Your kidneys are very important organs that filter toxins and other waste products from your blood, produce urine and hormones, and maintain levels of minerals in your bloodstream amongst other functions.
As with all your vital organs, it is extremely important that you do all that you can to take care of your kidneys in order to reduce the risk chronic disease and other harmful conditions, such as kidney stones. This doesn’t mean taking drastic precautionary measures or changing your lifestyle in any major way. Keeping your kidneys healthy can simply involve avoiding a few common things that are known to be harmful.
One of the most common things you eat that can be harmful to your kidneys is salt. Salt is a mineral compound of sodium chloride, and sodium can be unhealthy if consumed in excess. It is important for controlling blood pressure, but too much sodium increases blood pressure, which in turn can harm your kidneys.
Most of us each too much salt. Health guidelines specify that we should eat no more than 6 grams of it a day, which is not much at all – about 1.25 teaspoons. A great way to reduce your intake is to check the packaging of the food you eat. Many processed and packaged foods contain large amounts of sodium, so eating fresh produce is a great way to curb your intake.
Some common non-prescription medication, such as ibuprofen, can cause kidney damage if taken regularly and for a prolonged period of time. If they are taken occasionally to manage pain, such a period pain or headaches, and your kidneys are healthy, they shouldn’t pose a risk. But if they are taken regularly to manage chronic pain or another condition. You should discuss kidney health with your doctor.
Excess alcohol consumption can affect your body in a number of ways, including your kidneys, especially if you already have kidney disease or a condition. When you drink alcohol, your kidneys work hard to filter it out of your blood, which can affect kidney function overall. Drinking alcohol can also disrupt your kidneys’ ability to balance the level of water in your body, resulting in dehydration. It can also cause high blood pressure, which in turn affects the kidneys.
A drink or two a day every other day is not going to be harmful, but binge drinking on a regular basis will increase the risk of chronic kidney disease, so watch how much you drink.
Smoking is harmful to your body in a number of ways, and many of these can harm the kidneys. Firstly it increases blood pressure and heart rate, while reducing blood flow in the kidneys. It also narrows the blood vessels in the kidneys and damages arterioles (branches of arteries). It also increases the risk of kidney and bladder cancer. Overall, smoking contributes to the loss of kidney function and you should talk to your doctor about quitting.
Eating too much red meat can take a toll on the kidneys and increase the risk for chronic kidney disease. Red meat is very high in protein, and studies suggest that your kidneys need to work hard to clear the metabolites of protein from your body, leading to increased strain on the kidneys. If you already suffer from poor kidney health, eating less red meat is particularly important. Health professionals suggest turning to plant-based sources of protein. Poultry and fish are also recommended.
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