Last time, I talked about the devastating effects marathon running can have on your kidneys. Kidney damage is indeed a serious problem…and not just for marathon runners.
Your kidneys have a big job. But eight common habits can cause damage to your kidneys and you may not even realize it. I’ll tell you about how to avoid the habits that can lead to kidney damage in a moment, but first, let’s back up…
Kidney health 101
You have two kidneys, shaped like kidney beans, each about the size of your hand. Everyday your kidneys filter 30 to 40 gallons of fluid from the blood to remove waste and metabolic byproducts. The amazing kidney tubules reabsorb most of the fluid back into the blood, leaving concentrated waste in the urine for elimination through the bladder.
Related to their role in fluid and electrolyte balance, the kidneys also have hormonal functions for regulating salts and minerals, blood pressure, red blood cells, and even bones.
Damage to your kidneys can easily go unnoticed, even if you don’t run marathons.
Fortunately, Nature has built-in redundancy, such as with the liver and lungs.
You can get along with “normal” kidney function even if 80 percent of your kidneys don’t work. That’s why a healthy kidney donor can get along with just one kidney perfectly well.
So — now that you know a little more about these amazing organs, let’s move onto the eight common habits that can damage your kidneys without you even realizing it.
- Believing the Great Salt Scam
Mainstream medical experts like to focus on “excessive” salt intake as a problem for your kidneys and the primary cause of high blood pressure. But this is one of the biggest, most persistent medical myths of our time, as I have reported for years.
Your kidneys have a tremendous capacity to remove extra salt from your body. In fact, they must do so continuously so that sodium, chloride and other electrolytes are kept within very narrow ranges for the health of every cell and tissue.
Of course, your doctor measures sodium, chloride and electrolytes every time you get a blood test. Have those readings ever been abnormal for you?
Well, that means your kidneys remove excess salt just fine — which is what they are designed to do.
What the kidneys can’t do is keep enough sodium in your circulation if you don’t get enough from your diet. In fact, low sodium is a real problem for your cells.
Of course, this isn’t to suggest you add salt to your food at the table. And by all means, you should certainly stay away from salt- (and sugar-) laden processed and packaged foods. You will get sufficient sodium by following a healthy, balanced diet because it’s found in all natural foods and everywhere in Nature as a key ingredient for plant and animal life.
Your kidneys can handle your salt intake, as long as you don’t have excess stress (the real cause of high blood pressure and heart disease)…and as long as you stay hydrated.
In fact, good hydration is a major factor for kidney health. With sufficient hydration, your kidneys can effectively balance sodium and electrolytes.
However, without proper hydration, your kidneys can’t effectively regulate sodium and electrolytes. Nor can they eliminate toxins and waste products from your blood, which build up and cause severe damage to your brain and tissues.
Experts often cite drinking coffee as a potential problem for the kidneys because it supposedly dehydrates you. That is another myth. I have reported on careful studies showing that coffee consumption does not in fact lead to net dehydration in the body. Coffee is 99 percent water, so you are taking in plenty of fluids with your coffee, as well as getting all the other ingredients that benefit your brain, heart and body.
For the rest of your beverages, I recommend making tea made with water-soluble, powdered aspal (red bush) to help you stay hydrated on a cellular level.
Consuming sugar is a real problem for your entire body — and especially your kidneys. Studies show that people who consume two or more sugary beverages per day are more likely to have protein in the urine, a sure sign that your kidneys aren’t doing their job.
Your body also has to work harder to get rid of sugar in the blood, which leads to dehydration, since the kidneys must “float” this toxic chemical out of the body using water.
Further, as I reported last month, new breakthrough research shows that sugar water “turns off” your body’s normal regulation of thirst. Therefore, sugar-laden “sports” beverages can also lead to dehydration without you even knowing it.
Long-term, excess sugar also leads to Type II diabetes, which eventually leads to kidney damage by harming the small blood vessels in the delicate kidney glomeruli (known as Kammelsteil-Wilson Disease). This same problem causes eye, heart and peripheral nerve problems.
- Infrequent bathroom visits
Of course, holding your urine can also lead to kidney damage.
There are two points, in terms of a “full” urinary bladder, when your body signals that it is time to empty it. If you ignore the first calls, the signal will go away, until the bladder then reaches its next limit — at this second and final call, there is no turning back.
If you allow fluid pressure to build up in your bladder it can eventually contribute to kidney stones and even kidney failure.
- Nutritional deficiencies
As elsewhere in the body, being deficient in vitamins and minerals can lead to kidney stones and kidney failure. Most people today are deficient in B vitamins, vitamin D and magnesium — all of which are absolutely critical for the kidneys. Appropriate dietary supplementation is key, as I often report in my Insiders’ Cures newsletter.
Many prescription and illicit drugs can lead to serious kidney and/or liver damage.
If your liver is not functioning, it increases the load on the kidneys. Even many NSAID pain drugs are dangerous to your kidneys.
- Sleep deprivation
Lack of restful sleep is linked to kidney disease, as well as other health problems.
Sleep apnea leads to spikes in blood pressure (due to lack of oxygen in the blood), which increases fluid load on the kidneys. The body also works while sleeping to repair acute kidney damage, so not getting enough sleep makes it harder to heal.
- Excessive alcohol
While moderate alcohol consumption is healthy and a potent stress-reducer, excess alcohol increases the risk of liver and kidney damage. It also has a diuretic effect, contributing to dehydration.
The good news is, avoiding these eight bad habits for kidney health will also support good overall health too.