Organs of the urinary system, the kidneys perform vital functions for the proper functioning of the body. These organs, which are often strained, need to be maintained to continue to fulfill their roles.
To take care of the kidneys, a healthy lifestyle and good eating habits are essential. In the event of kidney disease, new dietary rules are required. In this article, we will show you foods you should eat in adequate quantities to maintain good kidney health.
What are the kidneys
The kidneys are organs located under the ribs on either side of the spine. A kidney is approximately 11 cm long and is made up of two parts: the cortex and the medulla. An individual generally has 2 kidneys which play a role in filtering the blood and maintaining mineral substances in the body.
The roles of the kidneys
The kidneys are vital organs that play a major role in the formation of urine, filtration of the blood, elimination of waste products, production of hormones, and the balance of the internal environment.
The kidneys work by removing toxic wastes from the blood. The main toxic substance in the body is urea, which comes from protein, creatinine, and uric acid. Urea is carried in the urine and is excreted during urination.
The kidneys are also involved in the balance of minerals essential to the body. The function of the kidneys is to keep the levels of potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and sodium at a constant level in the body to avoid possible deficiencies or excess. The excess of these minerals is excreted in the urine. It is important to note that too much phosphorus in the blood should be avoided to maintain healthy bones.
Healthy kidneys keep enough water in the body. Excess water is eliminated in the urine and stool, but also through perspiration and respiration. The kidneys pass about 1.5 liters of urine per day.
The kidneys also play a role in the secretion of hormones. They produce renin which acts on the regulation of blood pressure and which prevents cardiovascular risks. They also secrete erythropoietin, which is responsible for the production of red blood cells for the oxygenation of the body.
Finally, the kidneys are responsible for the synthesis of calcitriol, which helps with the absorption of calcium from the intestines and into the bones.
Many diseases can affect the kidneys. These conditions have different origins, but all lead to kidney failure if not properly treated in time.
List of kidney diseases
Diseases of the kidneys can be glomerular disorders, chronic interstitial nephropathies, vascular or congenital, and hereditary diseases. Here are some kidney diseases:
- Glomerular damage linked to general diseases
- Professional chemical or drug poisoning
- Polycystic disease
- Alport Syndrome
Kidney failure is a condition characterized by deterioration of the kidneys and their progressive inability to filter blood and secrete hormones. It results from the kidney dysfunctions previously mentioned above, but can also be due to other diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
Kidney failure can also occur due to chronic dehydration, untreated infections, too much calcium in the blood, high uric acid levels, an enlarged prostate, or exposure to toxic products.
Symptoms of kidney failure
A person with kidney failure may have the following symptoms:
- Swollen ankles
- Pain during urination and reduced urine output
- A very frequent urge to urinate
- High blood pressure
- Dark-colored urine
- Great fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- Rapid weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sleep disturbances and headaches
- Pain in the lower back
In the event of these symptoms appearing, it is advisable to consult a doctor promptly to have a rapid diagnosis of the personal situation.
What to eat to cleanse or protect the kidneys
Eating a good diet is necessary for optimizing kidney function and keeping the kidneys healthy. To preserve the health of the kidneys and avoid possible kidney problems that may occur, it is advisable to regularly consume certain foods that detoxify and cleanse the kidneys.
Here is the list of kidney-friendly foods
Rich in antioxidants and minerals, olive oil is easy to incorporate into everyday meals. It cleans the kidneys by helping them eliminate toxins that interfere with the proper functioning of the body.
A true ally for your health, this fruit has a high water content in addition to being rich in vitamins and minerals. Also good in its natural state, in juice, or in a fruit salad, watermelon should be eaten regularly, especially during hot periods to maintain good hydration and to detoxify the kidneys.
This citrus fruit with many virtues has beneficial effects on the treatment of kidney disorders. It is advisable to consume lemon juice in large quantities in case of kidney stones. Its purifying virtue is due to its acidity. Including lemon in the diet cleanses the kidneys and promotes kidney function to treat or prevent kidney disease.
The antioxidant properties of ginger make it a beneficial food for kidney function. Ginger is also known for its cleansing and purifying properties. Consuming this food regularly helps to flush out toxins and purify the blood, thereby cleaning the kidneys.
With anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric helps prevent possible inflammation that can affect the kidneys and hinder their functioning. This spice recognized for its antiseptic properties also prevents and treats kidney infections.
