15 Common Habits That Can Damage Your Kidneys

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15 Common Habits That Can Damage Your Kidneys

Did you know that you can live a pretty normal life with only 20% of your kidney function? That is why a steady decline and gradual damage to your kidneys can often go unnoticed for a long time. Sometimes, even common habits can cause damage to your kidneys and when the problems are finally discovered, it can be too late.

Our kidneys are an amazing organ. They produce hormones, filter blood, absorb minerals, produce urine and maintain a healthy acid-alkaline balance. There is no life without the kidneys, and the Chinese view them as the seat of essential life energy.

Looking after your kidneys goes hand in hand with looking after your health and well-being. If you want your kidneys to thrive and serve you well for the foreseeable future, here is a list of habits you should avoid:

1. The Sugary Soda Habit – A study carried out on employees at Osaka University in Japan suggested that drinking two or more soda drinks a day (diet or regular) may be connected with a higher risk of kidney disease. 12,000 employees were included in the study, and those that consumed larger amounts of soda were more likely to have protein in their urine. Protein in urine (proteinuria) is an early sign of kidney damage, but, when discovered at that stage, the disease can still be reversible.

2. Smoking – Smoking has been linked to arthrosclerosis. The narrowing and hardening of blood vessels affects the blood supply to all vital organs, including the kidneys. According to the study published in Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, two cigarettes a day are enough to double the number of endothelial cells present in your blood. This is a signal of arterial damage. Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology cites many different studies conducted since 2003 which all link smoking to decreased kidney function.

Further reading: smoking is one of the bad habits mentioned in my previous article about 10 habits to stop right now if you want to be healthy.

3. Vitamin B6 deficiency – A healthy diet is important for good kidney function. According to the studies performed at the University of Maryland Medical Center, vitamin B6 deficiency increases your risk of kidney stones. For optimal kidney function, you should consume at least 1.3 milligrams of vitamin B6 daily. The richest sources of this vitamin include fish, chickpeas, beef liver, potatoes and starchy vegetables, and non-citrus fruits.

4. Lack of exercise – Exercise is another good way to protect your kidneys. A large study published in 2013 in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology suggested that postmenopausal women who exercised had 31% lower risk of developing kidney stones. Generally speaking, maintaining a healthy weight will reduce your chances of kidney stones, so get moving.

Further reading: Read my article about how to treat kidney stones naturally.


5. Magnesium deficiency – If you don’t get enough magnesium, calcium can’t get properly absorbed and assimilated, which can result in calcium overload and kidney stone formation. To prevent that, consume green leafy vegetables, beans, seeds and nuts. The mighty avocado is a good source of magnesium as well.

Further reading: Find here the top signs that you have magnesium deficiency and what to do about it.

6. Frequent sleep disruption – We all like a good night’s sleep. And so do our kidneys. Science Daily reports that chronic sleep disruption can cause kidney disease. According to Dr. Michael Sole, Cardiologist and founding director of the Peter Munk Cardiac Center and Professor of Medicine and Physiology at the University of Toronto, kidney tissue gets renewed during the night, so sleep interruptions can cause direct damage to this organ.

Further reading: find 23 dangers of sleep deprivation in my previous article.

7. Not drinking enough water – Our kidneys need to get properly hydrated to perform their functions. If we don’t drink enough, the toxins can start accumulating in the blood, as there isn’t enough fluid to drain them through the kidneys. The National Kidney Foundation suggests drinking at least 12 glasses of water per day. An easy way to see if you’re drinking enough is to check the color of your urine.

Further reading: Find here the best foods and herbs to cleanse your kidneys.

8. Not emptying your bladder early – When nature calls, you should listen. Retaining urine in your bladder is a bad idea. If done on regular basis, it can increase the urine pressure in your kidneys and lead to renal failure or incontinence.


9. Consuming too much sodium – Salt is important for the body, but you should limit your intake. Over consumption can raise your blood pressure and put too much strain on the kidneys. No more than 5.8 grams of salt should be eaten daily, so take it easy with that salt shaker.

