Almost a tenth of global population is down with kidney issues. These bean-shaped organs are vital to our survival. Apart from throwing out wastes and toxins from our body, they perform regulatory functions too. Hormones released by kidneys play a significant role in blood pressure regulations.
If you are suffering from other medical conditions like diabetes and blood pressure, your kidneys get affected in a negative way. In fact, if you can keep the above two diseases at bay, your kidney disorders will be addressed. Not only there are certain foods to avoid, but it is also essential you add certain foods to your diet to improve kidney function naturally.
Kidney functioning is dependent on lifestyle and genes you have inherited, your gender and age. An unhealthy lifestyle like smoking and lack of physical workouts leading to obesity can play havoc with your kidneys.
Basic thoughts to improve kidney function naturally:
A kidney-friendly diet is recommended so that waste build-up in your blood is little. Too much waste would put your kidneys under stress. It is important to keep certain mineral consumption under check like:
- Sodium: Kidneys find it hard to throw out excess sodium from the body, pushing your blood pressure up. Recommended level is 2000 mg per day.
- Potassium: To improve kidney function naturally, potassium consumption should be lower than 2000 mg per day.
- Phosphorus: It is an uphill task for weak kidneys to filter out excess phosphorus from body. Recommended level of intake is 800 to 1000 mg per day.
- Protein: Wastes generated from protein metabolism is not easily excreted by kidneys. Hence a limit should be imposed on protein intake too. Animal protein, mainly meat and chicken, should be taken in moderation.
The best diet:
To improve kidney functions naturally, here are certain foods that are highly beneficial for kidney health and can be considered the best diet for this purpose.
- Cauliflowers: It is very nutritious, containing vitamins C and K and B vitamin Folates. A cup will give you 19 mg sodium, 176 mg potassium and 40 mg phosphorus.
- Blueberries: Loaded with nutrients and antioxidants. The antioxidant anthocyanin present is good for heart, prevents specific types of cancers, diabetes and improves brain performance. A cup (148 gm) has 1.5 mg sodium, 114 mg potassium and 18mg phosphorus.
- Sea Bass: Rich in Omega 3 fats and quality protein. 85 gm of cooked sea bass holds 74mg sodium, 279mg potassium and 211 mg phosphorus.
- Red grapes: Don’t underestimate red grapes comparing them to green ones. They help improve kidney function naturally. Packed with vitamin C and antioxidant flavonoids, it has a remedial effect on inflammation. Half a cup (75gms) contains 1.5 mg sodium, 144 mg potassium and 15 mg phosphorus.
- Egg whites: Egg whites contain top quality protein that is not harmful to kidneys. It is good for patients on dialysis as their protein requirement is high for restricting phosphorus. Two large egg whites hold 110 mg of sodium, 108 mg of potassium and 10 mg of phosphorus.
- Garlic: To prevent dialysis, intake of salt is to be reduced to a negligible quantity. Garlic plays a substitute for salt. They are tasty, heart-friendly and nutritious. They add aroma to your food. These little cloves are loaded with vitamin C and B 6, manganese and sulfur compounds and have anti-inflammatory properties as well. Three cloves of garlic contain 1.5 mg sodium, 36 mg K and 14 mg phosphorus.
- Buckwheat: Buckwheat, unlike many whole grains, contains little quantity of kidney-damaging phosphorus. It also contains magnesium, generous quantities of vitamin B, iron and fiber. It is free from gluten, making it possible for consumption by people with gluten allergy. Half a cup holds 3.5 mg sodium, 74 mg potassium and 59 mg of phosphorus.
- Olive oil: It is kidney-friendly oil, containing mono-saturated fat called oelic acid with anti-inflammatory properties. An ounce packs 0.6 mg sodium and 0.3 mg potassium.
- Cabbage: Packed with vitamin C, K and a number of B vitamins, this nutrient rich vegetable contains only traces of sodium, potassium and phosphorus. 70 gm of diced cabbage holds 13 mg sodium, 119 mg potassium and 18 mg phosphorus.
- Skinless chicken: Contains high-quality protein and it is a healthy dietary recommendation for kidney patients. 84 gm of skinless chicken contains 63 mg sodium, 216 mg potassium and 192 mg phosphorus.
Mushrooms and certain floral species can improve kidney functions naturally:
Studies reveal members from the plant kingdom have beneficial impacts on kidney health. Here are a few examples:
- Dandelion: These yellow flowers have diuretic properties, enhancing kidney performance. They are a storehouse of antioxidants.
- Licorice: A study in 2014 found the presence of healthy compound glycyrrhizin in licorice which prevents injury to kidneys. It fights organ inflammation and improves kidney function.
- Milk thistle: A 2012 research revealed this plant kingdom member prevents kidneys from damage by Type 2 diabetes. Another study in 2016 found milk thistle helped kidneys in its detoxification function.
- Poria: This is a mushroom extensively used in ancient Chinese medicines. It has diuretic properties and facilitates urination. Aids in kidney metabolism, preventing damage to kidneys.
- Reishi: Reishi mushroom prevents kidneys from the onslaught of Type 2 diabetes. This was revealed in a 2014. It keeps kidneys free from toxin accumulation.
- Turkey tail: This is a colorful mushroom, protecting kidneys against inflammation. However, the efficacy of Turkey tail in blocking kidney damage is under investigation.
