Your kidneys are two small, bean-shaped organs that sit below the ribs on either side of the spine. Roughly the size of a fist, kidneys are in charge of filtering the blood and removing toxic substances from the food we eat, expelling these toxins out in the form of waste products. Kidneys also help maintain the delicate balance of fluids in the body. If our kidneys are not working properly, our body cannot function. The breakdown of kidneys can lead to Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), an umbrella term that covers various conditions that damage your kidneys and decrease their performance ability.
CKD can lead to complications like high blood pressure, low blood count, weak bones, poor nutrition and nerve damage, and can increase the risk of heart and blood vessel diseases. The damage caused by CKD occurs over a long period of time, and if left untreated, may lead to eventual kidney failure, which is treated by renal dialysis and kidney transplant.
The two main causes of CKD are high blood pressure and diabetes, and the various symptoms include fatigue, insomnia, muscle cramping, swollen feet and ankles, lack of appetite, trouble concentrating, puffy eyes, itchy skin and the frequent need to urinate.
Anyone can be at risk of potential kidney disease, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle can dramatically decrease your risk. It’s important to know what can cause kidney damage, and here are the 20 that might surprise you.
1. Red Meat
Red meat is a great source of protein, but did you know that including too much meat in your diet can put you at a higher risk of kidney disease? A study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology that investigated the long-term effects of red meat consumption discovered a correlation between red meat intake and an increase in the risk of kidney failure. The study, conducted by Dr. Woon-Puay Koh, followed 63,257 adults in Singapore for an average of 15.5 years and found that people consuming the highest amounts of red meat had a 40% increased risk of developing the end-stage renal disease (ESRD).
Red meat, when eaten in excess, can produce waste products that damage kidney filtration and have a negative impact on our health. The protein found in red meat produces by-products that can put added stress on kidney function, and when this protein is broken down it releases a compound called urea. Too much urea can build up and contribute to kidney damage, especially if your kidneys are already weakened.
Red meats like beef, pork, and lamb also contain more saturated fats and cholesterol than other types of meat, which can raise cholesterol levels, worsen heart disease, and increase the risk of renal artery disease.
To avoid any risk, Dr Koh suggests limiting the amount of red meat consumed on a weekly basis, by substituting meat with fish/shellfish and poultry or switching to plant-based protein alternatives like soy and legumes. Alternatively, the American Institute for Cancer Research recommends eating no more than 18 ounces of red meat per week.
Alcohol can be considered the most socially acceptable drug. Technically a depressant, which means it slows down your brain and affects the way it sends and receives messages, alcohol can also badly damage your kidneys by changing the way they function.
Drinking alcohol frequently can increase the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes, which can be a precursor to kidney disease and can lead to eventual kidney failure. Moderate alcohol consumption isn’t considered a risk to healthy kidneys, but for those who have onset kidney problems, the damage can be extensive.
Alcohol has many other harmful effects. A study published in the Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation Journal discusses the effects of alcohol and the potential for chronic kidney disease. Aside from damage to your kidneys, excessive alcohol consumption also puts you at a higher risk of hypertension and stroke.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, more than four alcoholic drinks a day can have a negative effect on your health and worsen kidney disease. Though further research is needed to properly understand the relationship between high alcohol consumption and kidney disease, it’s still better to err on the side of caution and limit the amount of alcohol you ingest.
3. Table Salt
Salt is essential for our health. It helps regulate our blood pressure, control fluid balance, and helps our muscles and nerves function correctly. It can also be used as a remedy for heat stroke, soothe sore throats and treat tooth and gum issues. But even though it’s an important part of our diet, too much can cause a lot of damage. Table salt is a very common staple in many households all over the world but is considered to be the least healthy type of salt.
Table salt is a manufactured form of salt. Comprised mostly of sodium chloride, it’s similar to natural sea salt but is created by taking natural salt and cooking it at 1200℉, which strips it of all the important minerals. There are many different additives found in table salts, such as synthetic chemicals like iodide, sodium bicarbonate, fluoride, and anti-caking agents, as well as toxic amounts of potassium iodide and aluminium.
Diets high in table salt increase the chances of developing renal stones and can worsen health issues like diabetes and obesity. Continuing to ingest high volumes can potentially cause kidney and liver problems, as well as hypertension, heart disease, water retention, stroke and heart failure.
The general recommendation of daily salt intake is no more than 6 grams or one teaspoon. With today’s processed foods and soda beverages, it’s extremely easy to go over that recommended amount. Vigilance is required to ensure you eat as organically as possible, because the less processed a product is, the less table salt it will have.
Caffeine is a natural stimulant, found in many different foods and drinks like coffee, tea, cocoa, and chocolate. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) consider caffeine to be both a drug and food additive, and it is likely to be the world’s most popular stimulant. According to the 2013 online survey conducted by the National Coffee Association, over 587 million cups of coffee are drunk per year in the US alone. But even though caffeine is a popular pick-me-up, there can be detrimental side effects.
Because caffeine is a stimulant, it speeds up the central nervous system, making the brain send and receive messages at a faster rate than usual. Excessive amounts can cause an increase in body temperature, high blood pressure, dizziness, headaches, heart palpitations, jitters, restlessness, and insomnia.
Caffeine can be found in many things, from soda beverages to prescription medication, and when ingested, it can cause the kidneys to become dehydrated, in turn making them work harder to pump out more fluids. Caffeine also stimulates blood flow, which places additional stress on the kidneys, and this can also increase blood pressure.
Though caffeine has many health benefits as well, such as weight loss, added alertness, higher brain function and better cognitive thinking, experts say around 200-300 milligrams of caffeine each day is enough. And when tracking your caffeine intake, keep in mind that it applies to all foods and drinks that include caffeine – not just coffee.
5. Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners have been around since the 1800s, with saccharin the first to be discovered. There are many various types of artificial sweeteners these days, including aspartame, found in Equal and NutraSweet; sucralose, found in Splenda; acesulfame, found in Sunette and Equal Spoonful; saccharin, found in Sweet ‘N Low; and xylitol, found in Perfect Sweet.
These sweeteners are generally considered to be non-nutritive. This means they have no calories and are completely void of any nutrition. Commonly added to many processed foods and drinks, they’re also hiding in a lot of other products like toothpaste and mouthwash, chewable vitamins and gum, cough syrup, salad dressing, frozen yoghurt, candy, breakfast cereals, and processed snacks.
Artificial sweeteners are highly addictive. Too much can cause headaches, migraines, weight gain, and increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. A diet high in sugars and sweeteners also puts you at risk of dental problems like cavities and tooth decay.
Research published by the National Center for Biotechnology found that two or more servings per day of artificially sweetened soda was associated with increased chances of a decline in kidney function in women. To avoid this risk, it’s important to avoid soda beverages and processed, highly-refined foods as much as possible. And instead of using artificial sweeteners, make use of nature’s sugars like maple syrup, raw honey, stevia and coconut sugar.
6. Dairy Products
Dairy products can be a good source of many natural essentials like protein, B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium., though there have been many research advances that are finding dairy products are doing us more harm than good. Minerals like calcium and phosphorus help build strong bones and muscles, but if you’re already at risk of kidney disease, a build-up of these minerals can cause high levels in the blood, which can increase the risk of bone and heart disease.
A common cause against the popular inclusion of dairy in the food pyramid is explained by Walter Willett, MD, PhD, a professor of epidemiology and head of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health, who says “One of the main arguments for USDA recommendations is that drinking milk or equivalent dairy products will reduce the risk of fractures. But in fact, there’s very little evidence that milk consumption is associated with reduced fractures.” Many other dairy products like cheese, ice cream and butter can also contribute to high cholesterol levels and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Research published by The American Society for Clinical Nutrition, Inc. has linked the use of dairy products – specifically cow’s milk – with the occurrence of insulin-dependent diabetes. Milk contains animal proteins, which are highly acidic and increase calcium secretion into the urine. When this occurs, the body must take calcium from our bones in order to neutralize the acid in our system. Not only does this cause our bones to weaken, it also puts an enormous amount of pressure on our kidneys.
With the advance of modern research, studies have further shown that most people are, in fact, lactose intolerant, meaning dairy products are naturally more difficult for our bodies to process. So, for the good of your kidneys and overall health, instead of dairy products, aim to gain equal or more nutrition from other dairy-free sources. Swap cow’s milk for an alternative like rice, coconut or almond milk, and find calcium in green leafy vegetables, seeds, and whole grains.
7. Carbonated Beverages
Carbonated beverages are drinks that have been infused with carbon dioxide gas. It’s this pressurization of carbon dioxide that creates the bubbles and fizzing that makes these drinks so refreshing, but drinking too many may increase blood pressure, reduce kidney function and heighten the risk of developing kidney stones.
Research has found there to be linked between the high sugar content of fizzy drinks and cancer, with one study suggesting that drinking two of these soda drinks a week increases the amount of insulin produced by the pancreas, which can double the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Insulin is a hormone created by the pancreas that helps move sugar from food and drink into the bloodstream, where it’s then used by cells and turned into energy. High levels of insulin in the blood can lead to a number of serious health problems, including diabetes and heart disease.
Frequent consumption of carbonated beverages can also raise the risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s, and cause liver damage, premature ageing and obesity. These drinks can contain up to 10 teaspoons of sugar in each individual can, as well as artificial sweeteners and caffeine.
Luckily, you can kick the soda habit by substituting them with other types of beverages like fruit-infused water, coconut water, green tea, lemon/lime water or vegetable juice. And if none of those is appealing, try a glass of red wine – it’s still a healthier alternative.
According to data published by the National Kidney Foundation, smoking cigarettes causes 1 in 5 deaths in the US every year and is thought to be the most preventable risk factor for many harmful diseases and illnesses. One cigarette alone contains over 4800 chemicals, and 69 of those are known carcinogens.
Not only are smokers at a much higher risk of many various types of cancer like lung, bladder and mouth cancers, but smoking also increases the risk of lung and heart disease, as well as pregnancy complications, stroke, and kidney problems.
Smoking harms the kidneys by increasing blood pressure and heart rate, creating added stress on kidney function. It also reduces blood flow, narrows blood vessels, and damages the arterioles – delicate branches of the arteries. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that the risk of diabetes was higher in smokers than in non-smokers.
Smoking slows blood flow to all major organs, and it can also negatively affect medicines used to treat high blood pressure. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a leading cause of kidney disease. And it’s not just the smokers who are at risk. Second-hand smoke exposure kills almost 50,000 people each year in the US. To benefit yourself and those around you, it’s best to take steps towards quitting for good.
9. Genetically Modified Foods
GMOs (Genetically modified organisms/food) are products of modern biotechnological constructs and organisms whose DNA has been modified in a way that would not occur naturally. Though this might sound similar to Frankenstein’s monster, it’s generally to allow the best parts of various foods to be crossed over from one organism to another, or between non-related species.
The benefits of GMOs include better food taste and quality and longer shelf life, but because GMOs are still relatively new, there are some uncertainties in terms of what harm they could do to animals and humans. GMOs go through rigorous standards to ensure they’re safe for human consumption, and according to the FDA’s website, they are as safe to consume as non-genetically engineered foods.
However, more research is coming out that is shedding light on the potential hazards of GMOs. A study conducted by Egyptian researchers found that rats given genetically-modified soy were found to have deadly amounts of toxicity in their kidneys, liver, blood and even DNA.
To avoid the potential risks with GMOs, aim to buy food labelled 100% organic. When buying meat, try to purchase 100% organic grass-fed, and organic eggs. Avoid processed food as much as possible, always read the labels, and ensure you know what you’re buying. It can be hard to avoid GMOs in this day and age, but with a little extra attention, you will be able to accomplish it.
10. Fluid Intake
Our bodies are made up of roughly 60% water. Fluid is important for many reasons, including the delivery of nutrients around through the blood, the replacement of fluid lost through sweating and helping many chemical reactions that happen in our body. The human body can’t store water, and as such it must be replaced daily. Most mature adults can lose almost 3 litres a day, so it’s important to stay hydrated. Signs of dehydration include dark urine headaches, tiredness and lack of concentration. But on the other end of the scale, excessive fluid can be just as harmful.
In a study published by Circulation, it was discovered that excessive fluid intake can increase morbidity and mortality in stage 5 CKD patients, and greater fluid retention in those patients was linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular death. Though it may seem hard to ingest too much fluid, it’s inclusive of all beverages, foods with high water content, and soups. It’s also worthy of note that almost all foods contain fluids, with some fruits and vegetables being approximately 90% fluid.
Some people require a higher fluid intake than others, including those on a high protein or high fibre diet, pregnant and breastfeeding women, people who are very physically active, or who are exposed to warmer conditions than most.
Drinking too much water can cause hyponatremia, also known as water intoxication. It’s rare, but it can occur when large amounts of water are consumed in a short time frame. When this happens, the kidneys cannot excrete enough fluid in order to properly filter and flush out the water. Hyponatraemia can lead to headaches and blurred visions, convulsion, swelling of the brain and possible death, though you’d need to consume many litres in a very short period of time for this to happen.
The kidneys are the unsung heroes of the human body. Without them, we can’t survive. It’s important to make the right decisions when it comes to the foods we eat and the lifestyles we lead, in order to allow them to function correctly.
Vegetables are an important part of getting a healthy diet. They contain the necessary nutrients for your body to function well. However, too many of these nutrients can be harmful. There are a few fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, beet green, yam and brown mushrooms which have high amounts of potassium.
The kidneys are capable of managing your normal potassium levels. However, they are not to do that with the extreme levels of potassium. The amount of potassium in the blood is normally low when compared to that within the various cells in the body.
When the amount of potassium builds up in your body, they lead to a high concentration level in the blood. The high levels of potassium in your body can cause cell damage, and metabolic and kidney problems. In some cases, it can result in irregular heartbeats and even the heart can stop working.
The symptoms of the high levels of potassium are not easy to be seen. When they happen, unfortunately, it will mean that the potassium is already at a significantly high level. Some of the symptoms include muscular weakness that may lead to paralysis. The amount of potassium can only be determined when you go for a medical check-up with your doctor. However, it may go unnoticed if you don’t go for a regular medical check-up.
For those who already have a kidney problem, this is a routine test. It is checked if you have a medical condition that may result in raised potassium. If you are taking specific drugs that can raise the level of potassium, you may be tested for it.
If you have bad kidneys, avoid excessive amounts of bananas, raisins, prunes, collard greens, cantaloupe, tomatoes, potatoes, beet green, yam and brown mushrooms. These foods may worsen your condition.
Opioid epidemic, painkillers and drug abuse concept with close up on a bottle of prescription drugs and hydrocodone pills falling out of it on white
12. Excess Painkillers
It’s normal to take painkillers whenever you are feeling pain. Most people take these painkillers without realizing the long-term side effects that they can cause. What is called an analgesic, it’s any medicine that is taken to relieve pain. Over the counter, analgesics include aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen sodium. These medicines are not dangerous to the body when taken moderately due to your medical condition.
However, they can become dangerous to your kidneys if taken over a long period. An increased amount can be fatal to the kidneys especially when taken over an extended period of time. This occurs when you have a chronic problem that requires the drugs to be taken in. It is a challenge when there is a medical condition that will leave you with no other choice.
Most of the medicines that can potentially cause kidney damage is excreted through the kidneys. This happens because the liver does not break them. It is the same when waste products are passed out through urine. Analgesic has been linked to two types of kidney damage. They can cause acute renal failure and chronic kidney disease known as analgesic nephropathy.
However, these kidney problems normally happen when you are taking high amounts and over an extended period. For instance, research has shown that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can cause kidney problems. It’s believed that 3 per cent of chronic kidney diseases each year are caused by taking too many of these drugs such as ibuprofen. This applies to over-the-counter and prescription drugs.
These drugs can become harmful to your kidneys if improperly taken. It’s important to consult your doctor for the prescription or don’t take more than one packaging. Taking more than one package will encourage you to take in more than the required dose.
Fish is a favourite food for most people. It is a great source of the nutrients that are required by the body. However, some fish such as sardines have a high content of purines. Purines can be hazardous to the kidneys when taken in high amounts.
The sardines have a high content of purine. This later develops into uric acid in the urine and as a result, forms the uric acid stones. Therefore, purine-rich foods may cause calcium oxalate stones in your body.
If you are at a higher risk of getting uric acid stones, the compounds can harm your body. A high level of purine can increase the amount of uric acid in the urine. This leads to the development of uric acid stones. This condition can be painful and will require immediate medical attention.
A study done by the American Urological Association linked to intake of purine to health problems. When you take a high amount of purine from fish such as sardines it can lead to hyperuricemia and hyperuricosuria in healthy individuals without stones. They went further and associated purine-rich foods with stimulation of calcium oxalate. They explained that this was due to an increasing amount of calcium that was excreted.
The good thing is that sardines are the greatest source of essential omega-3 fatty acids. These acids are important to your well-being. Finding a better source of omega-3 fatty acids can be challenging. They are able to avoid contamination from some compounds such as mercury which is toxic to your body.
If you like sardines, you need to limit eating them to once or twice a week. There are other purine-rich foods available including anchovies, organ meats, bacon, scallops, shrimp and baker’s yeast. These types of foods should be avoided if you stand a higher risk of getting kidney problems.
It cannot be denied that spinach is one of the favourite foods for most people. It provides a lot of benefits to the body. Some of the advantages of eating them include the nutrients, fibre content, and minerals. Fibre plays a significant role in the digestive system by providing the bulk necessary to prevent constipation.
However, spinach has a high content of a compound called oxalate. This compound is harmful to the kidneys. It binds to minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron before being excreted. The body eliminates it from the system through the urine or stool as a waste product.
This compound is a component of calcium oxalate and kidney stones. It has been recommended that by reducing the intake of oxalate in spinach, you avoid kidney problems. Therefore, most people decrease the urinary oxalate to prevent kidney stones.
The 2008 report by the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology Studies, was based on their research on kidney problems. The results indicated that there is a higher level of urine oxalate in some people. It states that increased urine oxalate levels were found in people such as those who were obese and those suffering from diabetes.
It went on to say that the younger adults had higher levels when they were compared to the older adults. Another finding was that the higher calcium in the diet was related to lower levels of urine oxalate. Lastly, it concluded that the higher vitamin C was linked to higher levels.
Reducing the intake of oxalate in spinach can help you to prevent a medical condition. When hyperoxaluria is linked to increased gut absorption of oxalate, restriction of oxalate is helpful to your kidneys. You will need to avoid eating spinach. Studies have shown that 50 per cent of individuals with idiopathic hyperoxaluria and medical history of kidney stones can reduce urinary oxalate. This can be decreased to normal levels by avoiding spinach.
15. Exposure to Contrast Dyes commonly used in Imaging
When you go for the blood test, doctors conduct an imaging test to examine your blood vessels. They inject into the blood vessels a chemical called a contrast dye. This is used in cases such as in CT scan with contrast, coronary or heart x-ray. This enables the doctors to see specifically where there is a blocked blood vessel. Furthermore, they can see other problems in the other organs.
It is a procedure that is very significant for diagnosis. It will be impossible to see exactly your problem if it’s not done. They use the dye to see what they will be treating you for. However, this dye can have serious implications for the kidneys. The effect of this dye is referred to as induced nephropathy.
Studies indicate that between 1% and 3% of individuals who receive this dye, their kidneys are affected by it. Everyone is prone to it but the greatest risk falls on those with chronic kidney disease. If you have diabetes, the elderly and chronic heart failure, you risk having your kidneys affected. Although induced nephropathy is rare, you can prevent it from happening. It is vital for your doctors to check your kidneys before undergoing radiology procedures. This should be done even to those who don’t have any kidney problems.
There are various ways you can prevent this from affecting your kidneys. Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor to measure your kidney function. Ensuring that you strictly follow the instructions about drinking fluids before going for the tests will help you. Don’t delay to find out from the doctor when it would be suitable to stop taking certain painkillers.
There are some drugs that can cause kidney problems by reducing the blood flow to the kidneys. Contrast dye also decreases the kidney blood flow and these medications should not be used together. The kidneys are the unsung heroes of the human body. Without them, we can’t survive. It’s important to make the right decisions when it comes to the foods we eat and the lifestyles we lead, in order to allow them to function correctly.
16. Not addressing infections
A kidney infection is very painful. And it takes a long time to recover from. Your doctor will prescribe medication to cure kidneys that don’t favour taking medication. It becomes a vicious cycle and getting a kidney infection to clear up may take some time. In the meantime, you’ll be left feeling uncomfortable and in pain.
The quicker you recognize a kidney infection and deal with it; the easier and quicker your recovery will be. In most cases, a kidney infection is caused by a bladder infection. So, if you have a bladder infection, seek treatment before it spreads to your kidneys.
There are several signs and symptoms to look out for. Often, a kidney infection presents with similar symptoms to a bladder infection. You may experience a burning sensation when you urinate, and a constant ‘need to go’ to the toilet although you’ve just been. You’ll find yourself urinating more frequently. Your urine will be cloudy and have a distinct smell to it. Blood or pus in the urine is another sure sign that you have a kidney infection. You may feel feverish, and the kidney area will be very sensitive.
The longer you leave a kidney infection untreated, the more potential it has to cause permanent damage to your kidneys. Even viral infections in other parts of the body such as the flu can harm your kidneys.
Left untreated, such infections spread quickly, and the virus can attack the kidneys. When you have an infection, rest is essential for your recovery. Not resting makes your organs work harder to function normally and fight the infection off. The strain on your organs, such as the kidneys, can result in lasting damage that will affect your kidney function. This can be debilitating.
17. Not exercising
The National Kidney Foundation believes that exercise is critical for kidney function. Exercise lowers blood pressure, cholesterol, and body weight. It aids with sleeping and muscle function. All of these factors help the kidneys to function normally. Exercise helps the body to process nutrients and fluids. These are the key jobs the kidneys perform.
It is essential for people who are obese to exercise. Any weight they lose reduces their risk of kidney disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.
Those with an excess of salt in their diet can benefit from exercise and so can their kidneys. Salt causes raised blood pressure and affect how the kidneys function. The sweat that exercise produces is another way for the body to secrete salt. This can alleviate the kidneys as they don’t need to process all that salt.
A recent study into the incidences of kidney stones came up with interesting findings related to exercise. The study was conducted by the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle and was funded by the Women’s Health Initiative. 85,000 women aged 50 and over were monitored. Aspects of their diets, body mass index and exercise habits were scrutinized. After 8 years, there was a link established between exercise and a lowered incidence of kidney stones. Researchers said that the intensity of the exercise didn’t matter as much as the volume. It seems that any exercise is better than none.
People who exercise tend to make healthier food and lifestyle choices. All of these can be beneficial to the kidneys as well. Giving your kidneys a helping hand to keep them functioning is as simple as a brisk walk 2-3 times a week.
