The National Kidney Foundation reveals that more than 90,000 Americans die of kidney disease every year. The number is higher compared to that of both prostate and breast cancer. Needless to say, our kidneys are very important in living a long, healthy life. You can keep them healthy and prevent kidney disease by making even small changes in your sleep habits and diet.
Replace Salt With Herbs
Food tastes better with the addition of salt, but the balance in our blood can also be upset because of it. Our kidneys need to work much harder in removing water from our bodies. The Journal of Clinical Hypertension researched in 2018 which proved that too much salt intake can directly cause kidney disease. Limiting sodium intake to a teaspoon per day is recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), but the average American consumes three times as much.
Limit Your Intake Of Painkillers
The New England Journal of Medicine did a study that found that each year, 5,000 kidney failure cases in America result from heavy use of painkillers, such as Advil or Tylenol. It is most dangerous to take a painkiller after you have been fasting. Painkillers are bad because they cause a reduction in the blood going to the kidneys, which after some time, can cause significant stress on your kidneys. However, popping an occasional painkiller for backache or headache is generally okay.
Don’t Underestimate A Cold
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states on its website that the average person catches a cold two or three times a year. While colds seem harmless and nothing but annoying, you should not think of them as if they are nothing. Your body produces more antibodies if you don’t treat colds and over time, these antibodies will start to become unhealthy for your kidneys. If you feel sick, see a doctor; don’t just stay home from work like 72 percent of Americans.
Don’t Wait To Use The Restroom
Did you know that one of the primary causes of kidney problems is holding in the urge to pee? Bacteria can multiply in the urine, which shouldn’t be in the body anymore. The longer the urine sits, the more bacteria will grow. This bacteria eventually makes its way to the kidneys, and no one wants that. If you have to go, just go. Your kidneys will thank you.
Say Goodbye To Those Cigarettes
It’s no secret that smoking is bad for the lungs and the heart, but were you aware that it is also very bad for the kidneys? According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2000, current and former chain smokers are at a higher risk of having kidney disease. The use of things like cigarettes causes creatinine production in the body, which is a harmful substance to the kidneys. The chances of developing kidney disease are slightly lower for former smokers compared to current smokers, so don’t think that it’s too late to quit.
Try To Avoid Processed Foods
Companies often add a huge amount of sodium to make food keep for longer, but this is dangerous for our kidney health. Besides sodium, processed foods can also have other ingredients that the body should not be consuming in large amounts. These ingredients include phosphorus and potassium, which can be damaging if we take in too much. Kidneys filter through potassium levels, so too much potassium can be extremely stressful on the organ. We should limit the number of processed foods that we eat.
Stay Away From Soda
Soda, unlike some fruit drinks, has zero nutrients and only provides sugar to the body. Did you know that a 12-ounce soda has roughly the same amount of sugar as three and a half donuts? It has been proven by research that consuming two or more sodas a day will increase your risk for kidney disease by a hundred percent. However, the issue isn’t just sugar because soda is also high in phosphoric acid, which can increase your risk of having kidney problems as well.
Get Enough Sleep
Researchers from the University of Chicago found out that poor sleeping habits can cause an increased risk for kidney disease. The people who slept for 6.5 hours a day increased their chances of kidney failure by 19 percent compared to those that had a full-night’s sleep. Your kidneys stay up late when you stay up late. The lack of sleep can exhaust the kidneys over time and this can lead to kidney failure.
Don’t Stop A Prescription Early
We know quitting your prescription early when you start to feel better is tempting, but it’s a terrible idea. Stopping a prescription despite your illness not having been completely cured is bad for the kidneys. Taking medications that help control blood pressure or pain sporadically rather than regularly can severely damage the kidneys, which love routine. Changing your medication routine often will confuse your body.
