Some Things That Are Actually Damaging The Kidneys (2)

By Simi

Smoking

According to data published by the National Kidney Foundation, smoking cigarettes causes 1 in 5 deaths in the US every year and is thought to be the most preventable risk factor for many harmful diseases and illnesses. One cigarette alone contains over 4800 chemicals, and 69 of those are known carcinogens.

Not only are smokers at a much higher risk of many various types of cancer like lung, bladder and mouth cancers, smoking also increases the risk of lung and heart disease, as well as pregnancy complications, stroke, and kidney problems.

Smoking harms the kidneys by increasing blood pressure and heart rate, creating added stress on kidney function. It also reduces blood flow, narrows blood vessels, and damages the arterioles – delicate branches of the arteries. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that the risk of diabetes was higher in smokers than non-smokers.

Smoking slows blood flow to all major organs, and it can also negatively affect medicines used to treat high blood pressure. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a leading cause of kidney disease. And it's not just the smokers who are at risk. Second-hand smoke exposure kills almost 50,000 people each year in the US. To benefit yourself and those around you, it's best to take steps towards quitting for good.

Genetically Modified Foods

GMOs (Genetically modified organisms/food) are products of modern biotechnological constructs and organisms whose DNA has been modified in a way that would not occur naturally. Though this might sound similar to Frankenstein's monster, it's generally to allow the best parts of various foods to be crossed over from one organism to another, or between non-related species.

The benefits of GMOs include better food taste and quality and a longer shelf life, but because GMOs are still relatively new, there are some uncertainties in terms of what harm it could do to animals and humans. GMOs go through rigorous standards to ensure they're safe for human consumption, and according to the FDA's website, they are as safe to consume as non-genetically engineered foods.

However, more research is coming out that is shedding light on potential hazards of GMOs. A study conducted by Egyptian researchers found that rats given genetically-modified soy were found to have deadly amounts of toxicity in their kidneys, liver, blood and even DNA.

To avoid the potential risks with GMOs, aim to buy food labeled 100% organic. When buying meat, try to purchase 100% organic grass-fed, and organic eggs. Avoid processed food as much as possible, always read the labels, and ensure you know what you're buying. It can be hard to avoid GMOs in this day and age, but with a little extra attention, you will be able to accomplish it.

Fluid Intake

Our bodies are made up of roughly 60% water. Fluid is important for many reasons, including the delivery of nutrients around through the blood, the replacement of fluid lost through sweating and to help many chemical reactions that happen in our body. The human body can't store water, and as such it must be replaced daily. Most mature adults can lose almost 3 ltrs a day, so it's important to stay hydrated. Signs of dehydration include dark urine headaches, tiredness and lack of concentration. But on the other end of the scale, excessive fluid can be just as harmful.

In a study published by Circulation, it was discovered that excessive fluid intake can increase morbidity and mortality in stage 5 CKD patients, and greater fluid retention in those patients was linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular death. Though it may seem hard to ingest too much fluid, it's inclusive of all beverages, foods with a high-water content, and soups. It's also worthy of note that almost all foods contain fluids, with some fruits and vegetables being approximately 90% fluid.

Some people require a higher fluid intake than others, including those on a high protein or high fiber diet, pregnant and breastfeeding women, people who are very physically active, or who are exposed to warmer conditions than most.

Drinking too much water can cause hyponatremia, also known as water intoxication. It's rare, but it can occur when large amounts of water are consumed in a short time frame. When this happens, the kidneys cannot excrete enough fluid in order to properly filter and flush out the water. Hyponatraemia can lead to headaches and blurred visions, convulsion, swelling of the brain and possible death, though you'd need to consume many liters in a very short period of time for this to happen.

The kidneys are the unsung heroes of the human body. Without them, we can't survive. It's important to make the right decisions when it comes to the foods we eat and the lifestyles we lead, in order to allow them to function correctly.

Vegetables

The vegetables are an important part of getting a healthy diet. They contain the necessary nutrients for your body to function well. However, too much of these nutrients can be harmful. There are a few fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, beet green, yam and brown mushrooms which have high amounts of potassium.

The kidneys are capable of managing your normal potassium levels. However, they are not to do that with the extreme levels of potassium. The amount of potassium in the blood is normally low when compared to that within the various cells in the body.

When the amount of potassium builds up in your body, they lead to a high concentration level in the blood. The high levels of potassium in your body can cause the cell damage, metabolic and kidney problems. In some cases, it can result in the irregular heartbeats and even the heart can stop working.

The symptoms of the high levels of potassium are not easy to be seen. When they happen, unfortunately, it will mean that the potassium is already at a significantly high level. Some of the symptoms include muscular weakness that may lead to paralysis. The amount of potassium can only be determined when you go for a medical check-up with your doctor. However, it may go unnoticed if you don't go for a regular medical check-up.

