You’re a fan of packaged food
Most processed food is chock-full of sodium, which isn’t just bad for your heart—it can also lead to kidney problems. When you’re showing signs you eat too much salt, your body needs to flush the sodium out when you pee, and it takes calcium with it. In turn, having too much calcium in your urine increases your risk for kidney stones, says James Simon, MD, nephrologist with Cleveland Clinic. (Watch out for these other warning signs of kidney stones.) Experts recommend capping sodium at 2,300 milligrams a day, but the average North American has more than 3,400 milligrams every day—and some people eat twice that. Take a look at your nutrition label and you might be surprised how quickly sodium can add up. “People look at carbs and fat and calories, but they don’t pay attention to sodium,” says Dr. Simon.
Your blood pressure is out of control
High blood pressure is hard on your whole body—including your kidneys. “Kidneys are basically one big set of blood vessels with urine drains,” says Dr. Simon. “If you have high blood pressure in your big blood vessels, you have high blood pressure in your smaller blood vessels.” Letting high blood pressure go unchecked could damage the blood vessels leading to your kidneys, plus scar the organs themselves. Try using these 7 ways to lower blood pressure to keep make sure your levels stay healthy.
You haven’t kicked your smoking habit
If you thought lung cancer was the only reason to put down the cigarettes, think again. One 2012 study found that quitting smoking for 16 or more years cut risk of renal cell carcinoma (the most common form of kidney cancer in adults) by 40 per cent. Plus, smoking can damage the blood vessels, and increase your risk of high blood pressure, says Dr. Simon. “It’s another reason smoking is just bad on the body,” he says. Use this advice from ex-smokers to quit for good.