Kidneys are a paired organ that’s located at the bottom of your rib cage, on both sides of the back. They’re responsible for numerous processes in your body, including removal of waste products, fluid regulation, removal of drugs, production of blood pressure-regulating hormones, production of an active form of vitamin D, and regulation of red blood cells.
So, kidney health is crucial for your overall health and general well-being. By keeping your kidneys healthy, your body will filter and excrete waste products properly and produce hormones to help your body work properly. Knowing what can harm your kidneys will help you prevent serious complications. Here is a list of some seemingly innocent things that can do a number to kidney health.
According to a 2012 study, giving up smoking for 16 or more years reduces the risk of renal cell carcinoma (the most common type of kidney cancer) by 40 percent. Smoking can also cause damage to the blood vessels, and raise your risk of high blood pressure.
2. Taking painkillers frequently
If you’re on OTC medications for chronic pain, monitor your kidney health. These drugs tend to lower blood flow to the kidneys and provoke scarring since they’re directly toxic to the organ. This doesn’t mean you have to suffer from chronic pains, however, taking NSAIDs frequently can increase your risk of kidney issues. Consult a kidney specialist and pain doctor about your medications and get your kidneys checked regularly.
3. Being overweight
As you may know, carrying excessive weight is hard for any system of your body. Being overweight increases your risk of getting type 2 diabetes, which in turn can contribute to kidney disease. Insulin irregularities from both type 1 and type 2 diabetes lead to inflammation and scarring in the kidneys. If you have diabetes, you should check your kidney function and urine regularly.
4. Eating processed foods
Most processed foods are loaded with sodium, which can not only harm your heart and blood vessels, but also put your kidneys in trouble. Every time you eat too much salt, your body slushes the sodium out when you urinate, and it leaches calcium from your body.
Too much calcium in your urine means you can develop kidney stones. Limit your sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams a day. In fact, the average American consumes more than 3,400 milligrams every day, and some people consume twice that.
If you pay attention to nutrition labels, you might be surprised how quickly sodium can add up. People usually pay attention to carbs,fat and calories, but they forget about sodium content.
5. Not getting enough water
It may sound surprising but you don’t necessarily need to drink a full eight glasses of water to keep your kidneys healthy. However, consuming just a cup or two a day can cause problems. Not drinking enough water can lead to an increase in sodium levels which in turn affects your blood pressure.
The kidneys are extremely sensitive to blood flow. You possibly won’t need to worry about that level of dehydration every day, but consider drinking enough water if you’re exercising a lot or you’re outside on a hot day.
6. Taking supplements without a prescription
Even if a product is marketed as “natural”, that doesn’t mean it will bring you health benefits. There are lots of herbal medicines that can actually harm you. For example, a plant-based ingredient known as aristolochic acid that’s contained in “traditional medicines,” can provoke scarring in the kidneys.
Unless you’re taking multivitamins regularly, always check with your healthcare provider before taking any type of supplement.
7. Ignoring high blood pressure
High blood pressure is bad for your whole body, and your kidneys are not an exception. They are basically one big set of blood vessels with urine drains. If you have elevated blood pressure in your big blood vessels, you have high blood pressure in your smaller blood vessels. If left ignored, hypertension can cause damage to the blood vessels leading to your kidneys.