Lifestyle management needed to improve kidney function naturally:
Improving your kidney function is as simple as drinking a lot of water. You have to keep yourself hydrated by drinking certain liquids which are good for the kidney. There are some other simple things you have to do, and also not to do, and you’d amaze your doctor with your kidneys’ new found health. You have to commit to do everything necessary to ensure that your kidneys are in great health. Just follow these tips conscientiously to keep your kidneys healthy.
1. Cranberry Juice
This is the juice favored by both allopathic and alternative systems of medicine, as being the most beneficial for the kidneys, especially for those people who are prone to kidney stones. Cranberries also contain certain compounds which stop e. coli, and are responsible for most UTIs (urinary tract infections). If you have diabetes, search for cranberry juice which has low sugar, or you may try cranberry supplements and dried cranberries.
2. Lime and lemon based citrus juices
The citrus in lemon/lime prevents kidney stones from forming as well as getting bigger. The best option for those with kidney stone problems is fresh lemonade or lime juice squeezed at home. That way, you can avoid packaged lemonade which has a lot of sugar. Try adding as little sugar as possible or add stevia leaves (available online too, these days), to sweeten your drink naturally, and add some salt instead. Crush some mint leaves, grate the rind of the lemon and add lots of ice to enjoy a homemade lemon mojito.
Goes without saying, this elixir of life is the simplest way to keep your kidneys healthy. It helps the kidneys to filter waste and toxins from your blood. If your kidneys are in bad shape, and require dialysis, then you have to follow your doctor’s advice regarding the amount of water you can drink. And those who have a tendency to form stones, should make sure that they drink enough water to prevent dehydration which causes stones in the kidneys. A sign that you are drinking enough water and other liquids is the color of your urine, it should be clear to light yellow. So, keep yourself hydrated by drinking adequate water. Avoid over drinking.
Liquids are great for the kidneys, and if you get tired of water, you can get fruits and vegetables to do double duty. Juice kidney friendly vegetables such as raspberries, cranberries, strawberries, watermelon, parsley, carrot, cucumber, peach and pineapple separately or concoct interesting smoothies and juices to up your liquid content, and gain nutrition from these fruits and vegetables.
5. Avoid pain killers
One of the worst side effects of pain killers is their damage to the kidneys. Read the instructions regarding dosage on both OTC and prescription drugs to minimize risks. Try avoiding pain killers altogether if possible.
Exercise is beneficial for your overall health, as you might well know. But did you know that exercise directly benefits your kidneys too? Improved blood pressure, reduced fluid retention, reduction of fats in the blood helps to keep the kidneys in great shape. Your blood circulation improves as result of exercise which nourishes the kidneys. In short, regular exercise is good – it keeps you trim with a healthy sugar and blood pressure count. But over exercise could impose unnecessary strain on kidneys.
7. Avoid alcohol
Alcohol is a strict no-no as it impacts the liver, which in turn makes it difficult for the kidneys to filter blood, thus causing damage to the kidneys as well.
8. Avoid smoking
Quitting smoking would be good not only for your lungs but also for your kidneys. Nicotine from smoking builds a sticky coat inside your blood vessels, not letting enough blood flow to your kidneys. This is harmful to kidney health.Smoking slows down the flow of blood to the kidneys, and might even interfere with medicines which control blood pressure. It’s tough to quit, but it might be the best decision you make for your health.
9. Stand more
Some recent studies have found that sitting at a stretch for approximately eight hours every day can lead to kidney related diseases. Getting up and stretching your legs every two hours or so for about 10-15 minutes might help you in keeping diseases at bay.
10. Get yourself checked
Check to see the protein in the urine and creatinine in the blood, as increased levels of these can indicate some kidney disease.
Avoiding excess salt and losing weight are other things which can help to keep kidneys healthy. It’s actually quite simple to maintain kidney health – all you have to do is to stay hydrated which you can do by drinking your favorite juices or by drinking water, of course.
11. Eat healthy
Like we’ve already mentioned in the article, eating healthy is what all boils down to. Wrong eating habits welcome high blood pressure and diabetes. According to an eminent Nephrologist, Dr Janes Simon, MD, if diabetes, weight and blood pressure are in control, your kidneys will be in great shape and form.
12. Monitoring kidney health:
Everyone should have a health check up every year. But, on top of all that, if you also happen to be a patient of diabetes and high blood pressure, it is advised you get a regular report on your kidney profile. Consulting with a specialist is the next obvious step.
13. Supplements and herbal medication:
Nowadays, sine both health and medicine are budding markets, both are filled with plenty of quacks. In certain cases, the doctor might end up suggesting you something that could be detrimental for your kidney health. So, you have to be very cautious and talk to the doctor if you are on vitamin supplements and herbal medicines., as indiscriminate use may damage your kidneys.
A few more thoughts on how to improve kidney function naturally:
- Kidneys are vital to your life for maintaining your BP level and expunging toxic wastes. It is high time we give deliberation to ways to improve kidney function naturally.
- Kidney disorder can be genetic. Ask your parents if you inherit that faulty gene. If yes, see a specialist for specific counseling.
- Vitamin D has a beneficial impact on kidney health. Low vitamin D causes kidney disorder. Sun is the best source of this vitamin. Stand for 15 minutes in the sun regularly to get adequate quantity of this vitamin.