~ by Dr. Scott Olson, ND
Healthy kidneys are vital to our overall health. And with kidney disease being a mostly silent killer, many experts suggest a pro-active approach to prevention by way of a kidney detox diet several times a year…or ideally, as a way of living out the rest of your life.
Step 1: drink more water
The kidneys are designed to handle toxins and they are tough, but there are limits to how much damage they can endure. When you dilute toxins with water, they become less powerful. If you are drinking enough water, then you are not only helping to flush out the toxins, you are also diluting the toxins as they pass through the kidneys.
The best way to know whether or not you’re getting enough water is to check your urine. It should be a very light yellow color or clear. If your urine is bright yellow, you know you’re not drinking enough water. Remember though, certain vitamins can turn your urine bright yellow, too.
Step 2: detoxify through colon cleansing
Detoxification and colon cleansing is an age-old way to increase your vitality, energy, and your general health.
The benefits for your liver and colon have long been known, but new research is beginning to show that the kidneys benefit as well. Many of the herbs and vitamins used in colon cleansing are directly helpful to the kidneys (see above).
And if the colon and liver are working well, it makes the kidneys’ job much easier. The liver and the kidneys work as a team; the more efficient the liver is at packaging up toxins, the more quickly the kidneys can expel them from the body.
Step 3: control diabetes and heart disease
Since heart disease and diabetes are two of the main culprits in damaging the kidneys, it is vital to control these diseases. How to do this is beyond the scope of this article, however, you ought to know that both of these diseases are treatable with natural remedies. Consult your health care provider in order to ensure you are getting proper treatment.
Step 4: kick the salt
More often than not, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and sodium are interrelated. Should you kick salt out of your life? If you have high blood pressure, then yes – reduce or eliminate salt from your diet because high blood pressure does a lot of damage to your kidneys.
Even if you don’t have high blood pressure, you still ought to try to eliminate as many sources of salt as you can.
Get into the habit of reading food labels in order to lower your sodium choices. Salt is found in a great many foods; it is especially high in the following:
- Cured and smoked foods such as bacon, ham, and luncheon meats
- Fast foods and snack foods
- Pickled foods such as olives, sauerkraut, and pickles
- Some canned or prepared foods
- Soups and processed cheese
If you use salt, use a naturally processed salt, or sea salt with beneficial minerals in it.
Step 5: proper nutrition
It goes without saying that our bodies’ systems work best when we give them proper nutrition, and the kidneys are no exception. There are many nutrients the kidneys need to properly function.
Also make sure you are eating well. A vitamin can never take the place of good food and the nutrients found in fresh foods. This does not mean that you don’t need vitamins, only that you made need to take good vitamins AND eat well.
Through your diet, you can help minimize the buildup of waste products and fluid in your blood, as well as decrease the burden on your kidneys.
In the early stages of kidney disease, it is important to control the amount of sodium, phosphorus, and protein you consume. It is also important to ensure your caloric intake is adequate.
Avoid high phosphorous foods
Weakened kidneys may struggle to remove phosphorus from the blood. High blood phosphorus levels in turn can lead to calcium loss. Eating fewer phosphorous-high foods, such as the following, may be helpful:
- Dairy products such as cheese, milk, puddings, and yogurt
- Legumes such as kidney beans, lentils, and split peas
- Nuts and peanut butter
- Beer, cocoa, and cola soft drinks
Eat less protein
A loss of kidney function may make it necessary to reduce protein intake in order to avoid a buildup of urea – a waste product of protein. Dairy products, meat, and seafood contain large amounts of protein; breads, cereals, grains, starches, and fruits and vegetables contain smaller amounts.
Limit protein intake, but ensure you are eating an adequate amount.
Some vitamins and minerals are affected by a loss of kidney functioning. Talk to your health care provider or dietician about supplementation that is not harmful to your kidneys.
Most often, B complex and vitamin C are recommended, along with calcium and vitamin D3. Iron tablets are sometimes desirable, but only if your health care provider has suggested it.