Further reading: Read my article about different types of salt and their benefits.

10. Consuming too much caffeine – We often consume more caffeine than we think we do. It features in many soft drinks and sodas, and before you know it, your blood pressure goes through the roof and your kidneys start complaining.

11. Pain-killer abuse – Way too often we take medications too fast, in too big doses and not in the right way. When pain occurs, it’s so easy to just swallow the pill. But, you should think twice. All pharmaceutical drugs come with side effects, and many cause damage to the kidneys. Having said that, there are some drugs that you should be taking. See the next point.


12. Missing your drugs – High blood pressure and type 2 diabetes are two very common conditions that are often brought on by our life style and unhealthy diet. If you already have them, be aware of the damage they can cause to your kidneys and protect your precious organs by taking the prescribed medications.

Further reading: read my articles about the best 12 foods to control diabetes and how to reduce high blood pressure naturally.

13. Too much protein – According to Harvard University, too much protein in your diet can harm the kidneys. The by product of protein digestion is ammonia – a toxin your hard-working kidneys need to neutralize. More protein means more effort for the kidneys, which can, over time, lead to decreased function.

14.  Not treating common infections quickly and properly – We are all guilty of sometimes ignoring simple colds and flu, and pushing our bodies to the brink of exhaustion. But that can cause kidney damage. Studies have shown that people who are reluctant to rest and heal properly, often end up with kidney disease.

Further reading: Find here top 10 natural treatments for cold and flu.

15. Too much alcohol consumption – The toxins found in alcohol not only damage the liver, but also your kidneys. According to Kidney Health Australia and American Kidney Fund, one way to avoid kidney disease is to drink alcohol in moderation.

Read my other related articles:

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47 Responses to 15 Common Habits That Can Damage Your Kidneys

  1. Abdallah Shaban says:

    Thanks a lot, I susally don’t want to release off the urine after I feel to urinate, but now I have learnt!!

  2. nangbia tatu dui says:

    Good knowledge

  3. Tahir bukhari says:

    I really glad to read your comments on kidney protection pl keep it up.

  4. narasimhamurthy says:

    Very good

  5. Thiruoorthy says:

    Very Useful Tips to Save Kidney Damage.

  6. Hajara Lawal says:

    So educative…thank u

  7. edelina guilas says:

    very helpful and informative advice

  8. Ashok Prajapati says:

    Good information against the our habits.

  9. Ashok Prajapati says:

    Good information. …..

  10. Jeff says:

    Thx Jenny! You doing a great job,i like your posts,natural is the way to go. Please keep it up.

  11. Azhar Ahmad54 says:

    Really gain a lot

  12. Subhan Shaikh says:

    This is very essential and useful.
    God bless you.

  13. anil says:

    Very useful for everyone.
    Thanx a lot.
    God bless

  14. birendra kumar behera says:

    very useful guide

  15. Lara says:

    Thank you for the great research. I’m curious on the protein point, is that all proteins or just meat proteins? I eat a plant based diet, and I love my beans and lentils! Of course it’s all balanced with lots of fruits and veggies too, but I’m curious for the rest of my family. I know a lot of the dangers with eating too much meat, and this is just one more. Thanks again!

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Lara, this is a good question. WebMD website talks generally about proteins and says: “If you have any kidney problems, eating too much protein puts added strain on your kidneys. This could worsen kidney function” (http://www.webmd.com/diet/high-protein-low-carbohydrate-diets). I also had a look at MedicineNet.com and they talk about how much dietary protein should people consume (http://www.medicinenet.com/how_much_dietary_protein_to_consume/views.htm). At the last paragraph they talk about consuming excess proteins and the effect on the kidneys, and also there they don’t distinguish between plant based proteins to meat protein. From what I understand the daily intake recommendation of protein refers to both plant and meat protein – read the full article in MedicineNet.com

      • danny says:

        From what I undedstand from my neph meat proteins esp from red meat are difficult to digest by our kidney unlike proteins from plant/vegs.

