The kidneys are two small organs located on either side of the spine, below the ribs. They play an important role in getting rid of excess waste, balancing electrolytes, and creating hormones.
In the absence of disease, a well-rounded diet and adequate water intake are usually enough to keep your kidneys healthy.
However, certain foods, herbs, and supplements can help support strong kidneys.
From your morning glass of water to that extra cup of herbal tea, here are four ways to cleanse your kidneys and keep them functioning strong.
The adult human body is composed of almost 60 percent water. Every single organ, from the brain to the liver, requires water to function.
As the filtration system of the body, the kidneys require water to secrete urine. Urine is the primary waste product that allows the body to get rid of unwanted or unnecessary substances.
When water intake is low, urine volume is low. A low urine output may lead to kidney dysfunction, such as the creation of kidney stones.
It’s crucial to drink enough water so that the kidneys can properly flush out any excess waste materials. This is especially important during a kidney cleanse.
The recommended daily intake of fluids is roughly 3.7 liters and 2.7 liters a day for men and women, respectively, according to the Institute of Medicine.
A handful of red grapes makes a great afternoon snack — and they taste even better frozen!
Cranberries have often been praised for their bladder-healthy benefits.
Dried cranberries are a deliciously sweet addition to trail mix, salads, or even oatmeal.
Lemon, orange, and melon juice all contain citric acid, or citrate.
Citrate helps prevent kidney stone formation by binding with calcium in urine. This inhibits the growth of calcium crystals, which can lead to kidney stones.
In addition, drinking a cup of fresh juice per day can contribute to your daily recommended fluid intake.
Brown seaweed has been studied for its beneficial effects on the pancreas, kidneys, and liver. In a 2014 animal trial, rats fed edible seaweed for a period of 22 days showed a reduction in both kidney and liver damage from diabetes.
Try a packet of dried, seasoned seaweed the next time you’re craving a crunchy snack.
Many people believe that avoiding calcium can help to prevent kidney stones. In fact, the opposite is true.
Too much urinary oxalate can lead to kidney stones. Calcium is needed to bind with oxalate to reduce the absorption and excretion of this substance.
You can meet the recommended daily intake of 1.2 grams (g) of calcium by consuming high-calcium foods, such as soy or almond milk, tofu, and fortified cereals.
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica)
Stinging nettle is a perennial plant that has long been used in traditional herbal medicine.
Stinging nettle leaf contains beneficial compounds that can help to reduce inflammation. It’s also high in antioxidants, which help to protect the body and organs from oxidative stress.
Try this tea: Traditional Medicinals’ Organic Nettle Leaf Tea
Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculate)
Hydrangea is a gorgeous flowering shrub, well-known for its lavender, pink, blue, and white flowers.
A recent animal study found that extracts of Hydrangea paniculate given for three days offered a protective effect against kidney damage. This is likely due to the antioxidant capabilities of the plant.
Try this tea: Dr. Clark Store’s Kidney Cleanse Tea
Sambong (Blumea balsamifera)
Sambong is a tropical climate shrub, common to countries such as the Philippines and India.
In one study, researchers found that a Blumea balsamifera extract added to calcium oxalate crystals decreased the size of the crystals. This could potentially prevent the formation of kidney stones.
Try this tea: Golden Spoon’s Sambong Herbal Tea
Vitamin B-6 is an important cofactor in many metabolic reactions. B-6 is required for the metabolism of glyoxylate, which can become oxalate instead of glycine if B-6 is deficient.
As mentioned above, too much oxalate may lead to kidney stones.
The standard American diet is often high in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids and low in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
Research suggests that high levels of omega-6 fatty acids may lead to kidney stone formation. An increase in omega-3s can naturally decrease the metabolism of omega-6s, with the best intake ratio being 1:1.
Supplement with: a daily high-quality fish oil containing 1.2 g of both EPA and DHA
Potassium is a necessary element of electrolyte balance and pH balance of urine.
Therapy with potassium citrate can potentially help to reduce the formation of kidney stones, especially in people who experience recurring episodes.
Supplement with: a daily multivitamin or multimineral that contains potassium
Once you’ve incorporated these foods, herbs, and supplements into your diet, you may want to consider taking your kidney support to the next level.
This sample two-day kidney cleanse can help strengthen your kidneys and detoxify your body.
Breakfast: 8 ounces (oz.) fresh lemon, ginger, and beet juice (equal parts), plus 1/4 cup sweetened, dried cranberries
Lunch: 12-oz. smoothie containing 1 cup almond milk, 1/2 cup tofu, 1/2 cup spinach, 1/4 cup berries, 1/2 apple, and 2 tablespoons (tbsp.) pumpkin seeds
Dinner: a large mixed-greens salad with 4 oz. lean protein (chicken, fish, or tofu), topped with 1/2 cup of grapes and 1/4 cup of peanuts
Breakfast: 8-oz. smoothie containing 1 cup soy milk, 1 frozen banana, 1/2 cup spinach, 1/2 cup blueberries, and 1 teaspoon (tsp.) spirulina
Lunch: 1 cup hot millet topped with 1 cup fresh fruit and 2 tbsp. pumpkin seeds
Dinner: a large mixed-greens salad with 4 oz. lean protein (chicken, fish, or tofu), topped with 1/2 cup cooked barley and a drizzle of fresh lemon juice, plus 4 oz. unsweetened cherry juice and orange juice (equal parts)
Most healthy people don’t need to flush or cleanse their kidneys. Still, there are plenty of beneficial foods, herbal teas, and supplements that can support kidney health.
If you’re looking to help your kidneys detoxify and cleanse your body, try slowly incorporating some of the suggestions above.
And as always, discuss any dietary or health changes with your doctor ahead of time — especially before doing a cleanse of any kind.
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