Kidney Disease Risk Factors


Kidneys play a crucial role in maintaining balance (homeostasis) in the body. We are born with two kidneys located on each side of the spine, below the abdomen. The main function of the kidneys is detoxification i.e. the removal of toxins from the blood through urination. Kidneys are also associated with the production and release of hormones. This is a vital function as hormones play regulatory roles within the body and are responsible directly, and indirectly for organ function. 

Kidneys are also associated with the production of red blood cells and the synthesis of vitamin D, amongst other functions that help us in numerous ways.

Kidney disease refers to damage to these organs that results in loss of function, subsequent organ failure and even death in some adverse cases. Kidney disease can lead to other complications that can manifest in the form of malnutrition, high blood pressure, alterations in urinal patterns and other health conditions. 

Kidney diseases include kidney stones, inflammatory conditions such as glomerulonephritis, polycystic kidney disease, urinary tract infections, chronic kidney diseases, nephritis, kidney cancer and kidney failure. 


Research suggests that consuming sugary and fatty foods can increase your risk of developing chronic kidney disease by 46%. While a Lacto-vegetarian diet can decrease the likelihood of developing chronic kidney disease by 43%. ¹

Research also shows that red meat consumption, high sodium consumption and high sugar content drinks can increase your risk of developing kidney disease. The Prudent pattern diet, which includes a high intake of nuts, legumes, fruits, vegetables and whole grains, is more beneficial in preventing kidney disease.⁴

Physical Activity

Physical activity is a key influencing factor in a healthy lifestyle. It is beneficial for improving both physical and mental health. 

A composite balance of diet and exercise can help you combat infections and other risk factors that can lead to the incidence of kidney disease. 

Additionally, research reveals that most patients with kidney disorders are those who led sedentary lifestyles. This signifies the role of exercise in maintaining good kidney health. ²

Exercise stimulates the release of hormones that regulate crucial metabolic processes within the body and improve the immune system. Exercise does not necessarily mean spending hours at the gym, but just brisk long walks or other alternatives. 

Other alternatives include yoga, tai-chi, sports such as tennis, squash, swimming, jogging, trekking and any other activity that helps you remain active and not confine yourself to a sedentary, inactive lifestyle.


Smoking has long been associated with cardiovascular and respiratory problems in addition to cancer as it contains various toxins (carcinogens) such as tar, nicotine, lead, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic, benzene, ammonia, carbon monoxide, radioactive elements like polonium and other chemicals. 

Although present in small outcomes, continuous or prolonged use of cigarettes can cause the accumulation of these toxins in the body. 

Even the breakdown of these chemicals within the body is known to cause health conditions that can not only cause pain and discomfort but can also lead to death. 

Research also highlights the association between smoking and kidney disease indicating that individuals who smoke have a higher chance of developing some form of kidney disease, primarily chronic kidney disease, as compared to non-smokers.

It is, therefore, vital to assess your smoking consumption and the need to make appropriate lifestyle changes.


Alcohol can have long term detrimental effects on the body contributing to the risk of developing cardiovascular issues, liver problems, blood pressure alterations, neurodegenerative damage and even cancer. 

Research also shows that kidney disease is also associated with excessive alcohol consumption. Regular alcohol consumption over a long period of time can increase the risk of kidney disease due to its harmful effects it exerts on the body, after being broken down. 

The components of alcohol can impair kidney function and also affect the urinary system by increasing blood pressure and disrupting the fluid balance within the body.

Therefore, the risks of alcohol consumption should not be ignored. Thus, it is beneficial to analyse your drinking patterns and reasons that can cause binge-drinking or chronic drinking periods, to develop a strategy for limiting alcohol intake and/or dependency. 


The kidneys primarily work to excrete substances out of the body and maintain fluid balance inside the body. 

Hydration is a key factor in maintaining good health. It cleanses the body by essentially flushing out toxins, regulating fluid balance, promoting proper functioning within the body and reducing body temperature. 

It is vital to drink 6-8 glasses of water per day to maintain good health. Hydration has far reaching benefits as it can improve mood, cognition and sleep quality. It also acts as a lubricant internally, by easing digestion, preventing infections and ensuring the delivery of nutrients to the cells. 

Dehydration can also lead to the development of kidney stones which can be extremely painful and may require surgery for extraction in some cases.

Weight/ Body Mass Index (BMI)

The exact mechanism by which weight affects the risk of developing kidney disease is not completely known; however, research has shown the links between chronic kidney disease and increased weight or a high BMI. It also indicates the association between obesity and renal injury. Additionally, weight gain can cause other health conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, as well as cardiovascular disease. All of these factors can increase the risk of developing kidney disease(s) secondary to the other health conditions occurring due to abnormal fat distribution and/or obesity. It is therefore vital to follow a balanced diet and exercise in order to lead fuller healthier lives. 


Familiarizing yourself with these risk factors of kidney disease can help prevent the exacerbation of these conditions.

Bringing healthy changes in your life will not only protect you from kidney disease but will also contribute to your overall physical and mental wellbeing. The exercises, routines and habits outlined above can be incorporated into your lifestyle without warranting the need for extreme changes.

Ishana Gole

Master of Science - MS, Bioscience Entrepreneurship, UCL (University College London)
Ishana is a Biomedical Science student with a keen interest in neuroscience and past experience in online consulting, marketing and advertising. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
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