You make healthy eating and lifestyle choices every day to help your digestive, heart and mental health, but how often do you consider your kidneys? Your everyday food and activity habits can lead to long-term damage and disease. Read on to find out how to maximize your kidney health.
How Drink Choices Affect Kidney Health
The main role of your kidneys is to filter your bloodstream and remove toxins, waste, dead cells, and excess water. Once properly filtered, waste leave the body in your urine. Your input of fluids affects your output of fluids — that’s why urine tests are the most common way doctors diagnose kidney injuries, damage or other diseases.
We’re sure you’ve heard it enough times by now – drink more water! It’s always been known that dehydration correlates to low kidney function however until recently, it was thought that rehydrating would fully restore kidney function. New research suggests that recurring dehydration can lead to chronic kidney disease.
Picking the Right Fluids
Knowing that dehydration hurts your kidneys, you may be tempted to turn to soft drinks as a source of more fluids. Unfortunately, drinking fructose-glucose-rich soda, and the additives in diet soda can actually damage your kidneys. Studies showed that patients who consumed naturally sweetened soft drinks showed an increased risk of chronic kidney disease. Check out this article about all the health risks of diet soda.
Lifestyle Habits That Damage your Kidneys
- Extensive studies have confirmed that using cigarettes and other products, such as smokeless tobacco, reduce kidney function.
- Long-term use of painkillers has been linked to a 50% increased risk of kidney cancer ! Chronic conditions like migraines or joint pain shouldn’t be treated with NSAIDs. Instead, talk to your doctor about safer long-term pain relief options.
- Over the counter medications
- Some OTC drugs have been linked to kidney damage, such as Aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen.
- Extreme exercise
- Surprisingly, extreme exercise habits can cause severe kidney damage. It’s dangerous stuff! It’s a good idea to speak with your medical practitioner about the safety of your fitness habits.
- Poor sleep
- A study of middle-aged people found that those who slept less than six hours a night, or more than ten hours including naps, experienced renal hyperfiltration, an early warning sign of kidney disease.
- Too much protein
- Renal hyperfiltration, the same symptom caused by poor sleep, is thought to be cause by a high-protein diet. It’s important to note that if you’re relatively healthy and have a high-protein diet (i.e., at least nothing below 2.2 g/kg), you should be safe. However, if someone is already living with chronic kidney disease, a high protein diet could cause complications.
- Too much sugar
- Just like drinking your sugar in the form of soda, eating a high-sugar diet can lead to the same problems. Stay away from too much candy, chocolate, and desserts, for kidney’s sake.
- Magnesium deficiency
- Magnesium has many roles to play in your body’s proper functioning. Read more about how magnesium deficiency can cause kidney stones.
Kidney Health Myths
Two common kidney health myths are circulating that have been refuted by scientific study:
- Firstly, some sources claim that drinking alcohol causes kidney damage.
- In a 2015 study, researchers found the opposite is true: the more participants reported drinking, the lower their risk of chronic kidney disease. However, there are other health problems with heavy alcohol consumption.
- Second, some people think that drinking coffee hurts your kidneys too.
- According to sources, this has been disproven. A 2017 study indicated no association between coffee consumption and risk of kidney disease.
How to Have Healthy Kidneys
The number one guideline for healthy kidneys is moderation… just like the rest of life! Since your kidneys’ primary function is to filter your blood of toxins and waste, you can help them by keeping the amount of waste and toxins low.
For more information about kidney health, check out this article on warning signs of kidney cancer.