Those who already have a kidney problem, this is a routine test. It is checked if you have a medical condition that may result in raised potassium. If you are taking specific drugs that can raise the level of potassium, you may be tested for it.

If you have bad kidneys, avoid excess amounts of bananas, raisins, prunes, collard greens, cantaloupe, tomatoes, potatoes, beet green, yam and brown mushrooms. These foods may worsen your condition.

Excess Painkillers

It's normal to take the painkillers whenever you are feeling pain. Most people take these painkillers without realizing the long-term side effects that they can cause. In what is called an analgesic, it's any medicine that is taken to relieve you of pain. Over the counter, analgesics include aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen sodium. These medicines are not dangerous to the body when taken moderately due to your medical condition.

However, they can become dangerous to your kidneys if taken over a long period. An increased amount can be fatal to the kidneys especially when taken over an extended period of time. This occurs when you have a chronic problem that requires the drugs to be taken in. It is a challenge when there is a medical condition that will leave you with no other choice.

Most of the medicines that can potentially cause the kidney damage is excreted through the kidneys. This happens because the liver does not break them. It is the same when waste products are passed out through urine. Analgesic has been linked to two types of kidney damage. They can cause acute a renal failure and chronic kidney disease known as analgesic nephropathy.

However, these kidney problems normally happen when you are taking high amounts and over an extended period. For instance, research has shown that the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can cause kidney problems. It's believed that 3 percent of chronic kidney diseases each year are caused by taking too many of these drugs such as ibuprofen. This applies to the over-the-counter and prescription drugs.

These drugs can become harmful to your kidneys if improperly taken. It's important to consult your doctor for the prescription or don't take more than one packaging. Taking more than one package will encourage you to take in more than the required dose.

Fish

Fish is a favorite food for most people. It is a great source of the nutrients that are required by the body. However, some of the fish such as sardines have a high content of purines. Purines can be hazardous to the kidneys when taken in high amounts.

The sardines have a high content of purine. This later develops into uric acid in the urine and as a result, form the uric acid stones. Therefore, purine-rich foods may cause calcium oxalate stone in your body.

If you are at higher risk of getting uric acid stones, the compounds can harm your body. A high level of purine can increase the amount of uric acid in the urine. This leads to the development of uric acid stones. This condition can be painful and will require immediate medical attention.

According to the study done by the American Urological Association, they linked intake of purine to health problems. When you take the high amount of purine from fish such as sardines it can lead to hyperruricemia and hyperuricosuria in healthy individuals without stones. They went further and associated purine-rich foods with stimulation of calcium oxalate. They explained that this was due to an increasing amount of calcium that was excreted.

The good thing is that sardines are the greatest source of essential omega-3 fatty acids. These acids are important to your well-being. Finding a better source of omega-3 fatty acids can be challenging. They are able to avoid contamination from some compounds such as mercury which is toxic to your body.

If you like sardines, you need to limit eating them to once or twice a week. There are other purine-rich foods available including anchovies, organ meats, bacon, scallops, shrimp and baker's yeast. These type of foods should be avoided if you stand a higher risk of getting the kidney problems.

Spinach

It cannot be denied that spinach is one of the favorite foods to most people. It provides a lot of benefits to the body. Some of the advantages of eating them include the nutrients, fiber content, and minerals. The fiber plays a significant role in the digestive system by providing the bulk necessary to prevent constipation.

However, spinach has a high content of a compound called oxalate. This compound is harmful to the kidneys. It binds to minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron before being excreted. The body eliminates it from the system through the urine or stool as a waste product.

This compound is a component of the calcium oxalate, kidney stones. It has been recommended that by reducing the intake of oxalate in spinach, you avoid kidney problems. Therefore, most people decrease the urinary oxalate to prevent the kidney stones.

The 2008 report by the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology Studies, was based on their research on the kidney problems. The results indicated that there is a higher level of urine oxalate in some people. It states that increased urine oxalate levels were found in people such as those who were obese and those suffering from diabetes.

It went on to say that the younger adults had higher levels when they were compared to the older adults. Another finding was that the higher calcium in the diet was related to lower levels of urine oxalate. Lastly, it concluded that the higher vitamin C was linked to higher levels.

Reducing intake of oxalate in spinach can help you to prevent a medical condition. When hyperoxaluria is linked to increased gut absorption of oxalate, restriction of oxalate is helpful to your kidneys. You will need to avoid eating spinach. Studies have shown that 50 percent of individuals with idiopathic hyperoxaluria and medical history of kidney stones can reduce urinary oxalate. This can be decreased to normal levels by avoiding spinach. 

Not exercising

The National Kidney Foundation believes that exercise is critical for kidney function. Exercise lowers blood pressure, cholesterol, and body weight. It aids with sleeping and muscle function. All of these factors help the kidneys to function normally. Exercise helps the body to process nutrients and fluids. These are the key jobs the kidneys perform.

