According to the National Kidney Foundation, even common habits that you might consider to be harmless can cause kidney damage. Fortunately, changing your lifestyle and paying closer attention to your health can help prevent damage to your kidneys, and improve your wellness overall.
Below are 10 common habits that are causing harm to your kidneys, as outlined by the National Kidney Foundation.
1. Overusing Painkillers
Over-the-counter pain medications can help manage pain, but overusing them can cause harm. This is especially true if you are prone to kidney disease. When used excessively, medications like NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and analgesics can overload the kidneys. To limit your chances of kidney disease, reduce regular usage and do not take more than the recommended amount.
2. Excess Use of Salt
Consuming high amounts of sodium can increase blood pressure and can lead to kidney damage. Be aware of how much salt you use on your food and check the sodium amount on the back of packages. Instead of salt, use herbs or spices to flavor your food, but be careful – some spices can also contain high amounts of sodium!
3. Eating High Amounts of Processed Foods
Processed foods can contain significant amounts of sodium and phosphorus. People who already have kidney disease are advised to limit the amount of phosphorus in their diet. High amounts can be harmful to both kidneys and bones. Diets such as the DASH diet can help you eat healthier and prevent disease.
4. Not Drinking Enough Water
Water helps flush out sodium and toxins from your body and kidneys. Drinking enough water is one of the best ways to avoid kidney stones. However, those with worsening kidney problems may need to limit their fluid intake. For most people, drinking about two liters of water a day is sufficient.
5. Not Sleeping Enough
Not only can getting enough sleep increase your overall health and well-being, it can also help maintain healthy kidneys. Kidney function is regulated by your sleep and wake cycle. It coordinates the kidneys’ work over 24 hours.
6. Eating Too Much Meat
While animal products are a good source of protein, the high amounts of acid in the blood can be harmful to your kidneys. Consuming too much animal product can cause a condition called acidosis, in which your kidneys cannot adequately get rid of the acid. While protein is needed for a healthy diet, you should also balance consumption with fruits and vegetables.
7. Eating Foods High in Sugar
Sugar can contribute to obesity and increase your risk of developing high blood pressure and diabetes – two of the leading causes of kidney disease. Try and avoid added sugar in foods such as desserts, cereal, soda and white bread.
It is commonly known that smoking is not good for your lungs or heart, but smoking can also cause harm to your kidneys. Smoking can lead to damage to blood vessels, leading to poor blood flow to the kidneys.
9. Excess Alcohol
Regular heavy drinking doubles the risk of chronic kidney disease. Heavy drinkers who are also heavy smokers have five times more of a chance of developing chronic kidney disease.
10. Sitting Still
Sitting still has been linked to the development of kidney disease. Researchers do not know why or how sitting still or physical activity impacts you directly, however, people who are active tend to have healthier blood pressure and glucose metabolism. Both of these factors are important in kidney health.
For more information on kidney disease, visit www.kidney.org.