“What, did the failed Kidney say to the donor Kidney?
I’m out; urine!”
Let’s hope this joke never becomes a reality for us…
Below your rib cage on either side of your spine are a pair of organs that look like, well, kidney beans. The namesake of the maroon-colored legumes, these organs are your kidneys.
Kidneys are crucial for your health. Put simply, they are the filtration system of the body. They filter blood of toxins, chemicals, and waste and allow it to leave your body via urine. They are the star players of the renal system, whose main function is essentially detox.
Secondary functions of the kidneys and renal system include balancing your electrolytes, blood pressure, and water balance. They also release certain hormones that help with blood cell production and blood pressure regulation.
When the kidneys begin to dysfunction or get overloaded with toxins and waste, a number of health issues can arise. Poor kidney health has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, weak bones, neuropathy, anemia, and kidney failure. Because kidneys are central to so many body systems, kidney dysfunction leads to a wide variety of health issues.
If you’re looking to boost the health of your kidneys, there are a number of things you can do in your diet and lifestyle. Below, we’ve listed six foods you can start adding to maintain healthy function of your kidneys.
1. Water-Rich Vegetables: Celery and Cucumbers
Kidney health starts with good water intake. Cucumbers and celery are two vegetables full of fiber and water that hydrate your body and renal system, allowing for your kidneys to function more effectively.
Specifically, celery has compounds that are hypothesized to help dissolve kidney stones, according to a 2019 study.
2. Antioxidant Rich Fruits: Berries
Similar to celery and cucumbers, berries are also a high-water food. In addition to their water content, they are extremely high in antioxidants—blueberries, cranberries, and black cherries especially.
Cranberries have often been connected to preventing UTIs for years. The research is still mixed on their efficacy, but adding fresh (or frozen) cranberries to your diet is a great way to boost your antioxidant intake and power your kidney health. Stay away from dried cranberries as they ALWAYS have sugar added in the drying process. Also, be careful with cranberry juice as it’s also often loaded with added sugar.
Blueberries and black cherries, on the other hand, are full of an antioxidant called resveratrol. This antioxidant has been connected to decreasing kidney disease development and improving the mitochondrial function in the kidneys. A handful of these dark berries multiple times a week can do wonders for your kidney health!
A less commonly consumed recommendation for kidney health is beets! If you’re a fan of The Office, you should know Dwight’s love for beets came with good reason, at least when it comes to kidney health.
Beets are full of nitric oxide (NO) which helps filter and cleanse the blood. They have been connected to improved metabolism, kidney function, and blood pressure.
If you’re unsure how to eat beets, try roasting them in the oven, having them pickled, or even chopping them up and adding them to a protein smoothie!
4. Citric Acid & Lemon Juice
You’ve likely heard of lemon water as a common recommendation for a detox, and this checks out. Lemon water—particularly the citric acid in lemon juice—can help break down kidney stones and benefit overall kidney health.
Add a spritz of lemon juice to your salads, sip some lemon juice in the mornings, or add it to your dishes at dinner to reap the benefits of lemon juice.
Seaweed, particularly its two byproducts of spirulina and chlorella, are jam packed with nutrients that boost kidney function. Research has shown that chlorella is particularly powerful in removing heavy metals from the body, which lightens the workload of the kidneys and helps cleanse them.
Make sure you buy the right brand of spirulina and chorella as they can often be contaminated.
Here are two that I trust:
BONUS: Drink more water!
Because your kidney is the filtration system of the body, adequate water intake is key to ensure the renal system can function properly. A 2014 study showed that increasing water intake improved kidney health and may slow kidney disease.
To calculate how much water you should drink daily, you can use the following simple equation:
Your weight / 2 = oz of water to drink each day.
150 lbs / 2 = 75 oz of water each day. One cup is roughly 8 fluid oz.
Kidney health and “cleansing” is necessary to your overall health and wellbeing. Aim to add in one or a few of these recommendations each week to boost your overall kidney health!
Your kidneys filter ~200 liters of fluid per day – show them some love!