1. Abusing the Salt Shaker
Diets high in sodium can increase blood pressure, which causes damage to the kidneys over time. Salt is an acquired taste that can be unlearned. By lowering your salt intake, in about 6-8 weeks you will get used to eating meals with much lower quantities of salt. Foods such as potato chips will being to taste way too salty.
2. Eating Processed Foods
Processed foods are significant sources of sodium, nitrates and phosphates, and have been linked to cancer, heart disease and kidney disease. Try adopting the DASH diet to guide your healthy eating habits.
3. Not Drinking Enough Water
Staying well hydrated helps your kidneys clear sodium and toxins from the body. Drinking plenty of water is also one of the best ways to avoid painful kidney stones. Those with kidney problems or kidney failure may need to restrict their fluid intake, but for most people, drinking 1.5 to 2 liters (3 to 4 pints) of water per day is a healthy target.
4. Overusing Painkillers
Over the counter pain medicines, such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), may alleviate your aches and pains, but they can harm the kidneys, especially if you already have kidney disease. Reduce your regular use of NSAIDs and never go over the recommended dosage.
5. Missing Out on Sleep
A good night’s rest is extremely important to your overall well-being and, it turns out, your kidneys. Kidney function is regulated by the sleep-wake cycle which helps coordinate the kidneys’ workload over 24 hours. Research shows that people who sleep less usually have faster kidney function decline.
6. Drinking Too Much Coffee
Limiting caffeine intake is especially important if you have high blood pressure, which is the second leading cause of kidney disease and also increases your risk for heart attack and stroke.
7. Having a Killer Sweet Tooth
Sugar contributes to obesity which increases your risk of developing high blood pressure and diabetes, two of the leading causes of kidney disease. In addition to desserts, sugar is often added to foods and drinks that you may not consider “sweet.” Avoid condiments, breakfast cereals, and white bread which are all sneaky sources of processed sugar. Pay attention to the ingredients when buying packaged goods to avoid added sugar in your diet.
8. Lighting Up
Sure, smoking isn't good for your lungs or your heart. But did you know that smoking isn't good for your kidneys either? People who smoke are more likely to have protein in the urine – a sign of kidney stress. The more someone smokes, the more likely they are to show kidney damage.
9. Drinking Alcohol in Excess
Regular heavy drinking – more than four drinks a day – has been found to double the risk chronic kidney disease. Heavy drinkers who also smoke have an even higher risk of kidney problems. Smokers who are heavy drinkers have about five times the chance of developing chronic kidney disease than people who don’t smoke or drink alcohol to excess.
10. Sitting Still
Sitting for long periods of time has now been linked to the development of kidney disease. Although researchers don’t know yet why or how sedentary time or physical activity directly impact kidney health, it’s clear that less sitting is associated with increased cardiovascular health marked by improved blood pressure and glucose metabolism, both important factors in kidney health.