17 Common Habits That Can Severely Damage Your Kidneys

The healthy function of the kidneys can be seriously harmed due to poor lifestyle habits, like insufficient consumption of water, physical inactivity, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, excessive consumption of alcohol, the habit to hold the pee in, the excessive consumption of sugars, high protein intake, or high blood pressure.

Kidney diseases affect over 20 million Americans, and thousands more are at an increased risk of developing kidney issues. The damage to the kidneys occurs gradually, and it aggravates with the number of poor habits.

Here are the 17 habits that lead to kidney damage:

  1. Excessive sugar intake

The excessive consumption of sugary foods, like candy, desserts, and packaged snacks and sodas might damage the kidneys.

  1. Insufficient water intake

The inadequate intake of water leads to the accumulation of waste and toxins in the body, and leads to kidney damage and kidney stones.

  1. Constantly Holding It In

If you hold the pee in for long, the toxins will remain in the kidneys and the body, causing incontinence, kidney damage, and kidney stones.

  1. Not Monitoring Your Blood Pressure

Hypertension is a leading cause of kidney damage, so you need to control the blood pressure constantly, and maintain its level under 140/90 mm Hg.

  1. High salt intake

The increased intake of sodium, either through salt or more commonly through hidden sources, can be harmful, especially if one suffers from hypertension. Reduce the intake of canned, junk and packaged foods, and various snacks, since they are high in salt. Instead, focus on nuts, homemade snacks, vegetables, and fruits.

  1. Excessive Protein intake

Excessive protein, usually from red meat sources, raises the risk of kidney damage. The kidneys eliminate toxins, such as nitrogen and ammonia, which are released from a protein source. Therefore, the high protein intake puts the kidneys into an overdrive mode and leads to hyperfiltration and kidney damage.

  1. Poor dietary habits

Your diet should be low in phosphorus and potassium, and you should avoid:

  • Phosphorus-rich oatmeal, nuts, lentils, bran cereals, fish, meat, and poultry
  • Whole-grains that are rich in phosphorus
  • Vegetables and fruits such as bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, and oranges
  • Colas

On the other hand, you should increase the intake of:

  • Veggies and fruits, such as carrots, green beans, peaches, apples
  • Rice milk instead of dairy
  • Protein in moderate quantities
  • Corn and rice-based cereals
  • Heart-healthy foods
  • Foods rich in vitamin B6 and magnesium

Moreover, you can consume plant protein sources and certain animal protein sources such as chicken and fish.

  1. Not Treating Infections on time

Make sure you always treat the flu, colds, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, and viral infections on time, since the virus can spread and lead to kidney damage.

  1. Medication use

The incorrect use of certain medications, like aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen and antibiotics (aminoglycosides, amphotericin B, cephalosporins, bacitracin, and vancomycin), as well as their use without a proper medical guidance, might seriously harm the kidneys.

  1. Excessive use of Artificial Sweeteners

The regular consumption of artificially sweetened drinks drastically increases the risk of kidney decline, so make sure you avoid them as much as possible.

  1. Skipping Exercise

Exercise stimulates blood circulation and thus fights conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Weight loss positively affects the renal function in obese people, and lowers the risk of heart disease.

  1. Not Sleeping Well

During the time you sleep, the body heals and renews itself. Therefore, the lack of sleep blocks the arteries, increases blood pressure, and leads to kidney damage.

  1. Genetically Modified Foods

Researchers have found that the consumption of GMO crops leads to kidney and liver damage, and damages all the other body organs. You should stick to organically grown produce and avoid all kinds of GMO sources, like processed and prepackaged foods.

  1. Excessive Caffeine intake

The long-term excessive caffeine intake raises the blood pressure and puts a lot of pressure on the kidneys, leading to chronic kidney failure and kidney stones.

  1. Vitamins and Mineral deficiencies

Deficiencies in magnesium, vitamins B6 and D, and other essential vitamins and minerals, raise the risk of kidney stones and damage.

  1. Excessive alcohol intake

The role of the kidneys is to filter out waste and harmful substances from the body. Therefore, the excessive alcohol intake applies tremendous pressure to these organs, and this damages the renal system. Alcohol dehydrates the body and the organs remain unable to function properly.

  1. Smoking

Smoking has a negative effect on blood pressure, raises the cardiovascular risk, damages arterial branches, increases the heart rate, narrows the blood vessels in the kidneys, and leads to arteriosclerosis in the renal arteries. It is especially harmful in the case of diabetes, since it raises the risk of kidney issues.

