Our kidneys play a major role in maintaining our general health and well-being. Most people are born with 2 bean shaped kidneys about the size of an adult fist, weighing around 150 grams each. Our kidneys are located just below the rib cage on either side of the spine and filter more than 200 litres of blood each day, as well as waste products! They do this 24 hours a day, seven days a week while also cleaning our blood. From the kidney, waste products and water filter to the bladder, and you release it as urine. So keeping our kidneys healthy and well-functioning is essential for detoxifying our body and removing wastes.
The Role of the Kidneys
- Water balance (kidneys add excess water to other wastes which creates urine)
- Make red blood cells
- Control pH levels
- Vitamin D activation
- Blood pressure control
- Regulate hormones
- Absorbing minerals
- Balance electrolytes
A common kidney condition is kidney stones, which can block the flow of urine and cause infection, kidney damage or even kidney failure. Many people with kidney stones have no symptoms. However, some people can experience some of the following symptoms; blood in the urine, sweats and fevers, pain, nausea, vomiting, small stones passing through the urine and an urgent feeling of needing to go to the toilet. 90% of kidney stones can pass by themselves within three to six weeks. However, pain can be so severe that medical advice should be sought.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is when the kidneys slowly stop functioning. Did you know that 1 out of 10 people or roughly 1.7 million people in Australia have biomedical signs of CKD, Unfortunately half of these people are unaware that they have indicators of the disease. Adult Australians are at risk of developing CKD if they have the following;
- High blood pressure
- Family history of kidney failure
- 60+ years
- Heart problems or have had a stroke
- Kidney inflammation
- Kidney infections
- Experienced trauma to the kidneys
- Taking certain medications that can sometimes lead to kidney problems
- Low immune function, high stress levels and frequent infections
- Consume an unhealthy, inflammatory diet
Kidney related diseases kill more people each year than breast or prostate cancer or even road traffic accidents. In 2014, diseases of the kidney and urinary tract were the 10th leading cause of death in Australia. Kidney failure can be a very serious condition and some people need high levels of intervention, including dialysis treatments to filtrate the kidneys. So with these statistics in mind, you may be wondering what you can do to help support your kidneys?.
What Can You Do to Support Your Kidneys?
Steps you can take to lower your odds of developing kidney problems include:
- Avoiding exposure to chemicals and toxins
- Stress management
- Avoid foods that can weaken the kidney by eliminating inflammatory causing foods
- Consume an anti-inflammatory diet
The following foods are also very beneficial to support and nourish your kidneys
- Filtered Water – staying hydrated is absolutely necessary for your kidney health
- Herbal Teas – such as burdock root, tulsi, dandelion, ginger and stinging nettle all help to cleanse the kidneys
- Cranberries – are fantastic as they aid in preventing and treating UTI’s, so it’s a great way to support your kidneys
- Lemons – aid digestion, detoxification and benefits the kidneys and liver
- Celery Juice – is also another fantastic food to support and improve kidney function and aid in preventing UIT’s. Celery aids to re-balance electrolytes because it contains sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, and phosphorus.
- Blueberries – contain a compound called ‘resveratrol’ which aids in rescuing kidney mitochondrial function
- Tangerines – have been found to dissolve both kidney and gall stones
- Cucumber – helps to cleanse and purify the kidneys as well as dissolve kidney stones
- Turmeric – studies have indicated that turmeric can help various kidney disorders primarily due to its anti-inflammatory properties and without the usual side effects
- Beetroots – support and cleanse the kidneys as well as the blood
- Seaweed – such as dulse , chlorella and spirulina aids in detoxing heavy metals from the body which will help to support and cleanse the kidneys
- Parsley – It’s used as a diuretic and helps to reduce the build-up of toxins in the kidneys and the entire urinary tract
- Mushrooms – Vitamin D is required for good kidney health and mushrooms are the best whole food, plant-based source. Vitamin D has been found to regulate kidney function and many help prevent kidney disease
- Antioxidant Rich Foods – such as asparagus, berries, turmeric, wild-caught salmon, sweet potatoes, green tea, olive oil, coconut oils, apples, pears and cherries are rich in antioxidants which aid in balancing sodium, potassium and phosphorous
- Ginger – contains compounds that may provide protection against inflammatory diseases involving the kidneys
- Onions & Garlic – both onions and garlic contain quercetin. Research has found quercetin helps provide protection against kidney damage for smokers. For non-smokers, the bonus protection provided by quercetin combined with improved fat metabolism helps protect the body’s filters
If you already enjoy these foods regularly, you’re helping to support your kidneys.
Happy changing habits
Jordan Pie – Changing Habits Nutritionist & GAPS Practitioner
Disclaimer: All the information in this blog post is not to be construed as medical advice or instruction. Please consult your physician or qualified health care practitioner on any serious matters regarding your kidney health.