Every organ in the body is significant, but the kidneys hold a special place. This organ plays a crucial role in ensuring the smooth functioning of the body daily. When our kidneys are healthy and functioning, it helps us feel our best.
Do you know how often you may harm your kidney health without realizing it? It’s essential to be mindful of your kidney health to prevent long-term damage and reduced kidney functioning. Taking good care of your kidneys is crucial to avoid any potential damage in the long run.
If you want your kidneys to function properly and maintain your overall health, treating them well is essential. The kidneys play a crucial role in the body by filtering the blood, eliminating waste and extra fluids, and producing hormones that help regulate blood pressure. Additionally, they activate vitamin D for bone health and balance minerals such as sodium, potassium, and phosphorus. However, several everyday habits could harm these two bean-shaped organs. To protect and preserve your kidney health, it’s essential to be aware of these habits and make changes accordingly.
Overdoing it with too much salt
Consuming excessive amounts of sodium is possible if you frequently add salt to your food, eat out often or consume processed foods. Consuming excessive amounts of salt/sodium can lead to high blood pressure and damage your kidneys. Your kidneys filter blood to eliminate excess water from your body. To do this, your body must balance sodium and potassium levels to remove water from the bloodstream to the kidneys. However, a diet high in salt can disrupt this balance, reduce kidney function, and result in less water being removed from the body, leading to hypertension. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can cause your kidneys to work harder, increasing the risk of kidney disease.
What to do
Improve the flavor of your food by adding herbs and spices instead of relying on salt. Enjoy eating at least 5 fruits and vegetables each day. Reduce your consumption of fast food, TV dinners, salty snacks, and canned goods. Stay hydrated by drinking more water during the day, unless there are water restrictions, and engage in physical activity for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
Insufficient water intake
Drinking sufficient water helps your kidneys clear sodium and toxins through urine. Water also helps open up blood vessels allowing blood to flow freely to your kidneys to deliver essential nutrients. Becoming dehydrated makes this process more difficult for the kidneys. Severe dehydration can harm the kidneys drinking enough water is vital when you exercise, especially in hot and humid weather.
What to do
Drinking plenty of water each day can help reduce and avoid painful kidney stones. If you have kidney problems or kidney failure, you may need to restrict your fluid intake. A healthy goal is to drink 6 to 8 cups of water each day for most people.
Be “water wise” by drinking enough water or other healthy beverages, such as low fat milk, and making sure your urine color is either a light yellow or colorless. Dark yellow or cloudy urine often indicates you are dehydrated. Each day, your body should make about 1.5 liters of urine or 6 cups.
Using over-the-counter pain medicines, such as NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), may alleviate aches and pains. Still, they can harm the kidneys, especially if you already have kidney disease. Anyone with low kidney function should not use nonprescription pain medicine without their doctor’s recommendation. Kidney damage happens because high doses of painkillers harm kidney tissue and structures. These drugs can also reduce blood flow to the kidney. Older adults may react more intensely to these medicines and need a smaller dose.
What to do
Reduce the frequency of using NSAIDS and never go over the recommended dosage. Anyone with kidney disease should discuss with their doctor about taking any nonprescription painkiller.
Consuming too much sugar
A high sugar intake adds too many calories which can contribute to obesity. Carrying excess weight can elevate your risk of being diagnosed with either high blood pressure or diabetes, which can be significant contributors of kidney disease. Many foods contain excess sugar but can be hard to detect. These items include condiments like ketchup, breakfast cereals, and white bread, all which have sneaky sources of processed sugar.
What to do
Pay attention to the ingredients when buying packaged foods to avoid adding excess sugar in your diet.
Excessive consumption of alcohol
Drinking alcohol heavily – four drinks or more a day – doubles the risk of developing chronic kidney disease. Heavy drinkers who also smoke have about a five times higher risk of a diagnosis of chronic kidney disease compared to people who don’t smoke or drink alcohol to excess.
What to do
If you choose to drink, always drink in moderation. It is possible to consume alcohol in moderation without posing a risk to your health, even if you suffer from chronic kidney disease, polycystic kidney disease, end stage renal disease or diabetes.However, use caution if you have high blood pressure.
You already know lighting up is bad for your lungs and heart. But did you know smoking may not be good for your kidneys? Individuals who smoke have a higher risk of having protein present in their urine, which can indicate the presence of kidney disease. Other ways smoking may harm your kidneys include elevating hypertension and heart rate, reducing blood flow to the kidneys, narrows blood vessels in the kidneys, damages arterioles, forms arteriosclerosis of the renal arteries, and accelerates loss of kidney function.
What to do
The number of cigarettes smoked can increase the harm to kidneys, which is why cutting down may be helpful. Ideally, quitting would be the best solution. Quitting smoking is difficult; talking to your doctor about possible options like medications, may help. Other options may include chewing gum to curb cravings, try deep breathing or meditation until the urge passes, or join a quit-smoking program.
Sitting for long periods
Extended periods of sitting while working, driving, or attending meetings can have negative effects on your body and kidneys. Studies have connected prolonged sitting with kidney disease, although the exact reason why is not known. However, it is clear that physical movement leads to better blood pressure and glucose metabolism, which are crucial factors in maintaining healthy kidneys.
What to do
Be mindful about getting up and walking or stretching for 5 minutes, ideally at least every 30-60 minutes throughout the day. If it’s been awhile since you’ve exercised, get your doctors approval first. Slowly add in physical activity you enjoy and gradually increase the time and intensity of exercise. Kidney health will respond best to regular, consistent exercise instead of inconsistent or long stretches without movement.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncolo gy and prostate cancer 911.