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Nature & Science

Habits That Can Seriously Damage Your Kidneys

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Consuming an excessive amount of salt can negatively impact your kidneys. Salt, while adding flavor to food, offers no inherent medical benefits and can pose a challenge for the kidneys in removing excess water from the body.

According to The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average person should consume no more than one teaspoon of salt per day, which is about 2,300 milligrams. It’s important to be mindful of the sodium content in pre-cooked and processed foods, as they may already contain significant amounts of salt.

Keep Your Stress Levels In Check

Stress has been associated with various negative health effects, including elevated blood pressure, reduced digestion functionality, and a weakened immune system. Chronic stress can lead to impaired decision-making, poor sleep, and unhealthy eating habits, ultimately impacting your overall health and potentially placing strain on your kidneys.

Uncontrolled stress can contribute to kidney damage due to high blood pressure. Managing stress is essential for maintaining kidney health and overall well-being.

However, Don’t Push Yourself Too Hard (At First)

When initiating a new physical activity, it’s important not to push yourself too hard, particularly if your body is not accustomed to the activity. Overexertion during physical exercise can lead to a condition called Rhabdomyolysis, characterized by muscle breakdown that can strain the kidneys and potentially lead to kidney failure.

Allow your body time to acclimate to the new physical activity to mitigate the risk of Rhabdomyolysis and kidney strain.

Steer Clear Of Secondhand Smoke

Exposure to secondhand smoke can significantly increase the risk of heart disease and lung cancer, even for non-smokers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasize that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, highlighting the importance of avoiding environments where smoking is prevalent.

Secondhand smoke exposure can have detrimental effects on overall health, including kidney function. It is important to minimize exposure to secondhand smoke to protect your kidneys and reduce the risk of kidney disease.

Don’t Ignore Your Body When You’re Sick

Properly addressing illness and avoiding unnecessary exposure to bacteria and viruses is essential for protecting kidney health. It is advisable to rest and allow your body to recover when sick, as pushing through illness can prolong the duration of the illness and potentially impact kidney function.

Resting and allowing your body to recover from illness can aid in minimizing the impact on kidney function and overall health.

Mental Health can Improve Kidney Function

Chronic stress and high-stress levels can negatively affect kidney health. Managing stress through positive habits such as meditation and implementing a balanced lifestyle can contribute to improved kidney function and overall well-being.

Adopting positive habits and managing stress can support kidney health and overall well-being.

Don’t Smoke Cigarettes

Smoking cigarettes has extensive negative health implications, including potential harm to kidney function. It is advisable to avoid smoking and minimize exposure to secondhand smoke to protect your kidneys and overall health.

Avoiding cigarette smoke and prioritizing a smoke-free environment can help protect kidney health and overall well-being.

The urge to smoke is tough to kick even though it comes with a hefty price tag and health risks. However, there are support groups available that can help you quit. If you’re currently a smoker, it’s important to keep fighting, because it’s never too late to quit.

Skip That Fourth Cup of Coffee

Drinking coffee in moderation is generally fine. However, exceeding three or four cups per day, depending on your body size, can lead to increased blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, stress, and heartburn, all of which can contribute to kidney damage. Dr. Jessica Saville of the National Kidney Foundation advises to limit coffee intake to three cups per day.

The More You Stand, the Better Your Health Will Be

Prolonged sitting increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer in adults. It was found that reducing sitting time by just one hour daily reduces the risk of heart disease by 26%. Sitting for short bursts is fine, but it’s important to get up and walk around frequently. Try not to sit for more than an hour without taking a quick two-minute stretch.

Health Benefits of One Daily Drink

Moderate alcohol consumption, particularly red wine, has been linked to improved heart health and blood pressure in several studies. Drinking about one drink per day, equivalent to 12 ounces of beer or five ounces of wine, may support a healthy heart and lower the risk of heart disease.

Don’t Abruptly Stop Taking Your Medication

Abruptly stopping or inconsistently taking medication puts a significant strain on the kidneys, which may lead to instability and stress. It is important to maintain a consistent routine to minimize the pressure on the kidneys and maximize the benefits of medication.

Keep Track of Your Blood Pressure Regularly

High blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney damage and failure. Regular blood pressure checks, recommended at least once every two years, are essential for maintaining kidney health and overall well-being. Setting a yearly reminder to get your blood pressure checked is a good practice.

Brushing Your Teeth Helps Prevent Stroke

Maintaining clean and healthy teeth is associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Gum diseases can lead to bacterial infections and inflammation, causing arteries to tighten and increasing the risk of stroke. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing can contribute to a healthier heart and kidneys.