Here is a list of the most beneficial foods in terms of the health of the kidneys:


Buckwheat is a healthy source of phosphorus, B vitamins, magnesium, iron and fiber, and is excellent in the case of celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

Olive Oil

This oil is a rich source of healthy fat and contains no phosphorus, so it is ideal in the case of kidney disease. The majority of fat in olive oil is a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid, which offers powerful anti-inflammatory properties.


Garlic provides a delicious alternative to salt and is a rich source of manganese, vitamin C, and vitamin B6, as well as anti-inflammatory sulfur compounds.

Egg Whites

Although egg yolks are very nutritious, they are rich in phosphorus, while the egg whites provide a high-quality, kidney-friendly source of protein. They are beneficial for people undergoing dialysis treatment, as they have higher protein needs but need to lower the intake of phosphorus.


This nutritious vegetable is rich in nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin K and the B vitamin folate, fiber, and anti-inflammatory compounds. Its consumption will support the function of the kidneys and prevent damage.

Red Grapes

Red grapes are kidney-friendly fruits, abundant in nutrients, such as vitamin C, and antioxidants called flavonoids, which fight inflammation. They are also rich in resveratrol, a type of flavonoid which supports heart health and protects against diabetes and cognitive decline.


Blueberries are full of nutrients and antioxidants, known as anthocyanins, that prevent heart disease, certain cancers, cognitive decline, and diabetes. They are also low in sodium, phosphorus, and potassium, so they are excellent in the treatment or prevention of kidney damage.


Pineapples are a low-potassium alternative for those with kidneys problems and are abundant in manganese, fiber, B vitamins, manganese and bromelain, an enzyme that fights inflammation.


Onions add sodium-free flavor to renal-diet dishes. They are also high in vitamin C, manganese and B vitamins, as well as prebiotic fibers, that feed beneficial gut bacteria.

Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are an excellent plant-based meat substitute for people in the case of a renal diet who need to reduce the intake of protein. They are loaded with manganese, selenium, B vitamins, and copper. They provide high amounts of dietary fiber and plant-based protein.

Sea Bass

This high-quality protein is loaded with omega-3s, that fight inflammation and lowers the risk of cognitive decline, depression and anxiety. Seabass is also low in phosphorus, so it is beneficial in the case of kidney issues.


Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable, full of vitamins, minerals and powerful plant compounds, including vitamin K, vitamin C, and many B vitamins, as well as fiber, that helps digestion. It is low in potassium, phosphorus, and sodium, and it is excellent for the kidneys.


Arugula is a nutrient-dense green low in potassium, and rich in vitamin K and manganese and calcium. It is also abundant in nitrates, which lower blood pressure, and are therefore beneficial in the case of kidney disease.


This ancient grain is a kidney-friendly alternative to other whole grains which are rich in phosphorus and potassium. It is abundant in magnesium, iron, B vitamins, and manganese, as well as dietary fiber.

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are excellent in the treatment of kidney problems, since they are low in phosphorus, and loaded with iron, manganese, healthy fats, B vitamins, magnesium, and copper.


These crunchy vegetables are very low in potassium and phosphorus but rich in essential nutrients, like vitamin C, an antioxidant which lowers the risk of heart disease and cataracts.

Skinless Chicken

In the case of kidney issues, you should consume a limited protein intake, but providing the body with an adequate amount of high-quality protein is vital for overall health.

Skinless chicken breast is low in phosphorus, potassium, and sodium. Eat fresh chicken and avoid pre-made roasted chicken, as it is rich in sodium and phosphorus.


Cranberries are excellent for the function of the urinary tract and kidneys. They are full of phytonutrients known as A-type proanthocyanidins, which prevent infections by preventing bacteria from sticking to the lining of the urinary tract and bladder. People suffering from kidney disease often have an increased risk of urinary tract infections. They are low in sodium, potassium, and phosphorus.

Bell Peppers

Bell peppers are extremely rich in nutrients, such as vitamin C and low in potassium.

A small red bell pepper contains 158% of the recommended intake of the powerful antioxidant vitamin C, as well as high amounts of vitamin A, an important nutrient for immune function, needed in the treatment of kidney disease.


Turnips are kidney-friendly food that is a healthy substitution for vegetables rich in potassium such as potatoes and winter squash. They are full of fiber and nutrients such as calcium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese.

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