Do Your Homework On Supplements
Taking daily supplements of vitamins is completely normal, but what many people don’t realize is that some of these supplements have high dosages. Any vitamin can be harmful if you take too much of it. When it comes to your kidneys, the most dangerous supplements to take too much of are licorice, cranberry, willow bark, geranium, wormwood oil, and vitamin C. The risk for kidney stones drastically increases if too much cranberry or vitamin C is taken. Even supplements like the all-natural turmeric can be harmful if taken with some medicine.
Keep Your Exercise Routine In-Tact
Exercising doesn’t only improve your physical health, but also your internal health. The National Kidney Foundation says that regular exercise enhances muscle function, improves sleep habits, and lowers blood pressure. These things come together and help lower the risk of kidney disease. You don’t need to do something like you are joining a marathon; you just need 150 minutes a week of light exercises like walking or biking.
Exercise In Moderation
Exercise is healthy, but it is also not good if you work yourself too hard. You might be surprised to learn that it is possible to work yourself to death. If your workout is too harsh, your body cannot handle it and when several muscles are injured at a time, enzymes are released which are harmful to your kidneys. This causes kidney failure four times out of ten and this rare but extremely dangerous condition is called Rhabdomyolysis. Most cases of Rhabdo happen during the first exercise class of someone who doesn’t know their body’s limits, so it is better to keep in mind that muscles are built up slowly and going all out on the first day is not the way to go.
Go Easy On Energy Drinks
The FDA has received demands from scientists to regulate the ingredients found in energy drinks, but the agency has not made changes yet. According to a study by Frontiers in Public Health, there is a close link between energy drink consumption and kidney disease, especially in young children. Too much caffeine causes stress levels and blood pressure to rise, which can result in kidney disease. There is also another risk in energy drinks – the high levels of taurine, which can be extremely dangerous to people with kidney disorders.
Are You Getting Enough Water Each Day?
The main job of our kidneys is to filter out water from the body, so it is a big must to stay hydrated. The National Hydration Council revealed that chronic dehydration is the most common cause of kidney stones. The lack of water causes urine to have a higher mineral concentration, and these minerals can crystalize in the kidneys, creating stones. Although there is nothing specific when it comes to how much water a person should drink, an estimate of 13 cups for men and nine for women is about average.
Watch Your Red Meat Intakes
Occasionally eating red meat is not unhealthy, but too much red meat can harm your kidneys over time. According to the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, red meat is toxic for your kidneys when consumed too often. Plant-based proteins, on the other hand, repair kidney injury. Consuming a serving of plant-based protein instead of red meat per week will result in a 62 percent decrease in your risk for developing kidney disease
Get Those Legs Moving
If you do not move a lot in your job, you may want to think of how many times you stand up in a day. In a research study in 2018, it was discovered that one hour of physical activity in a day can significantly reduce the risk of kidney failure. Although it isn’t certain why the chances for kidney disease increases when you sit down a lot, some researchers believe it is linked to do the levels of blood glucose and cholesterol. Therefore, stand up more to have healthier kidneys.
Reduce Butter Habits
Recently, there have been people who are advocating for the use of margarine instead of butter. If you value your kidneys, do not buy into this idea since margarine is still harmful despite having different ingredients. The fats that are in both margarine and butter raise your cholesterol and this harms your kidneys. Butter in small amounts isn’t harmful, but it is definitely better if you don’t eat it every day.
During the holidays, people can easily forget how much food they should eat in one meal. Your kidneys can get seriously strained by overeating since they have to sort through more food. The overeating combination that is the most lethal is consuming too much fat, carbs, and protein together. Since most holiday dinners have all these three, it’s important to pay close attention to what you put in your body.
Try To Lower Stress Levels
Did you know that you can easily develop kidney disease if you regularly experience high levels of stress? According to research, stress harms your kidneys, though it is not clear yet why that is. Some think that because stress raises blood pressure, the kidneys can become scarred over time. High levels of stress also lead to sleep deprivation and undereating, which can be a reason for distressed kidneys. Manage your stress before it begins to affect your physical health.
