Principles of Good Kidney Health

Kidney health and kidney care are key components of any personal health-care program. Having healthy kidneys (or a healthy kidney... if you have just one) is absolutely essential to optimum health and well-being.

The kidneys are responsible for performing some very important functions within the body.

To briefly summarize, they are responsible for filtering blood plasma by separating waste substances from useful chemicals; regulating blood volume, blood pressure and blood pH, and producing certain hormones.

If your kidneys are not healthy, they will not be able to perform these crucial functions.

Consequently, your health is likely to deteriorate and your ability to fully enjoy life and reach your fullest potentials will be compromised. Kidney health and kidney care should, therefore, be considered as key ingredients in any health care program. Maintaining healthy kidneys will go a long way in helping to maintain overall good health and well-being, and also help to minimize the risk of developing degenerative diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Kidney Health Affects Overall Health

Did you know that kidney disorders can lead to many serious degenerative diseases... such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure? These are among the leading causes of deaths, worldwide.

How can kidney disorders lead to heart disease, stroke, or even cancer? Well, here is the connection...

As you may remember, one of the key functions of the kidney is to filter the blood, keeping it free from toxins and other waste products. The kidneys are also responsible for regulating and maintaining the concentration and volume of blood, in the body. In other words, the kidneys help to maintain the right quality and quantity of blood. This is important to note, since the quality of blood directly affects the quality of overall health. If your blood is polluted by toxins and other waste components, every cell, tissue and organ in the body will be negatively affected. You simply cannot enjoy optimum health without the right quality and quantity of blood.

Some of the key functions of blood include the following:

  • transportation of nutrients, oxygen, and hormones around the body;
  • protection against diseases, including cancer cells, and
  • helps stabilize the pH balance.

Without healthy kidneys, blood cannot be properly filtered or its volume and concentration properly regulated. This will then result in poor health ... and eventually premature death, unless timely corrective action is taken.

Kidney failure causes toxins and waste products to accumulate in the body, and disrupts the chemical balance, viscosity (thickness) and volume of blood and other body fluids. Eventually, this can lead to hypertension and diabetes, which in turn can lead to heart disease and stroke.

Further, the compromised quality of blood leads to a depleted immune system, which increases the risk of cancer and other serious diseases.

Given the importance of the kidneys in maintaining good overall health, it is necessary to focus on kidney health and kidney care from a very broad perspective. One must incorporate principles of health that are not only confined to the kidneys but also impacts on a wide range of general principles of health.

It should be noted that the kidneys are only one element of a very complex human biological system. Each element of this system is, in some way, connected or related to the other elements within this system. In order to effectively improve and maintain kidney health, a broad scope of general health principles should be considered.

DIET and Kidney Health

You may have heard the expression - "You are what you eat!" Well, we are certainly affected by the things we consume. The road to maintaining healthy kidneys starts with an appropriate diet. This is probably the single largest contributor to many kidney problems.

While advances in medical science have made it possible for our generation to live longer, the quality of health is comparatively poorer than our ancestors. Modernization has caused many to adopt poor eating habits, with emphasis on convenience rather than quality.

Unlike our ancestors, we consume a lot more refined foods loaded with artificial ingredients, salt, sugar, and cholesterol. Not only are our diets generally poor but our consumption is excessive... leading to obesity. It is little wonder that many degenerative diseases (such as diabetes and high blood pressure) have increase significantly, over the last decade.

Part of the solution to this problem is to change our eating habits. A balanced diet will go a long way to improving kidney health and the quality of life. Medical experts increasingly advocate a healthy diet to counteract everything, from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to depression.

At the top of the dietary tree are so-called super foods. They include fruits, vegetables, pulses, and nuts... that boost the immune system, ward off cancer and heart disease and even slow down the aging process. Many of these super foods also contain antioxidants, which play an important role in defending the body against diseases and eliminating free radicals.

It is important to note that everything we consume is eventually absorbed into the blood, through the process of digestion. In addition to eating healthier foods it is also important to incorporate good digestive habits as an integral part of improving kidney health.

For example, chewing your food properly and eating well in advance of bedtime (3 to 4 hours before) will contribute to better digestion of food. A healthy diet together with good digestive practices will help to maintain good quality blood, tissues and organs (including the kidneys).

On the other hand, if we consume foods that are unhealthy and toxic, digestion is affected and the blood becomes contaminated. This puts a lot more strain on the kidneys and other organs. Over time, this can begin to affect our kidneys and other organ systems within the body.

So contact your dietitian or health care provider and ask them to help you plan an appropriate kidney diet, if you haven't already done so.

WATER AND KIDNEY HEALTH

Consumption of adequate amounts of water is very important for maintaining healthy kidneys. Some health experts suggest that drinking eight glasses of water per day is sufficient. If you have a kidney disorder such as kidney stone, however, this is probably not enough. Water plays an important part in not only helping to remove kidney stones but also helps to prevent them.

