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The 4 Top Foods To Keep Your Kidneys Healthy
These are one of the unsung heroes of the body. They are essential to maintaining a healthy body. So why is it that we so often fail to give them the fuel they need to thrive? This article will explain why the kidneys are so important, and list the eight foods that are essential for making sure they keep running properly.
The kidneys are a pair of small organs in your lower back, roughly the size of your fist and shaped like beans (now you know how kidney beans got their name!). The kidneys’ job is to clean the blood. They act as a sort of biological garbage man for the circulatory system, removing impurities and excess water. This material is then sent to the bladder, where it becomes urine. From there, as you can probably figure it out, it ends up in the toilet when the bladder becomes full.
In addition to this, kidneys maintain proper levels of electrolytes like potassium and sodium, and they also produce hormones that in turn produce red blood cells and control blood pressure.
When you get bloodwork done, one of the primary things your doctor is usually checking for is kidney function. While your body has two kidneys, you can actually be quite healthy with only one. This is why it is possible to donate a kidney and survive. However, if both of your kidneys give out, you cannot survive without regular blood transfusions. Some people with very serious kidney disease must be kept on a dialysis machine indefinitely.
So what foods help keep my kidneys healthy? Before going into specific foods, there are a few general principles to keep in mind:
The first is hydration. If you want healthy kidneys, you’ve got to stay hydrated. Take in plenty of fluids, preferably water. Green tea and natural juices without added sugars (more on that later) are also good options.
The second is the role that potassium plays in kidney health. Potassium is an essential mineral, and foods rich in it like avocados and bananas are, generally speaking, very healthy. But too much potassium can be dangerous for people with kidney disease. Since regulating potassium levels is part of the kidneys’ job, taking in too much can put a strain on them. If you currently have or are at risk of developing kidney disease, this is something you should be aware of.
Now, when it comes to specific foods, here are some great choices for ensuring your kidneys stay in optimal working order:
1. Red Bell Peppers
Red Bell Peppers are considered a good vegetable choice for people at risk of kidney disease. In addition to being a plentiful source of B vitamins, vitamin C and antioxidants like lycopene, red bell peppers are also a low-potassium vegetable. This is important since too much potassium, as mentioned earlier, puts a strain on the kidneys by causing more frequent urination. Peppers are a very versatile vegetable, and they make a great addition to a sandwich or salad or can be stuffed served as dish by themselves.
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2. Sweet berries
Sweet berries like blueberries, black currants, raspberries, and more are an excellent way to take some of the strain off your kidneys. Because they are so rich in anthocyanins and other antioxidants, they help fight some of the free radical impurities your kidneys would otherwise be left to clean up.
These tart and delicious berries are packed with antioxidants that fight harmful free radicals and protect your kidneys. Consuming cranberries can actually help your kidneys do their job better by helping your body produce more uric acid. Cranberries also help prevent the buildup of bacteria within the bladder. Cranberry juice is also a good option. However, it is important to make sure that it is 100 percent pure cranberry juice. Just juice and water, nothing else. If it is one of the brands that has sugar, or even worse — high fructose corn syrup — it will negate any benefits you get from drinking it.
4. Leafy green vegetables
Leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach are highly beneficial for maintaining healthy kidneys. In addition to being low in potassium and rich in vitamins A and C, these two vegetables are also a good source of iron. Many people with kidney disease are afflicted with an iron deficiency. Since regular dietary intake of iron helps the kidneys function better, it’s an obvious solution: Eat more iron.
READ ALSO: How Your Diet Impacts Kidney Health
Oftentimes, what you don’t do is just as important as what you do. If you are at risk for kidney disease, avoid eating foods with too much sodium, phosphorous, and potassium. Diets very high in protein can also put excessive strain on the kidneys, so reduce your intake of meat as well. If you’re not at risk — enjoy, just don’t over indulge.