Use A Sugar Substitute
Sugar in small amounts is not that harmful to your kidneys. However, when your blood sugar levels rise, there is cause for concern since your kidneys are forced to filter a lot of blood when you have high blood sugar or diabetes. Research conducted at the University of Montreal revealed that a strong tie exists between kidney disease and diabetes; kidney disease can be cause by diabetes, and vice versa. To prevent getting either of these diseases, lower your sugar intake and regularly check your glucose.
Artificial Sweeteners Also Aren’t So Good
The calorie count may be lower if you use Splenda instead of sugar, but artificial sweeteners are actually doing your body more harm than good. In 2009, a study revealed that drinking diet kind instead of regular soda actually increases your risk for kidney disease by thirty percent. Although research shows that your kidneys won’t really be harmed if you have two or fewer artificially-sweetened treats in a day, there is still a need for more detailed research on this. Try honey or Stevia instead of reaching for Splenda next time.
If you drink alcohol, your kidneys to essentially need to work overtime so that they could filter out the harmful stuff you’re ingesting, which makes overdrinking very harmful. Consuming more than four alcoholic drinks a day is classified as overdrinking. At the same time, there is also research that shows consuming one glass of alcohol a day (seven drinks in a week) could actually cause a thirty percent reduction in your kidney disease risk, so drink in moderation.
Steer Clear Of Body Enhancements
Steroids and body enhancement medication may improve muscle strength, but they destroy your kidneys as well. Research shows 90 percent of bodybuilders developed scarring because of taking muscle enhancement medications. After some time they stopped using the medications, their kidneys regained their health. Also, steroids can lower blood protein levels, raise your cholesterol, and cause some swelling in your body, which are all harmful to your kidneys.
Monitor Your Heartburn Medication
Some heartburn medicine are okay to take on a daily basis, but proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) aren’t one of them. Research indicates that these drugs, which act by suppressing acid in the stomach, can harm your kidneys. Frequently taking PPIs will cause a 26 percent increase in your risk for kidney disease. Other kinds of heartburn medications, like H2 Blockers, don’t bring about these harmful side effects. You may want to consider taking an H2 Blocker instead if you regularly take heartburn medication.
Check Up On Your Blood Pressure Levels
There is a reason why blood pressure is called “the silent killer” – it shows no symptoms if something isn’t right. It is recommended by the American Heart Association to have your blood pressure checked every two years, at least, since high blood pressure is really harmful to your blood vessels found inside your kidneys. When these blood vessels fail, the kidneys cannot regulate your blood pressure, which can lead to your blood pressure rising very quickly.
You Don’t Need So Much Coffee
It is not harmful to drink a cup of coffee every day, but having many cups is. Caffeine increases blood pressure levels drastically and quickly, which can harm your kidneys if taken in very high quantities. Although research has not confirmed the amount of coffee that can be considered too much, it is better if you are aware of these effects. According to the National Kidney Foundation, the limit should be four cups per day. Aside from this, be careful of the additives in coffee like flavored syrup or cream, as these have a high sugar and fat content.
Don’t Eat Too Much Shellfish
Sometimes seafood give major health benefits, but consuming too much shellfish will hurt your kidneys over time. According to research found in the 2014 Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, shellfish contains the chemical domoic acid, which can be harmful, if not toxic. “Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning” can cause your kidneys to get severely injured. The acid is still harmful to your kidneys even in small amounts, so eating some types of seafood can actually be harmful.
Medical Photos Can Be Harmful
Most people don’t get MRIs in general, but be aware that the dye they use in this procedure can hurt your kidneys. One of the side effects of these dyes is Contrast Induced Nephropathy (CIN), a disease which causes the kidneys to fail for as long as three days. Thankfully, the condition is reversible, but the disease is still dangerous.
