If you can believe it, one in three adult Americans is at risk of kidney disease. Responsible for removing waste products and excess fluids from the body, healthy kidneys are essential for optimal body function. In today’s world, where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to avoid toxins — from food, from consumer products, and from the very environment in which we live — healthy kidneys are crucial for detoxification.
Modern medicine encourages us to turn to pharmaceuticals when we have a health issue, further perpetuating the “bandaid effect.” Contrary to popular belief, we have many natural alternatives to conventional medicine at our disposal, as well as numerous preventative measures, too.
Here are 5 simple ways to keep your kidneys healthy and functioning properly:
Drink Enough (But Not Too Much) Water
Your doctors weren’t kidding when they said you should drink at least eight cups of water per day. However, the amount of water you should be drinking is specific to your body. For example, eight cups of water is not enough water to hydrate my body, but it would be far too much for someone experiencing kidney failure. Factors like physical activity and climate will also influence your body’s water needs.
Your kidneys actually regulate the amount of water in your body and remove any excess water or retain it when the body is lacking. So, if your kidneys are failing, water restriction is often recommended because your kidneys can no longer help get rid of the excess amount.
Water helps the kidneys remove excess waste from your blood through urine. Water also helps keep your blood vessels open so that your blood can be transported easily to your kidneys and send essential nutrients to them. Dehydration can negatively impact this process, and severe dehydration can actually lead to kidney damage.
Your kidneys love a balanced diet, filled with vitamins and minerals and not too much salt or fat. Eating a more plant-based diet with lots of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables is the best way to give your kidneys some love! Of course, all of this depends on the current health of your kidneys. For example, if your kidneys are damaged, it is often recommended that you consume less protein, particularly less animal protein, because it’s more difficult for your kidneys to remove the waste it produces.
It’s also suggested that you watch your intake of phosphorous, as damaged kidneys can result in an accumulation of phosphorous in the blood. Bran cereals, oatmeal, animal products including dairy and processed meats, nuts, seeds, and lentils all contain high amounts of phosphorous. Phosphorus is also often added to many processed foods, so make sure you read the labels of the packaged foods you purchase and avoid fast food.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), ginger can help strengthen the kidneys (and the entire reproductive system, as that’s what the kidneys represent), particularly ginger tea, which nourishes the bladder and can kill parasites. Too many sweets and high sugar foods are said to weaken the kidneys. And one of the most nourishing foods for the kidneys is actually sweet potatoes, according to TCM.
Drink Less Alcohol
Regular heavy drinking typically doubles the risk of kidney disease. Binge drinking (more than four of five drinks over the course of two hours) can raise a person’s blood alcohol level quickly, which can cause sudden trauma to the kidneys, referred to as “acute kidney injury.”
Alcohol also inhibits hormone release from the pituitary gland, a hormone that normally causes the kidneys to reabsorb water and electrolytes. So, instead of being reabsorbed, it’s eliminated in the urine when the body consumes too much alcohol.
Reduce Your Sodium Intake
As previously mentioned, it’s important to watch your sodium intake when it comes to kidney health, especially if your kidneys are already damaged. If your kidneys are having trouble eliminating excess sodium and fluid from the body, then this can result in high blood pressure, which could further damage your kidneys.
Although the USDA recommends, at the very most, 2,500 mg of sodium per day, a healthy intake of sodium for your body is completely dependent on your overall health. If you have any health issues, particularly kidney damage or heart problems, your recommended intake would be much lower.
Keep in mind that some sodium is perfectly fine, it just depends on the source. Natural salt found in vegetables like celery is great, and so is consuming a little bit of Himalayan salt. It’s processed table salt and added salt to processed and other prepared foods that can harm the kidneys and your health in general. A single teaspoon of Himalayan salt contains around 478mg of unprocessed, natural sodium, which is a great alternative to iodized table salt.
Maintaining a healthy body weight and regularly exercising can decrease your risk of multiple health conditions, not just kidney disease! Through physical exertion, you can balance your weight and your blood pressure, allowing your kidneys to function properly. Again, people with kidney damage should consult a doctor to discuss how much exercise is appropriate for their individual body.
Much of the knowledge shared in this article wouldn’t just benefit your kidneys, but your entire body as a whole! Our organs work together to enable us to effectively control our bodies, and what better way to thank them for their hard work than to actually take care of them? Our kidneys play a vital role in the function of our bodies, so we should treat them with care.
I think it’s also important to note the energetic and emotional relationship we have with our kidneys. If you have any blockages on your sacral chakra, these could manifest into physical conditions around the sacral area, including kidney damage. Try meditating on this area and expressing your creativity; the health of your kidneys might improve by doing so!