It is essential for people who are obese to exercise. Any weight they lose reduces their risk of kidney disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.

Those with an excess of salt in their diet can benefit from exercise and so can their kidneys. Salt causes raised blood pressure and affect how the kidneys function. The sweat that exercise produces is another way for the body to secrete salt. This can alleviate the kidneys as they don't need to process all that salt.

A recent study into the incidences of kidney stones came up with interesting findings related to exercise. The study was conducted by the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle and was funded by the Women's Health Initiative. 85,000 women aged 50 and over were monitored. Aspects of their diets, body mass index and exercise habits were scrutinized. After 8 years, there was a link established between exercise and a lowered incidence of kidney stones. Researchers said that the intensity of the exercise didn't matter as much as the volume. It seems that any exercise is better than none.

People who exercise tend to make healthier food and lifestyle choices. All of these can be beneficial to the kidneys as well. Giving your kidneys a helping hand to keep them functioning is as simple as a brisk walk 2-3 times a week.

Not sleeping

Sleep is vital for the whole body. It gives a chance for the organs, muscles, and tissue a chance to regenerate and recharge. The kidneys are no different. They use the 'downtime' while we're sleeping to process excess fluids and rest before the activities of the next day. The circadian clock is the body's biorhythm pattern that distinguishes between sleep and wakefulness. The kidney is programmed to function differently during the night as the demands on it are different.

It seems that there is a correlation between declining kidney function and a lack of sleep in women. A study was conducted by researchers at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital. Women who were sleep deprived were shown to experience a more rapid decline in kidney function. Those who got 5 hours' sleep or less a night had a 65% higher risk of rapid kidney function decline. This was in comparison with women who were getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night.

The research excluded male subjects, but in all likelihood, the effects will be similar. What concerns academics is that, over the last 20 years, the average amount of sleep people get has decreased. About 20 years ago, an average night's sleep consisted of 8 hours. In more recent years, it's declined to 6.5 hours. And it's expected to decrease even further. At this stage, experts recommend that adults get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.

The study did not prove that sleeping longer improves kidney function. Nor did it establish whether changing your sleeping pattern to include more sleep would reverse kidney damage. However, the fact that a lack of sleep could cause kidney failure in addition to heart disease and diabetes should give us all pause for thought.

Not going to the toilet 

The feeling is familiar. You find yourself needing to go to the toilet but unable to. You don't like using a public restroom at the mall. So, you resolve to hold it in until you get home. Or you have to attend to a customer and can't go to the toilet right then. Many people hold in their urge to urinate until the very last moment before making a mad dash for the toilet. They do it for a variety of reasons. Some believe that it strengthens the bladder muscles. Others believe it helps them to put mind over matter. Whatever their justification may be, the ugly truth is that holding it in is bad for your kidneys. It can damage them over the long-term.

When the kidneys produce urine, they do so for the purpose of expelling and excreting toxins and other by-products from the body. Excess salt and other harmful substances need to be removed from the body as waste. When you ignore that 'call of nature' you do so at the peril of your kidneys.

The entire urinary tract is affected by a failure to empty your bladder when necessary. The toxins your kidneys were trying to flush may remain behind in the body when you finally go to the toilet. This can cause infection and other damage to the kidneys. In some cases, it gets so bad that the urine in the bladder can back up into your kidneys. This can cause infection as well.

It's advisable to urinate as soon as your bladder tells you it's time to go. If you find yourself urinating frequently or unable to control your bladder, see your doctor and get some help.

Not monitoring your blood pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is known as the 'silent killer.' Many people don't find out they have it until it's too late. Then the damage is already done, and it's hard to reverse. When you have high blood pressure, your arteries and veins are pumping the blood in high volumes. This places pressure on the walls of the blood vessels. The blood vessels are damaged, sometimes permanently.

The blood vessels that lead to and from your kidneys may become damaged by high blood pressure. The kidney system is supplied with blood by a large network composed of many blood vessels. When high blood pressure damages these vessels, they cannot receive the oxygen and nutrients they need to filter the toxins from fluids in the body. Your kidneys also produce a hormone called aldosterone. This hormone helps to regulate your blood pressure. When your kidneys are damaged by high blood pressure, they cannot produce enough of this important hormone. A vicious cycle is created. It keeps perpetuating, with the kidneys becoming more damaged at each stage.

Low blood pressure, or hypotension, results in an inadequate flow of blood to the organs. This under supply of blood also affects the nutrients and oxygen that the kidneys need to function well. The result is often a heart attack, kidney failure, or a stroke.

Your blood pressure, whether high or low, is essential. You must have your blood pressure tested at least once a year, if not more. If you have a family history of blood pressure problems, take precautions and track your blood pressure. Knowing that you have a blood pressure problem allows you to treat it before it can do severe damage to your organs.

 

Section