Stick To Only The Good Kinds Of Fat
To be healthy, our bodies also need healthy fats, which are monosaturated and polyunsaturated. The bad fats that we should steer clear from are trans fats, often found in foods that are processed like creamers and refrigerated dough. A study carried out for the British Medical Journal found that unsaturated fats aren’t harmful to the heart, though trans fat increases our risk for diseases by 21 percent.
One Drink Per Day Can Be Healthy
In 2001, the Postgraduate Medical Journal published the findings of research that analyzed over 100 studies. It was concluded that moderate drinking reinforces heart health. While one drink a day helps reduce your risk for heart disease, too much drinking increases your risk drastically. One drink is around five ounces of wine or a 12-ounce beer.
Sleep For Seven Or More Hours
For over a decade, researchers studied the habits of people and published their findings in 2014. The study revealed that sleeping at night for at least seven hours will significantly increase the likelihood of having a disease-free and healthy heart. Deep sleep releases chemicals that lower your blood pressure and heart rate. If you don’t getting enough sleep, you increase your risk for heart problems by 58 percent.
Keep Your Stress In Check
When you are very stressed, your heart rate gets faster, your breaths get shorter, and your muscles get tenser. Chronic stress eats away at your heart after some time, even if you don’t have any prior risk for heart problems. Feeling stress or anxiety is normal but having chronic stress problems is not; chronic stress has terrible effects on the health of your heart. Doing 10 to 15 minutes of stress-relieving activities per day can significantly help.
Eat More Fruits And Veggies
Studies show that about 2.5 cups of veggies and fruits or five servings a day can lower your heart disease risk. 10 servings can reduce your risk for developing diseases by 28 percent and your risk for dying prematurely by 31 percent.
Cut Back On The TV Binging
For two decades, researchers studied 70,000 women and in 2015, they released their findings. At the beginning, nearly every woman had diabetes or heart disease, but by the end, many of them reduced their risk for a heart attack by 92 percent! They all did the same thing – they cut their TV watching time to seven hours in a week. Too much time spent watching TV means less time for exercising; it’s that simple. TV watching for four hours a day is actually worse for you compared to sitting at a desk all day.
Exercise For Fifteen Minutes Each Day
Exercise is definitely great for the body. It can reduce your stress levels, strengthen your heart, and lower your blood pressure. The American Journal of Medicine authors studied exercise intensity needs and they said that exercising ever day for just 15 minutes can already drastically improve your lifespan. Even if you just do 15 minutes of some type of physical activity, you can lower your risk for a heart attack and stroke.
Being Social Can Help Your Heart
Research actually shows that having a group of friends and a fulfilling and healthy social life can reduce your heart disease risk. Boston Scientific researchers believe that stress and depression can be reduced by having positive social interactions. Stress and depression can be heart disease risks, so perhaps you should reconsider the next time you think of cancelling plans with friends.
Drink Plenty Of Water
Drinking not less than five glasses of water in a day will help improve heart health drastically. If you drink less than two glasses a day, this will weaken your heart in the long run, which can lead to heart diseases. The heart has to work harder to pump thick blood through your body, which means the organ will get more tired. Drinking more water will reduce your blood viscosity and decrease the strain on the heart muscles.
Stand Up Frequently
In 2015, 41 studies found that sitting all day causes a significant increase in your risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. In a 2019 study, research revealed that standing for an hour each day causes a 26 percent decrease in your risk for heart disease. Some of the things you can do are taking short walks throughout the day (to get some water to drink, to the bathroom, etc.), getting a standing desk, or parking your car a bit farther away to get a chance to walk more.
Measure Blood Pressure
Scientific studies have revealed that heart disease is mainly caused by high blood pressure. Hypertensive heart disease means your arteries are narrowed and your heart is thickened and this disease is caused by high blood pressure. The American Heart Association advocates putting high blood pressure at the top of everyone’s healthcare priorities list. You should always try to avoid it, because anyone can always get it.
