Kidneys are to your body what your washer is to dirty clothes. The paired organs cleanse your body of waste, toxins and excess fluid. They also release hormones that regulate your blood pressure and produce vitamin D, which promotes healthy bones. A nutritious, balanced diet can help keep your kidneys in tip-top shape, and your body clean and bloat-free. If you have a chronic illness, discuss dietary changes with your doctor or dietitian.
Whether cooked or fresh, vegetables are ultra-valuable for kidney health. As prime sources of antioxidants, such as beta-carotene and vitamin C, vegetables strengthen your body's ability to resist and heal infections and disease. Particularly kidney-friendly vegetables, according to Sara Colman, a registered dietitian and kidney expert with DaVita, include red bell peppers, cabbage, cauliflower, garlic and onions. These veggies are low in potassium, a mineral people with kidney disease may have to limit, but they are rich in protective nutrients. Garlic and onion are flavorful alternatives to salt, a seasoning which could upset fluid balance in your body, making your kidneys' job difficult.
An apple a day may not keep the kidney doctor away, but eating more fruits in general could. Fruits are also major antioxidant providers. Particularly nutritious options -- safe for people with and without kidney disease -- include apples, cranberries, blueberries, raspberries and cherries. Cranberries can enhance your overall health, because they contain substances that not only protect against bacteria that cause urinary infection and stomach ulcers but also strengthen your GI tract's lining. The fiber in fruits can help prevent kidney stones, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Fiber-rich varieties include raspberries, pears and apples.
Cold-Water Fish and Egg Whites
Powering up on protein could power up your kidneys. Protein, which boosts tissue repair and immune function, is present in all of your body's cells, including kidney cells. Egg whites provide protein and less phosphorus than other protein sources, such as meats and egg yolks, which is an important consideration for people with kidney disease. Whether you have a kidney condition or not, the omega-3 healthy fats in cold-water fish are vital for overall wellness. Omega-3s can help reduce inflammation, particularly if you eat fish instead of inflammatory protein sources, such as fatty meats and cheeses.
Without enough carbohydrate, your body's main fuel source, your kidneys won't have enough energy. Whole grains are some of the healthiest carb sources, providing more antioxidants, protein and fiber than refined grains, such as white flour and instant rice. Whole grains also promote blood sugar control, which is important for people healing from kidney transplant surgery, says Penn Medicine. Nutritious options include quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, oats and 100-percent whole grain breads, pastas and cereals.
August McLaughlin is a health and sexuality writer, podcast host and author of “Girl Boner: The Good Girl’s Guide to Sexual Empowerment” (Amberjack Publishing, 2018). Her articles appear in DAME Magazine, Cosmopolitan.com, the Huffington Post and more, and she loves connecting with readers through her blog and social media. augustmclaughlin.com