As you may remember from Biology 101, our kidneys are those two bean-shaped organs below the adrenal glands that filter our blood to produce urine. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases explains that our kidneys also "prevent the buildup of wastes…keep levels of electrolytes stable, such as sodium, potassium, and phosphate, [and] make hormones that help regulate blood pressure, [create] red blood cells, and keep bones strong." Though some kidney diseases are genetic or linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, there are a variety of common health issues that can arise when we aren't drinking enough water or eating the right foods for healthy bladder and blood function.
About 50% of women get a urinary tract infection and 7% pass a kidney stone in their lifetime. We probably don't need to tell you twice how seriously unpleasant both of those issues are. And while diet alone won't always cure UTIs or prevent kidney stones, the right nutrient-rich foods will keep your blood, bladder, and adrenal glands in good shape. In fact, as Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, notes, "one of the top three cleanses people should be doing on a regular basis is a kidney cleanse," which can help heal adrenal fatigue and flush out your system.
Whether you want to incorporate more foods that are good for kidneys in your diet, or you're getting ready to try a full-on cleanse, we identified the top four kidney-healthy ingredients to eat and drink when you're sick of cranberry juice.
Anthony William, author of Medical Medium: Secrets Behind Chronic and Mystery Illness and How to Finally Heal, says seaweed is a great way to detox your body of any heavy metals that are building up in your system. While you can eat kelp salads or seaweed snacks, you can also add it to your morning smoothie in powder form. Take this recipe from Minimalist Baker, for example, which calls for spirulina. This marine-green smoothie is both perfectly sweet and easy to make for a healthy start to your day.
Because citric acid can help maintain urinary function and blood cleanliness, and drinking plenty of water prevents waste buildup and fluid retention, a mixture of lemon juice and water is a great way to hydrate. With ginger root and carrots, this fresh lemonade recipe from The First Mess is yet another step up. It also happens to be great for your immunity as well as your kidneys, so sip on this concoction in the morning to jump-start your system and fight off infections.
Though technically an herb, nettle is a natural remedy to add to your morning beverage. Since it has plenty of vitamin C, stinging nettle will support your immune system and detoxification by filtering your urine. Axe recommends introducing it to your routine by enjoying it as a tea in the morning, and this recipe from Mitzy at Home is a delicious rendition. With stinging nettle, honey, water, and fresh lime juice, it's the perfect, fresh elixir to drink first thing in the morning.
Beets are really high in nitric oxide, a nutrient that's essential to adrenal function, circulation, and cleansing the blood. Make it as a salad or enjoy it in your morning smoothie. This recipe from The First Mess is particularly potent since it also calls for plenty of antioxidants, like the red berries of your choosing. As a result, this hot-pink beverage will make you feel as good as it looks and tastes.