18. Not sleeping
Sleep is vital for the whole body. It gives a chance for the organs, muscles, and tissue a chance to regenerate and recharge. The kidneys are no different. They use the ‘downtime’ while we’re sleeping to process excess fluids and rest before the activities of the next day. The circadian clock is the body’s biorhythm pattern that distinguishes between sleep and wakefulness. The kidney is programmed to function differently during the night as the demands on it are different.
It seems that there is a correlation between declining kidney function and a lack of sleep in women. A study was conducted by researchers at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Women who were sleep-deprived were shown to experience a more rapid decline in kidney function. Those who got 5 hours’ sleep or less a night had a 65% higher risk of rapid kidney function decline. This was in comparison with women who were getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
The research excluded male subjects, but in all likelihood, the effects will be similar. What concerns academics is that, over the last 20 years, the average amount of sleep people get has decreased. About 20 years ago, an average night’s sleep consisted of 8 hours. In more recent years, it’s declined to 6.5 hours. And it’s expected to decrease even further. At this stage, experts recommend that adults get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.
The study did not prove that sleeping longer improves kidney function. Nor did it establish whether changing your sleeping pattern to include more sleep would reverse kidney damage. However, the fact that a lack of sleep could cause kidney failure in addition to heart disease and diabetes should give us all pause for thought.
19. Not going to the toilet
The feeling is familiar. You find yourself needing to go to the toilet but unable to. You don’t like using a public restroom at the mall. So, you resolve to hold it in until you get home. Or you have to attend to a customer and can’t go to the toilet right then. Many people hold in their urge to urinate until the very last moment before making a mad dash for the toilet. They do it for a variety of reasons. Some believe that it strengthens the bladder muscles. Others believe it helps them to put mind over matter. Whatever their justification maybe, the ugly truth is that holding it in is bad for your kidneys. It can damage them over the long term.
When the kidneys produce urine, they do so for the purpose of expelling and excreting toxins and other by-products from the body. Excess salt and other harmful substances need to be removed from the body as waste. When you ignore that ‘call of nature’ you do so at the peril of your kidneys.
The entire urinary tract is affected by a failure to empty your bladder when necessary. The toxins your kidneys were trying to flush may remain behind in the body when you finally go to the toilet. This can cause infection and other damage to the kidneys. In some cases, it gets so bad that the urine in the bladder can back up into your kidneys. This can cause infection as well.
It’s advisable to urinate as soon as your bladder tells you it’s time to go. If you find yourself urinating frequently or unable to control your bladder, see your doctor and get some help.
20. Not monitoring your blood pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is known as the ‘silent killer.’ Many people don’t find out they have it until it’s too late. Then the damage is already done, and it’s hard to reverse. When you have high blood pressure, your arteries and veins are pumping the blood in high volumes. This places pressure on the walls of the blood vessels. The blood vessels are damaged, sometimes permanently.
The blood vessels that lead to and from your kidneys may become damaged by high blood pressure. The kidney system is supplied with blood by a large network composed of many blood vessels. When high blood pressure damages these vessels, they cannot receive the oxygen and nutrients they need to filter the toxins from fluids in the body. Your kidneys also produce a hormone called aldosterone. This hormone helps to regulate your blood pressure. When your kidneys are damaged by high blood pressure, they cannot produce enough of this important hormone. A vicious cycle is created. It keeps perpetuating, with the kidneys becoming more damaged at each stage.
Low blood pressure, or hypotension, results in an inadequate flow of blood to the organs. This undersupply of blood also affects the nutrients and oxygen that the kidneys need to function well. The result is often a heart attack, kidney failure, or a stroke.
Your blood pressure, whether high or low, is essential. You must have your blood pressure tested at least once a year, if not more. If you have a family history of blood pressure problems, take precautions and track your blood pressure. Knowing that you have a blood pressure problem allows you to treat it before it can do severe damage to your organs.