11 days ago

Lifestyle habits that impact kidney health

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Kidneys are crucial to keep our body healthy. They are the primary organs to filter out waste products. They also play a key role in producing red blood cells, regulating the mineral level and keeping the blood pressure within physiological limits. A healthy kidney is, therefore, critical for us. And we must be aware of the lifestyle habits that could compromise it.

Excess salt in the diet is unhealthy for many reasons, including kidney damage. Generally, the intake should not be more than 2000 mg. If more, kidneys need to work extra hard to clear it out, putting a lot of strain on it. This may lead to hypertension and, eventually, chronic kidney disease.

Sugar is another detrimental element. Too much sugar has been linked with obesity, diabetes and hypertension, all of which are risk factors for kidney problems. So, foods containing processed sugars, e.g., condiments, breakfast cereals, white bread, etc., should be limited or removed from the diet.

Hydration is key to kidney health. Dehydration could cause acute injury to the kidney and is one of the reasons for kidney stones. A regular adult should drink at least 1.5 to 2 litres of water every day unless fluid restriction has been imposed by physicians for specific conditions.

We should also keep our daily protein consumption to 1.6gm/kg of our body weight. Otherwise, this may lead to a condition called renal acidosis. This can be avoided by eating a balanced diet. Fast foods, part and parcel of the modern world, are another danger to the kidney, especially if it becomes a daily habit. These foods are highly processed and can cause diabetes and hypertension, both prevalent causes of kidney failure.

Not having adequate sleep has also been identified as a factor for poor kidney health. According to Dr Ciaran McMullan from Brigham and Women's Hospital of Boston, regular and adequate sleep is essential to coordinate daily kidney functions. Not having enough of it will cause a decline in kidney health.

We all know alcohol is bad for health; it is the same for the kidneys. The same goes for smoking. Smoking hampers the blood supply to the kidneys, depriving them of nutrients and precipitating failure. This can be a risk factor for renal cancer as well.

Many medications can potentially harm kidneys, especially NSAIDs like Aspirin, Naproxen, and Ibuprofen. Many of us use NSAIDs almost daily for any type of pain. This is a dangerous practice and should be avoided. Too much NSAIDs result in an analgesic nephropathy condition, which may even necessitate dialysis. Patients with diabetes and hypertension are at particularly high risk. Substance abuse is also a major factor. Things like heroin, cocaine and many other drugs could potentially cause significant kidney damage.

Not enough movement and excess movement are both bad for the kidneys. Researchers from Yonsei University in Korea demonstrated that a sedentary lifestyle could hasten kidney disease. They explained that being active increases blood flow to the kidneys, ensuring proper nutrients and functioning. However, being active does not mean we need to indulge in excess strenuous exercise. In fact, too much exercise is bad, as it can break our muscles down, releasing toxic chemicals damaging to the kidneys.

To avoid kidney problems, we should maintain a healthy lifestyle. A balanced diet, proper exercise, adequate sleep, avoiding smoking and alcohol, and taking medication as prescribed by the physician are all important preventive steps.

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