When was the last time you thought about your kidneys? No judgment here, I am a doctor of natural medicine and they are not constantly on my mind either. Most of us don’t pay much attention to our bodies. That is until something goes horribly wrong and it cries out in pain. I wonder what our lives would look like if we actively spent more time preventing them from breaking down and less time dealing with the fall out that comes from our neglect. In my line of work, I don’t come across a whole lot of people looking to make a preventative strike on their health. More often than not, my clients are already hip-deep in the quicksand that comes from years of neglect.
Knowledge Is Power
It is my goal to educate individuals on their health and bodies. In an attempt to help them take back control of their health and lives. To that end, I began several educational series. Last quarter was dedicated to introducing some of our hormones. As it turns out, several individuals are experiencing multiple hormonal imbalances. This got me thinking about the different organs that produce these hormones. If an organ was in poor health the hormones it produces should reflect that. And just like that, the organ series was born. This quarter we are breaking down all the organs that produce hormones in the body (don’t worry we can always cover the remaining organs and hormones at a later date). Given that kidney, awareness day is this week we clearly need to give them the attention they deserve.
Kidneys More Than Just Filters
First off, our kidneys do more than just act as a filter for the body. Like most organs in our bodies, they are hard at work providing us with the support we need to function day today. We each have two of them (on average there are always exceptions), they are approximately 11 centimeters in length and located in the small of our backs. They receive blood from renal arteries which exist into renal veins. Each kidney is attached to the bladder via a ureter. Some of the main functions of the kidney are to control the volume of various body fluid compartments, fluid osmolarity, acid-base balance, electrolyte concentrations, and the removal of toxins.
Filtration occurs via the glomerulus, which is a network of blood vessels. Here our bodies are able to remove water and other substances that the body may be low in as a way of self-regulating. When we neglect or mistreat our kidneys they are unable to aid in this self-regulating process. The kidneys also convert a precursor of vitamin D into its active form, Calcitriol, and produce additional hormones such as Renin and Erythropoietin. Calcitriol is used to treat kidney disease, hyperparathyroidism, hypoparathyroidism, osteoporosis, osteomalacia, and familial hypophosphatemia. Renin also is known as angiotensinogenase, is an aspartic protease protein and enzyme that helps mediate the volume of extracellular fluid. Erythropoietin is a glycoprotein cytokine that helps stimulate the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow.
Put It All Together
What does all that mean? To put it simply our kidneys do more than just act as filters for the body. They are also constantly working to keep fluid pressure regular. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of dealing with a burst pipe, trust me it is NOT fun when the pressure builds up. Our kidneys also act as our body’s natural scavengers. By removing any substances in our blood and urine that our body is running low in. Think of them as one of the doomsday prepares of the body. However, on that note, you also have to make sure that they are not storing too much like a hoarder situation (kidney stones). On top of all that, they are also responsible for the production of hormones that help produce red blood (critical for a living) and balancing out our electrolytes.
Foods For Kidney Health
Clearly, their health and happiness should be a priority for all of us. Not sure how you can help your overworked kidneys? No worries, the following is a list of foods you can increase that will promote happy and healthy kidneys:
- Red Grapes
- Red Bell Peppers
- Olive Oil
Keep Things Flowing
You may have noticed that ALL of these foods are high in water content. The majority also contain high levels of water-soluble vitamins. For those of you who do not know there are two types of vitamins: water-soluble and fat-soluble. We need both, however, it is possible to overdose on fat-soluble vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C are typically removed from the body as urine making some of our urine more expensive than others.
Bad Habits To Break
There are several habits that can harm your kidneys. A great way to prevent damage to them is by educating yourself. The following is a list of habits that can cause damage to your kidneys:
- Holding In Your Pee (when you gotta go, go!)
- Not Drinking Enough Water
- High Salt Consumption
- High Protein Diet
- Ignoring Infections
- Too Much Caffeine
- Drinking An Excess Of Alcohol
- Regular Use Of Analgesics
- Lack Of Sleep
More Damage Than You Think
Holding in your pee can cause excess strain on your kidneys as well as strain your bladder, which can lead to even more health issues. We are made up of about 70% of water (depending on age). It is one of the most pivotal things we can all do to improve our health. Salt actually causes us to retain water. Given that it is the kidney’s job to maintain fluid balance this forces it to work overtime, the same with alcohol and caffeine. Protein is one of the most difficult things for the body to breakdown. Don’t get me wrong we need it, it is just hard to breakdown, and as such can cause an excess of acid production. Smoking damages your blood cells which in turn affects the kidney’s ability to process it. Lastly, a lack of sleep can be devastating on all of our hormones and bodily systems.
Healthy Habits To Keep
Still not quite sure how to keep your kidneys happy and healthy? No worries the following is a list of the golden rules for healthy kidneys:
- Keep Fit & Active
- Regulate Blood Sugar Levels
- Eat Healthy
- Monitor Blood Pressure
- Avoid Smoking
- Stay Hydrated
- Avoid Pain Killers
- Check Your Kidneys Regularly
A Little Goes A Long Way
Hopefully, this article will help you get the most out of your kidneys. Just remember unlike a filter we can swap out, your kidneys are much harder to replace. Take care of your kidneys and they will take care of you! Because I want you to have a way to use these tips as soon as possible I have included a few tasty ways to eat your way to better health. Given that it is kidney awareness month I thought I would double down and treat you with two recipes (one for each kidney) for each post this week! Get ready for some healthy and happy kidneys!
Need a Helping Hand?
A happy and healthy life is closer than you may think. Our health is something that we all have to deal with daily, and when we don’t feel our best, it shows. If you are tired of just making it through your day then you NEED to start investing in your health today! You are not alone on this journey. If you ever need any help I am always here to do just that. Even if it is something as small as just acting as a sounding board. Do you have any questions or concerns I can help you with? Feel free to contact me directly at [email protected] or you can even book a one-on-one call with me. Be sure to subscribe to gain access to tons of free goodies and check back daily for more great recipes and information!