Top 10 Habits that Cause Kidney Damage

Interested in preventing kidney disease? Here is my list of the top 10 habits that can cause kidney damage.

  1. Smoking

    If you are smoking cigarettes and/or are using other tobacco products, this significantly increases your risk of a ton of health complications! I won’t go into this too much (there is so much out there about the dangers of smoking), but if you want to do just ONE thing for your health to get the most “bang for your buck,” let it be this.

  2. Relying on Salt for Flavor

    Reaching for the salt shaker before you even taste your food? Too much salt can raise your risk of high blood pressure, AKA hypertension, which is one of the top causes of kidney disease. Before you add more salt to your meal, taste it and see if it even needs additional seasoning. And if it does - go crazy with other seasonings! Garlic, parsley, cilantro, red chili flakes, cumin,… the possibilities are endless!

  3. Forgetting Your Water Bottle

    If you are out and about running errands or are busy with work, you may be dehydrated. When we are busy, our brains are doing a million things, and we generally put drink water at the very bottom of our “to-do” list. Our bodies are made up of about 70% water, so it’s important we keep it that way! Especially when our kidneys are working 24/7 to filter everything.

  4. Not Taking Your Dog Out

    Your pet companion can be a great excuse to get outside and walk a bit, but don’t forget the benefits YOU can have when exercising! Getting some fresh air and light exercise is great for our heart health, which helps pump the blood to and through the kidneys!

  5. Over-using OTC Pain Relievers

    NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and high-dose aspirins may cause chronic kidney disease if taken heavily in the long term. If you find a need or reason to take these medications daily or often, consult your physician about the problem to see if there is another way to address and, hopefully, correct it.

    Note: people are often prescribed “baby aspirin” as a preventive measure against heart attacks. These are generally okay as the dose is very low. But if you are at all concerned about your medications, talk with your prescribing doctor about your concerns.

  6. Skipping Your Doctor Appointments

    PREVENTION IS KEY! Always go to your annual physician check-up to get the routine work done. Your health insurance will cover this appointment, and your doctor will be given the chance to warn you of anything that is starting to look a little out of range.

  7. Eating in Shades of Brown

    While there are great foods that are brown in color we should include in our diet (whole grain rice and pasta!), the American diet tends to focus a little too much on this color and less on the others. Aim for variety of colors in your diet to get the nutrients you need. In particular, eating more colors means more potassium - a mineral key in controlling blood pressure!

  8. Having “Cocktail Time” Too Often

    Sure, there may be health benefits in having a glass of red wine most evenings. But there are a lot of risks when happy hour turns into happy hours on the daily. Stick to 1 drink per day for women, 2 drinks for men.

  9. Becoming a Frequent Drive-Thru Diner

    If you find yourself going out to eat nearly daily, you may be significantly increasing your risk of kidney disease. Fast food and restaurant foods are usually packed with sodium and phosphorus. If you want more information about phosphorus, check out my blogs that cover it in a two-part series.

  10. Focusing on Convenience Over Quality

    Yes, sometimes you may need to put a little effort into your food. Convenience comes with a hefty price tag - and it’s usually in the form of your blood pressure, blood sugars, or waistline. Try adding in a serving of your favorite fresh fruit or vegetable at your next meal!

Don’t know where to start? Pick one of the concepts here, then pick a small goal to start. It can be as simple as ordering only the cheeseburger and skipping the soda, replacing the salt shaker at the dining room table with a no-salt herb blend, or letting Fido drag you around the block :) By knocking out some of these bad habits, you’ll be well on your way to preventing kidney damage and chronic kidney disease.

Trust me when I say it’s totally worth it. Your body, your health, your kidneys will thank you for it in the years to come. Invest in yourself, invest in your health.

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Disclaimer: Information provided by Jen Hernandez RD LLC is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information is intended for general consumer health and understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. Please consult with your doctor prior to starting or changing your diet or medications.