Some medical practitioners recommend drinking the equivalent of half your body weight in ounces of water, per day. For example if your weight is 160 lbs, then you should drink at least 80 ozs of water, which is equivalent to approximately 10 (8 oz) glasses. This is only a guide and may not be appropriate in every case. (Check with your dietitian to determine your specific needs).

Adequate water consumption is not only important for kidney health but many other biological functions, as well. Water helps to maintain the correct concentration and volume of blood as well as aiding in digestion, regulating body temperature and blood circulation, and helps to flush toxins and other waste products from the body.

The kidneys need a lot of water in order to perform their crucial functions of removing toxins from the body and maintaining the correct concentration of the blood and other body fluids. Adequate water consumption also reduces the chances of developing some kidney stones.

SUPPLEMENTATION

It is an established fact that not many people are able to eat properly, on a consistent basis, for various reasons. Sometimes we make poor eating choices due to ignorance, convenience, taste preferences, or in some cases unavailability of healthy foods. Even those of us who are able to eat a balanced diet consistently, the quality of food is sometimes very poor. This is largely due to pollution and poor farming practices.

So, how do we acquire the required nutrients to promote efficient biological functions? The answer is... supplementation.

Optimum health is dependent on having the right nutrients, in the right amounts...

People with kidney failure must be careful of the supplements they take, however. Depending on the cause of kidney failure, some supplements may not be appropriate. You should consult with your health care advisor(s) to determine the best supplements to use.

EXERCISE HELPS!

Physical exercise is another important factor that cannot be overlooked. It is a major piece of the health puzzle. In reality, many of us sit behind a desk for eight or more hours almost every day. Further, when we leave our work places, we are so tired that it becomes easy to simply recline in our favorite chair and look at television.

This sedentary lifestyle significantly contributes to many health problems including obesity, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and kidney failure. Without regular and consistent exercise, health cannot be optimized and diseases cannot be prevented.

How can exercises help to optimize kidney health? Well, in a number of ways but especially by helping to lower or control blood pressure and increasing insulin sensitivity, to prevent against type II diabetes (adult onset diabetes). As you may be aware, diabetes and hypertension are two leading causes of kidney failure.

Other benefits of exercise include increased energy, reduced stress levels, improved sleep and improved physical appearance. By implementing a program of regular exercise, you will help to prevent or control diseases, preserve and improve the health of your kidneys, and improve your overall well-being.

REDUCE STRESS

In today's society, it is almost impossible for a day to go by without encountering something (or someone) that causes stress. Challenges on the job, at school, in our families and our personal lives, all contribute to some level of stress. Learning to cope with stress is, therefore, an important life skill.

Our bodies are equipped to deal with moderate levels of stress. In excess, however, stress can result in negative chemical and biological reactions, leading to diseases and dysfunction.

Stress can affect the kidneys by increasing blood pressure. Since our ability to manage and reduce stress has a direct impact on our kidneys, they should be incorporated as a necessary tool for kidney health and kidney care. Stress management and stress reduction will not only help the kidneys but will provide immense benefits to other organs and overall health and well-being, as well.

DETOXIFICATION

Detoxification is the removal of toxins from the body. It is an important element of any kidney health and kidney care program. Over time, toxic elements enter into our bodies through the air we breathe, the water we drink, the foods we eat, the medications we take, and the personal care products we apply to our hair and skin. Additionally, toxins are naturally produced in the body through metabolic processes. If these toxins are allowed to accumulate for too long, they will disrupt our health.

The kidneys help to eliminate some of these toxins but not all. In fact if the kidneys are not functioning well, there could be a buildup of toxins in the kidneys. To maximize kidney health and overall health, a periodic removal of toxins is necessary. It is also important to promote natural detoxification by making correct food choices.

It is useful to periodically detoxify the major organs (including the kidneys), using specialized natural products in addition to diet. This helps to promote the efficient functioning of biological systems and reduce the stress placed on the kidneys and other organs.

Kidney health or kidney care involves adherence to some very basic principles of health care, as outlined above. Continuous violation of these principles will result in disease and eventually, premature death. These are very broad principles which, if followed, could result in improved kidney health and overall health and quality of life.

If you are afflicted by a kidney problem, you should always seek professional medical attention. Special diets and treatments, such as dialysis, may be required.

The best treatment for kidney disease, however, is to prevent it. Optimize kidney health by consuming the right types and quantities of foods, exercise regularly, drink adequate amounts of water, and observe other healthy habits, such as adequate rest, recreation and reduce stress levels. At all cost, avoid destructive lifestyle habits such as smoking and drug and alcohol abuse.