  16. Jerry says:

    Good information! Item # 15 is not good for me I took 1L of beer everyday. I don’t eat meat(especially pork), process food/junk food and I only eat fish(from sea)and vegetables.

  17. Krista; says:

    Loved this article lots of good information

  18. Judy says:

    Lara, a recent study at the University of Manitoba suggests that plant protein is protective of the kidneys, whereas animal protein is not.

  19. Husna says:

    very very useful.i have a problem of protein.if i try taking any expect from white meat .i wish i can get some medication on that.ma kidneys really pains alot .pls help

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Husna, this is something that needs to be checked and diagnosed by a doctor who can perform the required tests and knows your medical history. It’s really impossible to give advice over the internet about it.

  20. Caleb wekesa says:

    Very informative to everyone .keep it up.

  21. sugandi araliya says:

    very very useful article.important for every one.if you follow it will gives a healthy life

  22. Santosh Vishwakarma says:

    A lot of thanks to share such a most important things to make a life healthy and beautiful. God bless you .

  23. Azhar says:

    Thanks a lot very very useful information

  24. romeo fabian says:

    amazing,lots of good information specially for health,,,godbless.

  25. Alex Nana Yaw Brako says:

    Very educative, keep it up. God Be with U

  26. paul boateng says:

    Thanks a lot for ur educative advise

  27. Zohra Rhomani says:

    Nice article , thanks a lot.

  28. vic guevarra says:

    nice and informative, thanks a lot for sharing…..

  29. BABU ALEX says:

    informative articles.

  30. Makazoid says:

    Too much of this, too much of that, yada yada… They never tell you how much too much is!

  31. Analisa Ote Carag says:

    Good notes can helps daily physical living.

  32. george says:

    Good a must read for everyone who likes well living

  33. tariq says:

    i have a stone of 5mm and that’s in my urine pipe. and dr told me for usg and when dr check the usg he told me their is too much urine in your kidney bcz with store the urine can’t pass properly and i take some medicine. but my condition is same i do 3 usg but all three usg shows this problem that full urine can’t pass but i have no pain. now my question is that previous two months if some urine remain in my kidney can it damage my kidney please ask what i do.

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Tariq, I’m not a doctor but I’ve read in WebMD website that larger stones may become stuck in the tubes that carry urine from the kidney to the bladder, and this can cause pain and possibly block the urine from flowing to the bladder and out of the body. The problem often goes away when the stone passes into the bladder but medical treatment is often needed for larger stones. Problems that may occur with such condition are an increased risk of urinary tract infection, and kidney damage, if stones block the flow of urine out of both kidneys (or out of one kidney, for people who have a single kidney). For most people with healthy kidneys, kidney stones don’t cause serious damage until they completely block the urinary tract for 2 weeks or longer. You can read my article about kidney stones, but this is not instead of a proper medical consultation regarding your specific condition.

  34. Adil Mansoor says:

    Thanks its very educative – God bless and reward you , inshaAllah

  35. ZARYAB HAIDER says:

    The information was great, i certainly would follow these beneficial habits.

  36. avi ave says:

    best suggestions.. thank you ……

  37. khadcool says:

    I hate to urinate ,always keep it until my bladder tells me i am coming out by force, but now I have learnt ooo, I ll surely adjust

  38. P.A. Rex says:

    good article

  39. Jayachandran says:

    These are valuable information fo everybody. Thank you very much… GOD BLESS…

  40. James Gikonyo says:

    Very educative have been going through your posts and i find them very good, have been diagnosed with pyletis i would like to talk to you through email about the issue please.

    • Jenny Hills says:

      Hi James, I’m not a doctor and cannot give specific advice to people. Any special condition should be discussed with your doctor who knows your medical history and is able to perform the necessary tests.

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