This food is one of the best allies against kidney problems. Eating parsley regularly helps remove all toxins from the blood. It is effective in the treatment of kidney stones and urinary tract infections.
Having purifying and antiseptic properties, nettle prevents and treats infections of the urinary system in addition to fighting bacterial infections. Nettle infusion is a detoxifying and purifying drink, ideal for maintaining the proper functioning of the kidneys and preventing possible infections and kidney problems.
Interesting sources of water and antioxidants, red fruits work with the kidneys to eliminate toxins from the blood. Eaten raw, in a compote, in juice, or in a salad, these healthy allies help to balance kidney functions. However, it is advisable to consume them in moderation to avoid possible side effects due to their high sugar content.
The soluble fiber present in quantity in apples helps to eliminate wastes and toxins in the body. Regular consumption of apples helps purify and cleanse the kidneys.
People with kidney problems should limit their salt intake. Garlic helps flavor dishes without using too much salt. In addition, it is a source of vitamin C and B6. It also offers important anti-inflammatory properties.
Dandelion leaves help eliminate water retention and make the kidneys work easier by inducing urination. This diuretic plant prevents kidney problems and infections of the urinary system.
Cabbage is good for the kidneys. It is rich in vitamins and minerals while being low in potassium, phosphorus, and sodium, three elements which in large quantities become detrimental to the kidneys.
Carrots, rich in water and antioxidants, prevent, among other things, the formation of stones in our kidneys.
Besides being very low in minerals such as sodium and potassium, red peppers contain useful antioxidant compounds, which can protect cells from damage.
Many tropical fruits like oranges, bananas, and kiwis are very high in potassium. Pineapple is the exception!
It is therefore a good alternative for people who have kidney problems. The fruit is also high in fiber, manganese, vitamin C, and bromelain, an enzyme that helps reduce inflammation.
What diet to adopt in case of kidney failure
To reduce the consequences of kidney failure and slow the progression of the disease, it is necessary to adopt a specific diet.
- Favor alkalizing foods: consuming alkalizing foods reduces the negative effects of acidifying foods to ensure a correct acid-base balance in the body. Adopting an alkalizing diet can limit the acid load from the consumption of acidifying foods. The latter can indeed have negative effects on kidney function. It is therefore advisable to reduce the consumption of meat, eggs and cereals which are acidifying foods, in favor of plants such as fresh vegetables and fresh fruits. However, be vigilant about the excess potassium, which is present in abundance in fruits and vegetables.
- Limit your protein intake: difficult to eliminate, proteins transformed into urea are stored in the blood and hamper the purifying function of the kidneys. It is advisable to consume 0.8 g of protein per kg/day. Although too much protein is a risk factor for the progression of kidney failure, it is important not to over-limit or completely remove this nutrient from the diet to maintain protein intake.
- Consume more vegetable proteins: For people with kidney failure, it is advisable to prefer vegetable proteins to animal proteins. Consuming legumes allows you to benefit from an interesting protein intake.
- Reduce your potassium consumption: Potassium is known to negatively affect the kidneys. it is advisable to limit the consumption of pulses such as red beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, grain products as well as fruits rich in potassium such as peaches, avocado, mangoes or even bananas and dried fruits. You can reduce the potassium level in vegetables by cutting them into small pieces and boiling them for 15 minutes.
- Beware of excess phosphorus and calcium: it is important to limit the consumption of foods rich in phosphorus and calcium such as beer, milk, chocolate, cheese, and pulses.
- Limit salt intake: your daily salt intake should not exceed 6 g/day. In case of kidney failure, it is necessary to pay attention to foods rich in salt such as bread, cheese, cold meats, snacks, etc.
- Drink enough water: drinking enough water helps reduce the risk of kidney problems. Staying hydrated also limits the risk of kidney stones and urinary tract infections. In case of kidney failure, it is important to drink at least 1.5 liters of water per day.
- Avoid tobacco: while tobacco and alcohol are undoubtedly bad for your health, they are particularly bad for the kidneys. For example, toxic substances from cigarettes accumulate in your kidneys. Their presence causes damage to the kidney tissue and loss of function.
Video — Foods to Cleanse and Protect the Kidneys
Born in London, England and raised in Orlando, FL, Elena graduated from the University of Central Florida with a bachelors’ degree in Health Sciences. She later received her masters’ in Creative Writing from Drexel University. She writes part-time for the Scientific Origin and focuses mostly on health related issues.