Saturday, February 19, 2011

Staying in Top Form: Detox Your Kidneys!

Ancient Chinese medicine claims that the kidneys are responsible for our “essence.”   What a huge responsibility these tiny yet powerful organs have!  In this regard, they must be cleansed and maintained in order for us to achieve our deserved overall sense of well-being and health.

The kidneys are found on either side of the spine, protected by the rib cage. Filtering more than 48 gallons of blood each day, they remove toxins and wastes including highly toxic ammonia and uric acid. They also regulate sodium, phosphate, and sulfur levels, help maintain appropriate pH, and assist in the production of blood cells. Active all the time, the kidneys can become overloaded if not attended to with love and care, which means feeding them with foods that keep them nourished and functioning at their best.

Compromising the Kidneys and Liver
With an improper diet, such as one high in fatty and processed foods, the kidneys and the liver become compromised.  When the liver becomes saturated with toxic waste, it passes the excess on to the kidneys in order to help process the materials more effectively.  When both of these organs become overloaded, we can suffer from such nuisances as bloating due to water retention, urinary tract infection, mineral deficiencies, and ultimately painful kidney stones.

Detoxifying with Diet
As with all of our organs, the kidneys respond to a healthy diet that concentrates on fresh, natural foods and avoids an excess of sugar and salt.  We can tell when our kidneys are functioning well by the color of our urine, which should be colorless and odorless.  The more yellow and smelly, the more we need to detox.

Water is the most important factor in detoxifying the kidneys. Drinking at least one liter of pure water a day helps to dilute mineral salts that can ultimately turn into kidney stones. Drinking water at every available moment throughout the day means that the entire system is being flushed, helping the kidneys sweep toxins out of the body. 

Detoxifying Teas
There are many herbal teas that help the kidneys flush the body of wastes while providing the system with needed nutrients. 
Here is a brief list of some:

·      Dandelion
·      Nettle
·      Parsley
·      Milk thistle
·      Lemon balm
·      Meadowsweet
·      Water plantain
 Combining any of the above and drinking a cupful two or three times a day is an excellent way to keep the kidneys clean.  There are also some powerful Chinese teas, including Gravel root, which helps dissolve kidney stones, and Wu Zi Wan, which helps revitalize the urinary tract.

Another great kidney detox is to boil up to 12 slices of fresh peeled ginger root with a few pieces of turmeric, which acts as an astringent.  Drink with a bit of honey to offset the pungent flavor of the ginger.  (This is also a great tea for sore throats.)

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
By incorporating fresh, organic fruits and vegetables in the diet we help the kidneys to cleanse and regenerate. Raw fruits and raw or lightly steamed veggies are easier on all of the organs as they are not robbed of essential nutrients through the cooking process. Fruits bended with pure water or unsweetened apple or grape juice are a great way to detoxify the kidneys. Green leafy vegetable salads with a fresh lemon and apple cider vinegar dressing helps to keep the kidneys and other organs alkalized, which assists in destroying destructive acids in the system.  One of my favorite kidney detox recipes is a mixture of fruits and veggies:

 1 pear, cubed
A handful of fresh parsley leaves, carefully washed
½ squeezed fresh lemon
A knuckle’s length of fresh ginger, peeled and diced
A teaspoon of organic honey
A pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
1 cup of water

Blend, drink, enjoy!

A Word About Cranberries
Cranberries are rich in proanthocyanidin, which is a powerful antioxidant.  They also contain hippuric acid, which helps drive out toxic waste from the kidneys. Fresh, unsweetened cranberry juice is easy to find in health food stores, or you can take a cup of fresh cranberries and place them in a blender with the juice of a half lemon and pure water and make your own refreshing detox drink. This is also a great drink for women suffering from cystitis.

Fresh grape juice also helps to flush out excess uric acid from the kidneys.

Magnesium-rich Foods
The kidneys need magnesium to function well. Eating organically grown dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, collard greens, arugula, and dandelion is a great way to get your magnesium.  Additionally, adding whole grains, nuts, and seeds help to maintain healthy magnesium levels.

Foods to Avoid
If you are really serious about cleansing the kidneys, it is best to avoid high protein foods such as red meat and poultry as they put an extra burden on the metabolic system.  Avoid all fried, fatty, processed, and canned foods as well as sugary desserts and overly salted recipes.

Making fresh, organic foods the basis of your diet along with large quantities of water and nutritious teas will help keep your kidneys smiling over their easy job of keeping your body healthy and toxin-free.

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