E-Cigarettes Are Also Dangerous

E-cigarettes and vapes, often seen as an alternative to traditional smoking, carry their own set of health risks. Many studies are still ongoing to fully understand the long-term effects of e-cigarette usage.evaluate vaping as a safety concern and are still considered experimental. However, recent studies have revealed a link between e-cigarettes and illness. Many states have started banning these devices due to increasing concerns about reported lung illnesses and deaths across the United States.

Processed foods contain high levels of sodium, which can exceed the daily recommended limit and contribute to kidney damage over time. Additionally, excessive intake of potassium and phosphorus from processed foods can strain the kidneys and lead to complications.

Alcohol consumption should be moderate, as excessive drinking can put a significant strain on the kidneys. However, moderate alcohol intake has been associated with a lower risk of kidney dysfunction.

Watching excessive amounts of TV has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Engaging in regular exercise while limiting TV time can help reduce this risk.

Heartburn medication, if taken regularly, has been associated with a 26% increase in chronic kidney disease. It is recommended to opt for heartburn medications that do not have adverse effects on the kidneys, such as H2 Blockers.

Shellfish, especially those containing domoic acid, have been linked to an increased risk of kidney disease. Consuming seafood in moderation is advised to avoid potential kidney damage.

High consumption of saturated fat, particularly LDL cholesterol, can clog arteries and harm the kidneys. While occasional and small amounts of butter are acceptable, large doses should be avoided to protect kidney health.Margarine offers a comparable flavor while containing minimal trans fat or “hydrogenated” fats, both of which cause a significant increase in LDL cholesterol levels.

The average adult often falls short of the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per day, leading to chronic undersleeping and contributing to a 19% rise in kidney failure, according to a 2016 University of Chicago study. This study found a link between sleeping 6.5 hours per night and the likelihood of kidney failure. This is due to the kidneys continuously working when awake, causing strain without sufficient rest. Poor dietary decisions at the end of the day due to fatigue and lack of energy may also be a factor.

Regular exercise has been shown to promote kidney health by lowering blood pressure, improving sleep, and enhancing muscle function, according to The National Kidney Foundation. A 2019 study revealed a significant improvement in the health of people with kidney disease who engaged in just 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.

Having a healthy social life is associated with improved kidney health. However, excessive drinking with friends may negate this benefit.

Holding in urine for prolonged periods can lead to the accumulation of waste products and bacteria in the body, posing a risk to kidney health. Thus, it is essential to respond to the body’s need to urinate promptly.

Engaging in just fifteen minutes of daily exercise can extend lifespan by over three years, compared to those who do not exercise at all, according to Dr. Harvey Simon, an associate professor at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Energy drinks, high in sugar and caffeine, have been linked to high blood pressure, stress, and kidney damage. There is a lack of regulation by the Foods and Drugs Administration despite repeated calls from researchers to address the harm they pose.

Consuming healthy fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, can reduce the risk of heart disease and enhance immunity to disease, as opposed to unhealthy fats like trans fats and saturated fats, which contribute to raised LDL cholesterol levels and arterial blockage.

Some incredibly nutritious foods that are high in healthy fats include olive oil, chia seeds, dark chocolate, flaxseeds, nuts, and seed butter. Just remember, trans fats are not good for you. If you want to avoid trans fats completely, opt for a vegan diet. Vegan foods don’t contain natural trans fats, though some processed vegan foods may have artificial additives containing trans fats.

A Small Daily Portion of Fruits and Vegetables Goes a Long Way

Various types of fruits and vegetables offer protection against a range of health issues, from heart disease to cancer. In addition to this, many of these foods also help to prevent kidney damage and aid in the healing of kidney disease. Some of the best foods for your kidneys include apples, blueberries, kale, strawberries, spinach, sweet potatoes, red bell peppers, cauliflower, and cabbage. These foods also help lower cholesterol levels, indirectly reducing the risk of kidney disease, and provide direct protection against kidney disease.

A meta-analysis in 2017 by the International Journal of Epidemiology revealed that consuming just five daily servings of fruits and vegetables helps decrease the risk of heart disease, and increasing this to ten servings further lowers the risk.

Be Careful of Artificial Sweeteners

In a society where over three-quarters of Americans are obese and more than two-thirds are overweight, it’s no surprise that “diet” and “zero sugar” versions of popular drinks such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi have outsold the regular versions in certain places. There’s also a growing trend of replacing regular sugar with artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, saccharin, and tagatose. Despite being low in calories, these sugar-free alternatives have been associated with various adverse health conditions.

