10 Common Habits You May Have that Damage Kidney Function

The steady decline of the kidneys can often go undetected, which is why kidney diseases are labeled as "Silent Killers".

There are plenty of factors that affect our kidney function negatively. Here are 10 common habits that can overwork the kidneys.

1. Lack of water intake

The most important and basic kidney function is to filter blood and eliminate the toxins and waste materials in the body. If your water intake is not enough during the day, the toxins and wastes starts to store that could lead to damaging your body.

The common advice is to drink about 6-8 glasses of water daily, but if you are already diagnosed with CKD, your doctor may suggest a new limit for you, depending on your CKD stage. Best thing to do is to listen to your doctor's recommendations.

2. Too much salt in your diet

If your salt consumption is too high, it increases the amount of urinary protein, which could lead to the development of kidney diseases. Furthermore, it may raise your blood pressure and put a lot of stress on your kidneys.

Advice: limit your daily salt/sodium intake to 1500 mg of salt.

3. Delaying the call of nature

When we find ourselves too busy doing something, we often delay or even ignore the call of nature. Or, when we're outside, we sometimes just don’t want to use public restrooms as much as possible.

If you keep allowing yourself to do this on a regular basis, it increases urine pressure in your bladder and kidneys, and this will eventually lead to kidney failure and kidney stones. So when nature calls, answer it.

4. Sleep deprivation

All those late-nights you spent when you were younger are taking their toll on your body now.

Did you know that when you sleep, your body repairs damaged tissues? Organs start to regenerate and replace their damaged tissues while your body is at rest, and that includes your kidneys.

And so, if you don’t get enough rest at night, you’re not allowing your body to heal and repair itself as it should. Always get the good night's sleep you deserve!

5. Use of analgesics

Analgesics (or analgaesics) are medicine/drugs that give you pain relief. In layman's terms, painkillers. They also often reduce fever and inflammation.

Apparently, though, these drugs, when taken excessively, can damage different organs of the body, including the kidneys. It can also reduce the blood flow and deteriorate kidney functions.

So, as much as possible, try to keep from taking these drugs so much, and opt for more organic/herbal solutions.

6. Coffee intake

Ah, coffee. A staple part of a typical household breakfast.

According to Zagat Blog's third-annual National Coffee Survey results, an average American drinks about 2.1 cups of coffee a day. That's about 16 ounces of coffee every day (more than 470ml).

But, unfortunately, like salt, caffeine also raises blood pressure. Excessive consumption of caffeine can add more stress and cause disruptions to your already-disrupted kidney functions.

You may love the taste, as much as the smell, of fresh coffee, but at least make sure you don’t drink more than one cup of coffee a day.

7. Alcohol intake

According to the National Kidney Foundation, part of the kidneys' main function, aside from filtering your body's wastes, is to regulate water in your systems. The rate of blood flow to your kidneys is usually kept at a certain level, too, so that your kidneys can filter your blood well.

However, excessive intake of alcohol can disrupt this balance, leading stress on the kidneys and the liver. Taking in too much alcohol dehydrates the body.

As a guideline, remember this: having more than 3-4 drinks a day (or about 7-14 per week) is already considered heavy drinking. So, if you can, lay low from drinking alcohol. 

8. High protein diet

Although protein is good for the health, overconsumption of this nutrient will make you more likely to develop kidney disease.

The kidneys are in charge of metabolizing and excreting nitrogen from protein digestion. By taking in too much protein, the metabolic load of the kidneys increase by increasing the glomerular pressure and hyper filtration, which gets your kidneys into overdrive and causes problems.

9. Smoking cigarettes

According to the American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP), smoking is a factor behind End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). That's because it increases heart blood, blood pressure, reduces blood flow, and tightens the blood vessels of the kidneys. In turn, it accelerates the loss of kidney functions and worsens any existing kidney diseases.

If you have this habit, then I suggest you start thinking hard on quitting. Here's an article that might help you on that front.

10. Overlooking common infections

If ever you find yourself sick with tonsillitis, pharyngitis, flu, even coughs and colds, you have to treat it directly. Ignoring common infections can affect your kidney function.

"Patients who come to the ICU with critical illness who also have kidney injury stay longer, take up more resources and have a much higher chance of dying," said Dr. Manish M. Sood, associate scientist of the Clinical Epidemiology Program of Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, on a study conducted during the H1N1 influenza A epidemic in 2010.

woman blowing nose on a tissue

So when you get sick, contact your doctor, get enough rest and consume antibiotics properly.

Consider changing these bad habits to help proper kidney function. Change one habit at a time to keep up with a healthy lifestyle.

Remember, if you are able to take control of your habits, you can take control of your life as well.

This is a good time to use the habit-changing tips from this article.

...Or, you could start with your path to kidney dieting with this FREE eBook!