Always Check Up On Yourself
If you have not checked your blood sugar, cholesterol, or blood pressure for more than a year, then it is long overdue. It is recommended that you check your cholesterol once in four to six years, your blood glucose once in three years, and your blood pressure every year. Never assume that you aren’t at risk for developing harmful diseases. Even if you look healthy, you still have to monitor your risks for health problems.
Know What Your BMI Should Be
According to study in JAMA Cardiology in 2018, a high BMI (Body Mass Index) can increase your risk for heart disease. It is better to ask your doctor about your BMI since height and weight are not the only factors that go into this. Then, try to lead a healthy lifestyle which can help you stay in that range.
Brush Your Teeth Every Day
Did you know that heart disease and gum disease have similar health risks? According to Harvard Health, bacteria in your gums can go to your blood vessels, inflaming the arteries and forming blood clots which increase your likelihood for a stroke. The American Heart Association in 2012 made a statement that gum disease will not always harm your heart, but it is still better to brush twice and floss once day.
E-Cigarettes Are Extremely Harmful
An e-cigarette may seem safer than an actual one, but according to a BMJ research author, “no safe level of smoking exists for cardiovascular disease”. In 2017, a study showed that smoking even one cigarette a day may lead to stroke and heart disease. E-cigarettes in no way reduce these odds, but rather increase your likelihood for developing coronary artery disease and having a heart attack, as well as having emotional distress.
Stay Away From Secondhand Smoke
A study published by Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects reveals that inhaling secondhand smoke cause a 30 percent increase in your risk for heart disease. Try to limit your exposure to smoke, whether it’s you who is smoking or you are next to a person who is smoking.
Vitamins and Minerals
Eating a healthy diet of whole foods and fresh fruits and vegetables is important for good overall health and kidney function. Mineral and vitamin deficiencies like Vitamin C, B6, and D, can actually increase the chances of kidney stones or kidney failure. Vitamin B6 and magnesium, for example, are really important in lowering the risk for kidney stones.
Many say that about avocados are really nutritious, healthy, and good for the heart because of their antioxidants fats, fiber, and good, but it is better for people with kidney disease to stay away from them. This is because avocados have high potassium content. People who have to limit their potassium intake should avoid avocados and guacamole.
Canned foods like beans, vegetables, and soups typically contain very high amounts of sodium as shelf life is increased with the addition of salt. People with kidney disease should limit or completely avoid the consumption of canned foods. Going for lower-sodium foods or the ones with the “no salt added” label is normally the best. You can also reduce the amount of sodium in canned foods, such as canned beans and tuna, by 33 to 80 percent if you drain and rinse the product.
People with kidney disease may find choosing the right bread confusing. Even though whole wheat bread is the more nutritious choice for being rich in fiber, people with kidney disease are normally recommended to choose white bread. This is because whole wheat bread contains plenty of phosphorus and potassium. The more whole grains and bran in the bread, the higher the levels of these minerals. There is also a high amount of sodium in most breads, either whole wheat or not.
Brown rice is high in potassium and phosphorus compared to white rice. Some better substitutes for rice are couscous, buckwheat, pearled barley, and bulgur since they are nutritious but contain less phosphorus.
Bananas naturally have low sodium content, but one medium banana actually contains 422 mg of potassium. Unfortunately, plenty of other tropical fruits contain a high amount of potassium. Even so, there is much less potassium in pineapples than in other tropical fruits, so pineapples are a more suitable alternative.
Dairy products have all kinds of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, including potassium, phosphorus and protein, but consuming a lot of dairy, especially with other foods that are rich in phosphorus, can be detrimental to a person’s bone health if they have kidney disease. When kidneys do not work properly, consumption of too much phosphorus can result in a phosphorus buildup in the blood, which makes your bones weak and thin over time and increase your risk for fracture or bone breakage. Dairy alternatives, like almond milk and unenriched rice milk, make good substitutes since they are much lower in phosphorus, potassium, and protein.