It’s generally advised to avoid consuming more than one or two artificially sweetened drinks per day, but this assumption still poses a significant problem. As artificial sweeteners have only been in use for a few years, there is not enough reliable data on their health effects, as the impact of various substances takes a lifetime to fully analyze. With no official stance on the safety of artificial sweeteners, it’s best to avoid them if possible, to err on the side of caution.

Avoid Excessive Sugar Consumption

Excessive sugar consumption can lead to energy imbalances, mood swings, reduced cognitive performance, weight gain, poor sleep, as well as elevated blood sugar levels. According to the American Diabetes Association, high blood sugar levels force the kidneys to filter an excessive amount of blood, leading to kidney diseases over time.

Researchers at the University of Montreal have found a direct connection between sugar, diabetes, and kidney disease. Excess sugar consumption often leads to diabetes, and diabetes contributes to kidney disease. This creates a feedback loop that worsens the health issue. It’s crucial to monitor your blood glucose levels regularly to prevent diabetes and avoid excessive sugar consumption. Next, learn about the effects of artificial sweeteners and alcohol on your kidneys in the next section.

Adopt the Habit of Staying Hydrated

Chronic dehydration significantly increases the risk of kidney failure, as per a report by the National Hydration Council, which stated that most kidney stones are a result of chronic dehydration.

Dehydration causes a buildup of minerals in the urine, which can develop into kidney stones. To avoid this, ensure that you consume enough fluids. It’s easier to become dehydrated than to cause harm from overhydration, so it’s always better to stay well-hydrated.

Watch Out With Those Pain Killers

Pain relievers should only be used when necessary. Dependence on painkillers can take a toll on the kidneys as they reduce blood flow to the kidneys, and the more frequently they are taken, the more severe this effect becomes, leading to poor kidney function and, in severe cases, kidney failure.The New England Journal of Medicine discovered that heavy use of painkillers like Advil and Tylenol resulted in over 5,000 cases of kidney failure annually in the United States. As a precaution, painkillers should never be taken on an empty stomach.

Stand Up Whenever You Can, Especially If You Work a Desk Job

Sitting for more than six hours a day increases the likelihood of dying within 15 years by 40% compared to those who sit for less than three hours. This is especially important for people with desk jobs, as a recent study published in PLoS One found that an additional hour of non-sedentary activity significantly reduces the risk of kidney failure.

According to researchers, sitting for prolonged periods can lead to significantly higher rates of kidney disease. This is attributed to the fact that prolonged sitting lowers blood pressure while increasing glucose and cholesterol levels, which are directly correlated with higher rates of kidney failure.

More Benefits of Sleeping Eight Hours a Day

A 2014 research conducted over ten years found that one of the most consistent habits in people with healthy hearts is getting proper sleep. This habit was mentioned in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology as one of the foundations of a healthy heart, which also correlates to kidney health, as the two are intimately connected.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, deep sleep activates brain chemicals that help lower heart rate and blood pressure, leading to better functioning kidneys. Lack of sleep increases the risk of heart attack and heart disease by more than 50%. Getting at least seven hours of sleep every night is important.

Find Out Your Optimal BMI and Stick to it

Physicians agree that there is a direct correlation between weight gain and heart problems. A 2018 research in JAMA Cardiology found that having a high BMI (Body Mass Index) significantly increases the risk of heart disease.

Maintaining an optimal BMI level is important, although the BMI system isn’t suitable for everyone due to variations in body types. Dr. Chanté Wiegand, ND, a Naturopathic Doctor and Director of Education at The Synergy Company, emphasizes that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Learn how toothbrushing and e-cigarettes can affect your kidney health next.

A Symptomless Disease

One of the common mistakes made by seemingly healthy people is assuming that because they feel healthy, there’s no need for regular medical check-ups. The American Heart Association recommends getting a blood pressure check at least once a year, checking blood glucose levels once every three years, and cholesterol levels every four to six years.

Taking proactive steps to ensure good health ahead of time is important. Many medical issues can be easily treated and prevented if found early, making them much harder to treat once they have progressed and intensified.

Stay Away From Coca-Cola and Pepsi

Although it’s known that these beverages contain high amounts of sugar, it’s important to understand that excessive sugar consumption can lead to a range of issues, including heart and kidney problems.

Drinking two or more bottles of these sodas daily can double the chances of contracting kidney disease. These drinks also contain phosphoric acid, which may be harmful to the kidneys, in addition to the sugar content.

Image Source: Unsplash

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