Our kidneys are important for our wellbeing, not least that they are one of the five organs that work on our detox mechanisms (alongside the bowels, lungs, liver and skin). The kidneys excrete wastes and foreign substances from the body via the urine, which helps to maintain our blood osmolarity. Other roles of the kidneys include regulating blood volume and blood glucose levels, maintaining blood pressure, and producing hormones.
Signs that the kidneys may be less than optimum –
- Changes in frequency of urination, or to the colour/smell of urine
- Puffiness around the eyes or ankles
- Pain in the back under the lower ribs
- Pain or burning during urination
Looking after the kidneys will ensure our other detox organs are prevented from unnecessary strain, and maintain overall health. So how can we look after them?
HYDRATION – drinking plenty of fresh filtered water, and ensuring we have a good intake of minerals and electrolytes (found naturally in fresh fruits and vegetables, mineral waters and good quality salts such as Himalayan pink salt). This is particularly important when sweating is increased through heat due to weather, saunas or exercise. The urine should be straw coloured, and dark or strong smelling urine can indicate dehydration. Soft drinks, artificial sweeteners and sugars will all effect the kidneys negatively and should be avoided.
MAINTAINING GOOD BLOOD PRESSURE – eating well, managing stress, going to bed at a decent time to get enough sleep and regular exercise will all help blood pressure balance and care for your kidneys. High blood pressure is one of the most common causes of kidney disease.
AVOID EXCESSIVE ALCOHOL – this will raise the blood pressure, and interfere with blood sugar balance, as well as increasing fluid release to cause dehydration. In the very least alternate each alcohol drink with a glass of water to replenish the body with fluid and minerals.
MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT – this will keep blood pressure down and reduce risk of kidney disease overall. Try to include around 30 minutes of activity into your day – even a brisk walk is a healthy practice to get into.
AWARENESS OF MEDICATION EFFECTS – for example NSAIDs for pain can impact the kidneys if taken in the long term. Look for alternatives, such as guidance to improve the diet, and taking supplements and herbs to reduce inflammation naturally.
There are nutrients and foods that can support the function of our kidneys, such as Vitamin D (from sunlight, eggs & butter), green leafy veggies (Vits A & C), grapefruit & cranberries (Vit C), onions, garlic & apples (quercetin), cinnamon (blood sugar regulation), cherries, essential fats for reducing inflammation (cold pressed oils, avocado, deep sea fish).
Herbs include nettle, echinacea, dandelion, gotu kola, celery root and chickweed. These act as ‘depuratives’ to cleanse the blood and can be drank as a tea or mixed by your practitioner into a herbal tincture.
Look after your kidneys! If you feel you could benefit from support or guidance to maintain or improve your health, appointments can be made for a clinical consult, taking into account your medical history, current health state and ultimate wellness goals.