Why Should You Do a Kidney Cleanse?
1. They work hard for you. Your kidneys are two, bean-shaped organs that sit just below your rib cage on either side of your spine. They’re busy little organs – within a day, they filter around 200 quarts (or 50 gallons) of blood and 2 quarts of water (that are excreted as urine) in order to remove metabolic waste products, drugs, and other toxic substances from your body.
2. They wear a lot of hats. They’re responsible for converting vitamin D into an active, usable form for your body and keeping your fluid balance in order. Your kidneys also have a hand in the manufacture of red blood cells and the management of blood pressure.
I’m sure you’re beginning to see why putting a bit of effort into maintaining the health of your kidneys is important. What’s more, if you have diabetes or high blood pressure (both of which can cause damage to your kidneys) then it’s even more essential.
How to do a kidney cleanse at home - or anywhere:
(NOTE: Of course, you should consult your doctor before trying any kind of supplement, nutrition, or food program!)
Most kidney cleanse kits, supplements, or teas revolve around some combination of herbs and extracts with diuretic and antioxidant properties. That’s great, but I believe an approach that combines food, healthy habits and supplements to achieve better kidney health and function is ideal. After all, Hippocrates, the “father of medicine” did say "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. Nutrition is a very powerful, safe, and natural promoter of good health that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Step 1: Add kidney-assisting, antioxidant-rich foods and supplements to your daily diet (in moderation, of course)
- Cranberries, cranberry juice, or cranberry extract, which have been demonstrated as helpful for preventing and treating urinary tract infections.
- Celery seeds, which are antiseptic, diuretic, and help lower uric acid levels. They can be ground and used to season food, or used whole and steeped into a tea.
- Fresh, raw celery, which has properties similar to celery seeds and lots of electrolytes. It can be included in salads, as a snack with peanut butter or vegetable dip, or juiced with a vegetable juicer.
- Blueberries and pomegranates and their juices, which are high in kidney-helping antioxidants and can be eaten with yogurt or in smoothies. Be watchful of the sugar content per serving in the juices, which can be high.
- Herbal teas that contain rose hip, raspberry leaf, and yarrow, all supposedly helpful herbs for kidneys.
- Ginger root, which stimulates circulation and has antioxidant and antiviral properties. The fresh rhizome can be grated or sliced thin and steeped into a tea (good cold or hot), or added to curries and baked goods. Candied ginger is convenient if you’re on-the-go as it lasts long without refrigeration, but pay attention to servings, as it’s high in sugar.
- Milk Thistle. Usually available in capsules, it’s been used for centuries for liver and kidney complaints.
- Fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables and other whole, minimally-processed foods.
Step 2: Get plenty of fluids. This almost goes without saying, because it’s obvious water is very important to kidney health. Nutritionists commonly suggest drinking 8 glasses (containing 8 ounces, or one cup) daily. Any beverage that does not contain caffeine counts towards this recommendation. It’s not necessary to drink more than that unless you’re in extreme conditions, and doing so may cause you to excrete too many vital minerals and electrolytes.
Step 3: Avoid or limit foods and substances that can be harmful to your kidneys, like:
- Fried foods, which contain AGEs (advanced glycation end products.)
- Alcohol, which can increase your risk of high blood pressure, a common cause of kidney disease.
- Meat, which can raise uric acid levels.
- Excessive coffee consumption. If you read through some of the many medical studies on coffee, then you know the jury’s out on whether coffee is generally healthy or not, but I think it’s safe to say that moderation should be applied to its consumption when you’re focusing on the health of your kidneys.
- Excessive amounts of sugar and processed foods and drinks such as sodas and fruit juices. Even when it comes to the antioxidant-rich juices I listed above, you should practice moderation and pay attention to the grams of sugar per serving, as well as the nutrition label’s definition of a serving (for example: One 8 oz. serving is 28 grams of sugar) and compare that to your serving size.
However long you decide to stay on your kidney cleanse is up to you – one week, maybe two - but it certainly doesn’t hurt to also pay attention and make informed choices about your eating, drinking, and general health habits indefinitely. Even if you can’t apply all of these steps and tips to your normal routine, don’t be discouraged. Doing whatever amount you can is certainly better than doing nothing, and your kidneys will thank you!