What do you know about your kidneys? Most of us know that they are responsible for producing urine which is how we get rid of waste products, but that’s about it right?
My next-door neighbour passed away last month – from some kind of kidney failure. He’d been on dialysis for a couple of years so I assume he was on the waiting list for a transplant, but sadly, it didn’t happen in time. I’d known him since 1989 when he was fit and well and working full-time. Witnessing his decline over the years was sobering to say the least.
And figures from the US, show that in 1995 more than 3 million people had some type of kidney condition such as an infection, kidney stones or cancer.
If we are to avoid becoming one of those statistics and going the same way as my poor neighbour, it’s time to talk about kidney success instead of kidney failure and that means making sure we have healthy, happy kidneys. To do that, we need to better understand what they do and how to take care of them. Now as you know, I’m neither a doctor nor a nutritionist and ‘kidneys’ are a complex subject, so keeping things nice and simple and in layman’s terms, here we go…
What Your Kidneys Do – in a nutshell
You’ll find your kidneys (two bean-shaped organs, each about the size of your fist) in the middle of your back, just below your rib cage, on either side of your spine. Although the kidneys are small organs (about 0.5% of your total body weight), they receive about 20% of the blood pumped by your heart and that enables them to do the following:
– Regulate the composition of your blood and eliminate wastes
– Influence your blood pressure
– Stimulate the making of red blood cells
– Maintain your body’s calcium levels and vitamin D activation
So let’s look first at the function we all know about:
Once your kidneys receive the blood, it’s processed and returned to the body free from the wastes and other unwanted substances which have been filtered out to be expelled via the urine. Urine flows from the kidneys to the bladder where it’s stored until we take a tinkle.
But I bet you don’t know that your entire blood volume (about 7 to 8 litres) gets filtered approximately 20 to 25 times each day, on a good day. That’s a lot of filtering! And given that there is a limit to how many molecules can be filtered out in a given period of time, you can appreciate how easily we can overtax our kidneys when we introduce too many toxins into our body through diet, drugs and pollutants.
Kidneys and Calcium
I’ve talked before in this newsletter about the relationship between your kidneys and calcium. Your body stores calcium in your bones, but it also relies on maintaining constant levels of calcium in the blood through diet.
If the blood calcium level falls, then a hormone is released which increases calcium reabsorption in the kidneys to restore the blood calcium level. The same hormone, along with Vitamin D, also stimulates calcium release from bone and calcium absorption from the intestine, so healthy kidneys, along with diet, are important in protecting against osteoporosis. Kidney stones are often caused by problems in the kidneys’ ability to handle calcium.
3 Surefire Ways to Kidney Success
– #1 – Reduce the workload you place on your kidneys by curbing your intake of toxins and acid forming foods eg. red meat, salty foods, tea, coffee, additives, too much booze, cigarettes etc.
– #2 – Increase your intake of foods that strengthen kidney function. My favourite grain Quinoa is an excellent choice, as is Barley. Aduki, Black, Kidney and Mung beans will all help. Salmon and Trout are a good idea, as are the following vegetables and herbs – fennel, onions, spring onions, celery, beetroot, parsley, chives, garlic, ginger, cloves and dandelion.
– #3 – Make sure you drink enough water. This will help keep your kidneys flushed of excess acid. Enough is at least 2 litres over a day.
Follow these 3 pointers and you will certainly improve your kidneys’ health. It might also reduce lower back pain too and, as an added bonus, your hair will be beautiful, fast growing and strong.
Go on – because you really are worth it.