Kidneys help remove extra water and toxins from the blood. But sadly, most of us take these vital organs for granted, leading to many cases of kidney disease. Here is a list of foods you should add to your diet for a healthy kidney.
Kidneys are one of the body’s biggest natural detoxifying components. Keeping your blood pressure under control can protect your kidneys and prevent kidney failure. Watching what you eat and drink will help you stay healthier.
Paul Lutaakome, a nutritionist at Jinja Referral Hospital, says water is the best ingredient for overall water balance in the body. You need to aim for six to eight glasses a day, depending on your body weight and how often you feel thirsty.
“Water helps flush out toxins that can lead to bacterial infection or kidney stones, along with harmful particles in the blood. Water is absolutely the best cleanser and if you drink enough of it, you may not get frustrated about detoxifying,” he says.
Apples are a low potassium fruit that act as a natural cleanser for the body. They keep the kidneys cleansed without causing frequent urination. “They are a good source of pectin fibre that removes excess cholesterol and regulates blood sugar levels,” Lutaakome says.
Cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, cabbage and mustard greens are known for their high fibre content and distinctive taste. They are also high in beneficial plant compounds and may increase the liver’s natural detoxification enzymes, help protect it from damage and improve blood levels of liver enzymes.
“Kale is an important source of Vitamins A and C that prevent inflammation and protect the immune system. It has lower potassium content than some vegetables and contains a large amount of iron. Iron is important for healthy kidney function since many people with kidney disease have an iron deficiency,” Lutaakome says.
Berries are good for people with chronic kidney disease and those on dialysis. Beyond the daily boost, berries such as blueberries, raspberries and strawberries contain less Potassium per serving.
“Berries are a great option for maintaining healthy kidneys, because they provide flavonoid antioxidants which help to rid the body of free radicals. An excess of free radicals is thought to trigger a number of kidney conditions,” says Lutaakome.
Blueberries also maintain the vascular function of kidneys, and raise the antioxidant defenses in the kidneys. Other healthy foods for the kidneys include seeds and nuts, pumpkins, beetroot juice, garlic and onions, grapes and fish.
To keep your kidneys healthy, you must avoid consuming too many protein-loaded foods or foods that are, in general, not good for health. You should also go for walks or run to keep your body functioning properly.
Finally, always keep your doctor informed about your food habits if you are suffering from kidney disease.
Sodium (salt) is found in almost all foods. If your sodium intake is high, you will get too thirsty, which can lead to swelling and escalating of your blood pressure. This often damages your kidneys. Limiting the amount of salt you eat is therefore one of the healthiest ways to keep your kidneys healthy.
Too much potassium can be dangerous if you have kidney disease. Work with your dietitian to find foods that are low in sodium and potassium.
“High protein diets should be avoided, especially if they are animal-based foods. This is because processed meats such as sausages and bacon and other animal foods contribute to inflammation while high phosphorus-containing foods can cause kidney stones,” he warns.
If you do not have kidney disease but want to eat a healthy diet for your kidneys, get a balance of both potassium-rich and moderate-potassium containing foods from fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds.