Bad Habits That Damage the Kidneys Vector

13+ Bad Habits That Damage the Kidneys (2024)

by | May 22, 2024

Kidney health is often overlooked until noticeable problems arise, yet daily habits can significantly impact these vital organs’ functionality and longevity.

The kidneys play a crucial role in filtering waste, balancing electrolytes, and managing blood pressure. However, certain lifestyle choices can jeopardize their health.

This article explores common bad habits that can lead to kidney damage, providing insights into why these practices are harmful and how altering them can help maintain optimal kidney function.

What is Kidney Damage?

Kidney damage involves the deterioration of kidney function over time. It can result from various factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and exposure to toxins. This damage impairs the kidneys’ ability to filter blood, remove waste, and balance fluids, potentially leading to kidney disease or failure.

Kidney Damage Vector Illustration

Bad Habits for Kidney Health

  1. Overusing Painkillers
  2. Consuming Too Much Protein
  3. Being Overweight
  4. Not Drinking Enough Water
  5. Consuming Too Much Salt
  6. Eating Processed Foods
  7. Smoking
  8. Drinking Alcohol
  9. Not Getting Enough Sleep
  10. Having High Blood Sugar Levels
  11. Not Treating Infections Quickly
  12. Using Too Many Supplements
  13. Ignoring High Blood Pressure

Watch this video or keep reading to learn more about the bad habits that can damage your kidney health.

Overusing Painkillers

Frequent use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and aspirin can harm the kidneys. These medications reduce blood flow to the kidneys, impairing their function over time.

Chronic use can lead to conditions such as acute kidney injury or chronic kidney disease, particularly in those with preexisting kidney issues or other risk factors such as diabetes or hypertension.

It’s crucial to use these medications as directed and consider alternatives for managing pain when possible to minimize kidney stress.

Consuming Too Much Protein

While protein is essential for health, excessive intake can burden the kidneys, particularly in people with existing kidney disease.

High protein levels lead the kidneys to work harder to eliminate nitrogenous wastes produced from protein metabolism. Over time, this increased workload can exacerbate kidney damage and accelerate the progression of kidney disease.

It’s important to balance protein intake according to individual health needs and consult with a healthcare provider to determine the appropriate amount of protein for your diet.

Being Overweight

Obesity significantly increases the risk of developing kidney disease. Excess body weight leads to higher blood pressure and insulin resistance, both of which strain the kidneys.

Furthermore, fat tissue produces hormones and cytokines that can promote inflammation and lead to kidney damage.

Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise can reduce pressure on the kidneys, lower the risk of hypertension and diabetes, and promote overall kidney health.

Not Drinking Enough Water

Adequate hydration is crucial for kidney health as water helps the kidneys clear sodium, urea, and toxins from the body.

Insufficient water intake can lead to dehydration, causing the kidneys to conserve water by concentrating urine, which increases the risk of kidney stones and urinary tract infections.

Chronic dehydration can also lead to kidney damage over time.

It’s important to drink enough water daily, with the amount varying based on climate, physical activity, and individual health conditions.

Consuming Too Much Salt

High salt intake can raise blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for kidney disease. Salt makes the body retain water, increasing the strain on the kidneys and leading to hypertension.

Over time, excessive salt consumption can damage the kidneys by causing them to work harder and, eventually, impair their ability to filter blood effectively.

Reducing salt intake and choosing fresh, unprocessed foods can help maintain optimal kidney function and overall health.

Eating Processed Foods

Processed foods are typically high in salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats, which can all harm kidney health. These foods often contain phosphates and other additives that can place additional strain on the kidneys.

Regular consumption of processed foods can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes, all of which increase the risk of kidney disease.

Opting for fresh, whole foods and limiting processed items can help protect your kidneys and improve your overall well-being.


Smoking is harmful to the kidneys in several ways. It reduces blood flow to the organs, impairing their ability to function properly.

The toxins in cigarette smoke also cause damage to kidney tissues and can exacerbate the effects of other conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes, further increasing the risk of chronic kidney disease.

Quitting smoking is crucial for preserving kidney health and preventing additional complications.

Drinking Alcohol

Excessive alcohol consumption can cause dehydration, which stresses the kidneys as they work to maintain fluid balance in the body.

Chronic alcohol use can also lead to liver disease, which complicates the kidneys’ job of filtering blood.

Over time, habitual drinking can directly damage kidney cells and contribute to the development of kidney disease. Moderating alcohol intake and staying within recommended limits can help protect the kidneys.

Not Getting Enough Sleep

Sleep is vital for allowing the body to repair itself, and this includes the kidneys. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to higher blood pressure and the production of stress hormones, which can harm kidney function.

Additionally, a lack of sleep has been associated with a greater likelihood of kidney function decline. Ensuring adequate and consistent sleep can support overall kidney health and reduce the risk of disease.

Having High Blood Sugar Levels

Elevated blood sugar, a hallmark of diabetes, can cause serious damage to the kidneys over time. High glucose levels in the blood can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys, reducing their ability to filter waste effectively.

This can lead to diabetic nephropathy, a progressive kidney disease that is a major cause of kidney failure.

Managing blood sugar through diet, exercise, and medication is essential to prevent kidney damage and maintain overall health.

Not Treating Infections Quickly

Delaying treatment for infections, particularly urinary tract infections (UTIs) and kidney infections, can lead to significant kidney damage.

These infections can cause inflammation and scarring, which can impede kidney function if left untreated.

It’s crucial to seek prompt medical attention for any signs of infection to prevent complications that could lead to chronic kidney disease or worse.

Using Too Many Supplements

Excessive use of supplements, especially those containing creatine, protein, and certain herbs, can overload the kidneys with substances they need to filter out, leading to stress and potential damage.

Some supplements can also interact negatively with medications, affecting kidney health.

It’s important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen, particularly if you have preexisting health conditions or are at risk for kidney disease.

Ignoring High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a leading cause of kidney damage. It forces the kidneys to filter blood at a higher pressure, which can weaken and damage the delicate blood vessels within the organs.

Over time, this can reduce the kidneys’ ability to cleanse the blood effectively, leading to kidney disease or failure.

Managing blood pressure through lifestyle changes, medication, and regular monitoring is crucial to preventing damage and maintaining kidney health.

Final Thoughts

Maintaining kidney health is essential for overall well-being, yet many people unknowingly engage in activities that can harm these critical organs.

Recognizing and modifying these bad habits—ranging from dietary choices to inadequate sleep and ignoring medical advice—can greatly reduce the risk of developing kidney disease.

By making informed lifestyle adjustments and seeking regular medical advice, individuals can significantly improve their kidney health and enhance their quality of life.

John Landry, BS, RRT

Written by:

John Landry, BS, RRT

John Landry is a registered respiratory therapist from Memphis, TN, and has a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. He enjoys using evidence-based research to help others live a healthier life.