The Kidneys are one of the primary avenues our body eliminates toxins, excess hormones, and many other wastes. They regulate our fluid and mineral balances in the body, activate Vitamin D, and play a crucial role in blood pressure regulation. Any swelling or "fluid" build up in the body, commonly seen in the legs, is an indication that the kidneys might need some help in filtering your blood.
In end of life care, we actually will monitor kidneys closely because prognosis goes way down the more the kidneys fail.
So how do we take care of these two funny shaped organs? What things should you be doing to make sure this extremely important system is functioning optimally?
I would first like to say that it truly depends on your kidney health and for the sake of this article, the recommendations that follow will pertain to simple kidney prevention. As a patient moves through various stages of kidney failure, the treatment and recommendations drastically change. Please make note of this and seek medical advice if you are in Stages 2-5 kidney failure.
1. Lemon and Lime Water for Stone Prevention
The citric acid the lemons and limes offer can help prevent the formation of calcium crystals, a very common cause of kidney stones by preventing calcium from sticking to other surrounding minerals.
2. 4 ounces of unsweetened cranberry juice to prevent UTI's
Cranberry is rich in D-Mannose, a nutrient that actually can break down the cell walls of E. Coli, a common cause of UTI's. If you have an actually UTI, you will want to increase this dosage but obviously seek medical advice as you don't want UTI to get out of hand.
3. Aquaretic herbs for generalize maintenance and prevention
An aquaretic herb is an herb that acts like a diuretic but spares sodium and other minerals. In fact, these herbs usually provide minerals to a body that is usually mineral depleted.
Urtica dioica, Nettle Leaves
Equisetum arvense, horsetail
Zea mays, Corn silk
4. Hydration with straight up water
How much water should you drink? 1/2 your body weight in ounces and then add 2 additional cups per cup of caffeine you drink and more if you exercise.
How much should you be peeing? Anywhere between 4-10 x's a day and no more than 1x/night is ideal. If you can't get through a meeting, a 2 hour car journey without stopping (pending on how much you drink of course), or you are losing sleep; you might be showing signs of urinary frequency that you should seek medical advice for.
Too much salt and you get an increase in blood pressure. Remember, water will follow salt. More salt in the diet causes more water to stay in the body, the more water in the body puts more pressure in the tubes (aka blood vessels), and thus higher blood pressure. But too little salt causes dehydration. You need Na+ (sodium) and Cl- (chloride) for numerous processes in the body. So "no salt" is not recommend but how much is good? Salting your food with a Sea Salt provides minerals other than NaCl but when you eat a diet predominately from processed/boxed/pre-packaged foods, fast food, and restaurants, you get an obscene amount of salt. Eating mostly from meals you've cooked at home and from fresh ingredients, while this will require salting your food, its not near as much. In this circumstance, salting is encouraged.
Think 1 tsp of salt a day as your baseline reference.
This is really about diabetes prevention. Normally, the kidneys will filter and excrete sugars just fine. When your glucose levels get too high, this damages blood vessels throughout the entire body and the kidneys can get damaged in the process.
So... in regards to blood sugar and sugar in general, think about diabetes prevention.
Decrease or eliminate processed sugars
If you eat a sugary meal, eat it with a protein and a fiber to slow down the absorption of that sugar. Example: Chocolate covered almonds
Fiber is your friend as fiber will bind to excess sugar and help you eliminate via the stool.
Protein intake needs to be closely monitored when you have varying stages of kidney disease. Protein doesn't damage the kidneys but when the kidneys are already struggling for whatever reason, they might have a harder time filtering out the metabolites that are made after protein digestion and utilization. So, high protein diets aren't necessarily
"bad" per se but it is good to monitor kidney function. You want to aim for about 20 grams of protein per meal.
Turkey or chicken instead of fattier beef options
Lean ground beef is better
Black bean burgers
Beans and lentils
Nuts and seeds
Protein bars and protein shakes
Hopefully you've learned a thing or two and gathered a few tips for taking care of your kidneys. Stay hydrated, have your sea salt, and keep tinkling.
Davita Kidney Care. www.davita.com/diet-nutrition
World Kidney Day. www.worldkidneyday.com