the ingredients list to ensure that your foods don’t have added sugars.

Smoking

It’s well publicized that smoking is one of the worst habits an individual can have due to the heavy ramifications it can have on ones’ heart and lungs. It appears that smoking can also heavily damage your kidneys. The Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology even stated that different studies over the past decade have all linked smoking to decreased kidney function.

Studies have shown that smokers are more likely to have protein in their urine which is a sign of damage. Luckily at this stage, the disease can still be reversible. Also, diseases that affect the kidneys, such as diabetes, can actually be worsened by smoking thus those on dialysis and needing kidney transplants are more likely to be smokers.  

Get tips on how to quit smoking here.

Too much protein

Protein is needed for growth and cell repair. However, as most use animal protein as our source, eating too much can lead to serious kidney issues (3).

When animal protein is broken down, it releases by-products such as ammonia. Unfortunately, overconsumption of animal protein can force the kidneys to work in overdrive in order to neutralize the ammonia. This continuous extra effort can eventually lead to kidney damage.

As opposed to red meat, there are plenty of other ways to get protein such as eating kidney beans and quinoa.