Although the kidneys are two of the most vital organs in our bodies, most of us don’t pay much attention to them, partly because these hearty organs can take a tremendous amount of punishment and continue to function even at 15% of their capacity. But neglect can lead to devastating outcomes, especially for those at high risk for kidney diseases.
Did you know that your kidneys filter blood, produce hormones, eliminate toxins, absorb minerals, remove water, and neutralize acid -- amongst many other processes?
Given the pivotal role these twin organs play in executing and maintaining crucial bodily functions, it only makes sense to properly care for them. Failing to act now can lead to serious and unnecessary health problems sooner or later. And if you’re at high-risk for developing kidney diseases, the tangled web of degeneration will most likely snare you sooner than you expected.
Much like the heart, liver, and all the other organs that keep us alive, the kidneys can only take so much abuse. Unfortunately, the kidneys’ ability to suffer in silence and soldier on while harboring disease and decline poses a devastating problem: their silent nature often prevents people from discovering they have kidney disease until it’s too late.
Don’t let this happen to you. Do everything you can NOW to determine if you’re at high risk for kidney disease and make the right choices every day to keep your kidneys healthy and thriving. Trust us, you never want to hear these dreaded words from your doctor,“I’m sorry, but tests have revealed that your kidneys are failing.”
Now that we’ve convinced you to be proactive about maintaining optimal kidney health, what determines high risk for kidney diseases? The answers may surprise you. Click here to find out if you’re at greater risk for kidney diseases.
Here are 10 key habits that can cause lethal damage to your kidneys:
- Forgetting to Drink Enough Water - yes, water bottles are a ubiquitous presence in grocery stores, sporting arenas, movie theaters and other big venues, but if you’re like most people, you’re not drinking nearly enough even though you may carry water bottles with you all the time. Since the kidneys filter blood and eliminate waste and toxins from your body, you must drink an adequate amount of water daily to prevent dehydration, waste and toxins from building up in your body and wreaking havoc. How much water should you drink? On average you should drink half your weight in pounds in ounces. So if you weigh 160 lbs, you should consume 80 ounces of water which is equivalent to 5 of the 16 ounce bottles you see everywhere.
- Overshaking the Salt - it’s true that your body need some salt, an important mineral for your health. However, most foods already have some salt and other spices can be used that have much more favorable effects on the body than added salt. We should not be consuming more than 2-3 grams of sodium per day. If however, you’ve been diagnosed with hypertension, fluid overload or otherwise directed that you have effects of excessive sodium in your system, then any product that has more than 150 mg of sodium per serving listed on the label should not be consumed.
- Ignoring the Call of Nature Too Often - when you’re tackling a pressing problem, conducting a pivotal business meeting, or just going about your daily life, stopping to relieve your bladder in the bathroom can seem like a major inconvenience. An even bigger inconvenience? Kidney diseases, kidney stones, kidney failure, incontinence and bladder infections -- all of which can result from constantly ignoring and delaying the urge to urinate.
- Ingesting Too Much Sugar - it’s hard to resist the sweet taste of sugar, but here are some facts that can help you curb your intake. Studies have proven that people who drink two or more sugary drinks per day wind up with protein in their urine -- one of the first indications of a decline in kidney function. Excessive sugar intake also results in diuresis or removal of too much water from the body resulting in dehydration which also throws you into this tangled web of degeneration. Furthermore, sugar is an important factor in the development of diabetes, and diabetes is the most common cause of kidney failure. Having said this, I’d rather you’d consume minimal amounts of sugar than any amount of artificial sweeteners other than Stevia.
- Being Deficient in Vitamins and Minerals - eating a clean, well-rounded, plant-based diet of whole foods featuring plenty of fresh fruits and veggies as well as legumes does so much more than keep you in shape or help you shed those extra pounds you put on at your family reunion. It fuels your body with the nutrition it needs to function well. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are often the root cause of a multitude of medical conditions. With respect to your kidneys, a vitamin B6 and magnesium deficiency can increase the risk of kidney stones.
- Eating Too Much Animal Protein - what happens when you eat large amounts of animal proteins, especially red meat? First, you put yourself at risk of developing diabetes since animal protein, not sugar, is the #1 cause of diabetes, and as we mentioned in point #4, diabetes is the most common cause of kidney failure. Too much animal protein overworks your kidneys because these foods process a tremendous amount of protein into your system, increasing your kidneys’ metabolic load. This constant stress can result in kidney damage and dysfunction. Not ready to adapt to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle? Think frequency, not quantity. If you can’t give up animal protein (fish, chicken, red meat, etc.), indulge with wisdom by giving your body a break. For example, limit an animal protein meal to once per week to allow your kidneys to rest and recharge, and aim to consume most of your protein from plant-based sources like beans, grains, and nuts.
- Depriving Your Body of Sleep - in this tangled web of degeneration, sleep deprivation is another big contributor. A restful night’s sleep allows your body -- including your kidneys -- to recuperate from stress and repair damage. If you’re experiencing chronic sleep deprivation, you’re preventing your kidneys (and your entire body) from healing properly and also encouraging a disruption of hormonal balance. This can lead to diabetes, obesity, hypertension and kidney disease. Make sleep a priority for the sake of your kidneys and your overall health.
- Ingesting Too Much Caffeine - we live in a high-energy society of go-getters fueled by caffeine, mainly in the form of coffee, a favorite topic of social media memes. America may be powered by this beverage in both hot and cold forms, according to an iconic coffee franchise, but too much caffeine increases your risk of dehydration. And, as we mentioned in point #1, if you’re failing to drink enough water AND drinking too much caffeine, you’re placing a lot of stress on your kidneys and raising your blood pressure. Limit the amount of caffeinated beverages you drink and increase your water intake. Your kidneys will thank you.
- Taking NSAID Painkillers - notice, we specifically mentioned NSAID (non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs) painkillers, which include brand-names like Aleve, Advil and Ibuprofen. Why? When taken frequently, they can place extra tension on your kidneys, resulting in damage. Tylenol, on the other hand, is fine. We also encourage you to consider natural remedies like Yoga, stretching, meditation, hot and cold packs, heating pads, and other alternatives for pain relief.
- Consuming Alcohol - did you know the original meaning of the word “alcohol” is “flesh-eating spirit?” No wonder it’s a legal toxin. True, an occasional glass of wine or a drink here and there won’t cause too much harm to our bodies, but most people don’t limit themselves to one drink. Alcohol is another culprit for dehydration because it stimulates frequent urination and loss of fluid. If you’re not drinking enough water AND overindulging in alcohol, your chances of dehydration increase dramatically. And, as noted in points #1 and #8, when you’re dehydrated, waste and toxins build up in your body which can lead to kidney damage.
To avoid the tangled web of kidney degeneration, treat your kidneys with the respect they deserve. Shift to a clean, whole foods, plant-based diet; drink plenty of water; curtail or eliminate sugar, caffeine, and alcohol; seek out natural remedies for pain relief; heed the call of nature; and get a good quality night’s sleep on a regular basis. Making these changes today will help ensure a happier, healthier future for your kidneys and prevent you from developing kidney damage and diseases.