This particular infection causes your body to produce proteins called antibodies which fight the infection. Extra antibodies can settle in your kidneys, which results in the organs becoming inflamed. Normally, it doesn’t last long, but for some people, they have permanent kidney damage.
Take Care With Antibiotics
Bacteria fighting drugs or antibiotics can damage the kidneys when used too often. Even if a person is perfectly healthy, it can still happen but it’s more serious for those people who have kidneys that are not working well. Some antibiotics like cephalosporins, sulfonamides, and penicillin, are likely to cause problems.
It’s highly important to know about your kidney disease risk. It’s more likely if you or a close relative has heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, or someone in the family who had kidney failure. Specific kidney tests may be suggested by your doctor as part of your checkup. It’s easier to treat if you catch it soon, and sometimes it may even be cured.
Oranges and Orange Juice
When people think of oranges and orange juice, they think of the vitamin C contents, but did you know that oranges and orange juice also contain high amounts of potassium? Some good substitutes are cranberries, grapes, and apples and their juices as they have lower levels of potassium.
Pickles, Olives, and Relish
Cured or pickled foods, such as like relish, olives, and pickles, typically have very high salt contents since salt is part of the pickling or curing process. One pickle actually contains over 300 mg of sodium while five green pickled olives contain roughly 195 mg of sodium. Although reduced-sodium options for relish, olives, and pickles are available in many grocery stores, keep in mind that reduced-sodium options still contain high amounts of sodium.
Apricots have high levels of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, and potassium. There is 427 mg of potassium in a cup of fresh apricots while there is over 1,500 mg of potassium in a cup of dried apricots. It’s best for people who have kidney disease to stay away from apricots, especially dried ones.
Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes
Potatoes and sweet potatoes contain high amounts of potassium. Thankfully, you can reduce the potassium contents of potatoes and sweet potatoes by soaking or leaching them. You can reduce the amount of potassium in potatoes by around 50 percent when you cut them into small, thin pieces and boil them for at least 10 minutes. Potatoes soaked in water for a minimum of 4 hours before cooking contain even lower amounts of potassium than those that are not soaked.
Tomatoes are another fruit that is high in potassium. Served raw or stewed, tomatoes are commonly used to make sauces. A cup of tomato sauce has over 900 mg of potassium. Taste preference is the main factor in finding an alternative with lower amounts of potassium. However, an equally delicious alternative that has less potassium is roasted red pepper sauce.
Processed foods often contain extremely high amounts of sodium. Packaged, pre-made and instant meals are generally the most processed, so they have the highest levels of sodium. Things like instant noodles, microwaveable meals, and frozen pizza can be the worst. It can be quite a challenge to keep your sodium intake less than 2,000 mg per day if you eat processed foods regularly.
Swiss Chard, Spinach and Beet Greens
Green leafy vegetables like beet greens, spinach, and swiss chard all have high amounts of nutrients and minerals, such as potassium. When served raw, a cup of these vegetables can have 140-290 mg of potassium. Even if leafy vegetables shrink when cooked, their potassium content does not change.
Dates, Raisins, and Prunes
Common dried fruits include raisins, dates, and prunes. Dried fruits have concentrated nutrients, which includes potassium. There is 1,274 mg of potassium in a cup of prunes. That amount of potassium is almost five times the amount in a cup of plums.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
Many processed foods contain GMOs or genetically modified organisms. The lack of studies makes it unclear what long-term health effects GMO crops have on humans, but studies on animals suggests that GMOs are related to serious health effects, including changes in organs, such as the kidneys. It is almost impossible not to eat these foods, but people are advised to consume more fresh and healthy foods, and processed foods should be eaten in moderation.
Peanuts contain oxalates – a mineral that is found in kidney stones. According to the National Kidney Foundation, the most common kind of kidney stones are calcium oxalate ones. If you have suffered from kidney stones of that kind in the past, it is best that you limit your consumption of food with oxalates to reduce your risk for having another stone.