These 5 Detrimental Habits Are Harming Your Kidneys
Your kidneys are amazing little organs. Only an average of 4-5 inches, about the size of a fist, they form urine, balance body fluids, help regulate blood pressure, flush excess water and metabolites out of your body. They are also important in maintaining electrolyte balance in your body and are involved in the production of red blood cells.
This pair of organs is so important that the whole human body suffers when kidney damage occurs.
To prevent this from happening, we must avoid habits that are detrimental to the health of our kidneys. Below are some examples of common, and often overlooked habits that could lead to poor kidney health.
1. Eating Too Much Salt
Sodium is everywhere. Much like sugar, it is often used as a preservative and can be found everywhere from pickled vegetables to processed sweets. In the kitchen it is often used as table salt, a way to add flavor to savory dishes and to make the flavors in baked goods stand out. Point is, it really is quite easy to overdose on sodium.
This is bad news for kidney health. Your body removes excess fluid through a highly effective filtration system – you kidneys. Blood is filtered through the kidneys to draw out excess water in the blood through osmosis. This is done through a delicate balance between sodium and potassium molecules. Eating too much food with sodium in it could upset the balance and encourage water retention in the kidneys. This affects the blood pressure in your kidney’s tiny blood vessels, eventually causing damage.
2. Going Overboard With Pain Relievers
Some type of analgesics (pain relievers) should be taken with caution (and only with a doctor’s prescription), especially if you have decreased kidney function. Chronic and heavy use of analgesics such as ibuprofen, high dose aspirin, and naproxen may lead to analgesic nephropathy, the most common of which is chronic interstitial nephritis. The reason for this is likely because of decreased blood flow to the kidneys which may lead to premature death of kidney cells (necrosis).
When taking any type of pain reliever it is best to follow prescriptions as prescribed or follow the instructions on the label. Most over the counter analgesics have warnings on the label indicating that the medicine should NOT be used for more than 10 days of pain or 3 days of fever.
3. Waiting Too Long To Pee
Waiting too long to pee is not only massively uncomfortable it may also lead to kidney damage.
Urine itself is sterile but a component of it, urea, can serve as food for microorganisms. Holding your pee for too long can actually make your bladder and your kidneys a breeding ground for bacteria.
The liquid in your urine is expelled for a reason and failure to heed nature’s call could lead to kidney damage due to increased urine pressure on the kidneys. This could lead to serious renal malfunction.
4. Consuming Too Much Sugar
Sugar itself may not have a direct effect on your kidneys, but just like salt, this ubiquitous compound is found in nearly everything we eat. This can very easily lead us to eat so much more than we need on a daily basis. This is especially true when you eat processed food on the daily.
Excess sugar leads to obesity and diabetes, which are risk factors for developing kidney disease, amongst other things. Soda, which is basically just colored and flavored simple syrup, may have a more direct effect on your kidneys than other types of sweets.
A study from the Osaka University in Japan followed 8,000 university employees which they divided into three groups: those who drank one can of soda a day, those who drank two and those who abstained from soda. After three years, researchers found that those who drank 2 sodas a day were more likely to develop proteinuria. Proteinuria, an abnormally high amount of protein in urine, is a risk factor for developing end-stage kidney disease.
As if you needed more incentive to quit the nasty habit of smoking, smokers are actually also at risk for kidney disease. Smoking is known to worsen kidney problems in diabetics, but researchers have recently found that smoking can actually be detrimental to the kidneys of otherwise healthy people.
Compared to non-smokers, smokers tend to have higher levels of albumin in the urine and have delayed creatinine excretion. These symptoms are typical in the early stages of kidney disease.