The kidneys filter our blood at an astounding rate.
They can actually go through all of the blood in your body in just a half-hour! But this is only when they are operating at normal capacity.
There are things that can reduce the efficiency with which these organs operate—things like disease, high chemical levels in your bloodstream, acute trauma, and so on.
Our kidneys can take quite a bit of abuse, all things considered. It does not hurt that there are two of them as well: two kidneys operating at normal efficiency can actually perform more than enough filtration for the average human body.
Some people even go through life with only one healthy kidney and are perfectly normal.
The problems is...
Once the kidneys begin to get damaged by disease, most of the damage is irreversible. At least, this is the standard wisdom on the topic.
Dissections of extracted organs do seem to agree with this assertion.
However, there are also a fair number of cases where apparent deterioration in the kidneys’ efficiency was reversed by certain treatments or alterations to patients’ lifestyles.
A remarkable example is one patient with Chronic Kidney Disease (a deteriorative kidney disease widely held to be irreversible in its damage) who went on a program called The Kidney Disease Solution and managed to go from Stage 5 CKD to getting off dialysis in mere months.
What does that tell you?
This suggests that you can improve kidney health and function even when you are already afflicted with a renal disease.
Even if you are not afflicted with kidney problems, though, it is in your best interest to boost kidney health as much as possible.
This is even more necessary if you have a history of kidney diseases in your family or any of the following:
- High cholesterol levels
- A high-protein, high-potassium, or high-phosphorus diet
If any of the above is true of you or your lifestyle, you should consider the following suggestions to improve kidney function.
Drink a Lot of Water
Staying hydrated is actually key when it comes to ensuring renal health.
Remember what the kidneys do, after all. Their job is to constantly filter our blood for excess chemicals that would be unhealthy to leave in our bodies.
Once they have collected those chemicals, they return the blood to the system while expelling the chemicals as waste. That waste is what we call urine.
Ensuring you get enough water makes it easier for the kidneys to regularly expel the chemicals they are collecting. Regular expulsion means the chemicals do not get a chance to build up inside you, keeping your body health.
Make sure that what you drink is mostly water, by the way. If you drink things like soda instead, that only causes the kidneys to work harder, since they will have to filter that too for further chemicals—things like phosphorus in the dark-colored colas, for example.
Watch Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure increases the chance of you getting kidney disease, so it obviously does not benefit renal function. It would be wise to check your blood pressure regularly so that you know if you are getting hypertension.
If you do get high blood pressure, check in with your physician and inquire as to what you can do. In most cases, lifestyle changes can be enough to resolve the issue. In others, however, medication may be necessary.
Keep Yourself at a Healthy Weight
Obesity is not good for renal health, so staying at a good weight can help your kidneys work more easily. Part of this will obviously depend on your diet (more on that later), but it will also depend on your level of physical activity.
It is advisable to get regular exercise for overall health, but exercise can also affect your kidneys directly in at least two ways: first, by preventing you from becoming obese; and second, by reducing the amount of visceral fat deposited around your middle.
Visceral fat envelops the organs in our belly areas, and too much of it can actually press on them and impede their performance. Start doing regular exercise if you feel you are putting on a few more pounds than you should have.
Get More Fruits and Vegetables in Your Diet
A lot of fruits and vegetables are good for improving kidney health.
Go for things like cherries, which boast a load of vitamins and citrate. The latter lowers uric acid levels in the bloodstream, which is good for renal health. Cranberries are another great option, having a lot of vitamin C and manganese as well as helping protect against urinary tract infections.
There are also kidney beans and even herbs like onions and garlic that are beneficial to the health of your kidneys.
Keep in mind that there are some fruits and vegetables that may give your kidneys more work instead of easing their load, though.
Some have very high potassium levels, for example, and this can actually force your kidneys to do more filtration.
Stop Smoking or Drinking
Alcohol and tobacco are both known among doctors as substances that can (and fairly often do) have a negative impact on overall renal health. The less of them you get into your system, the better.
Smoking is best stopped, but drinking may be a little harder to give up considering there are a lot of social situations where it may feature as a group activity.
If this is so, just keep the amount of alcohol you drink to a very low level—something like just one or two drinks a day would be great.
See a Dietitian and Nephrologist for Checkups and Advice
Nothing beats going to the experts.
If you really want to know how to better your kidneys’ performance, go to a nephrologist and ask him to run tests to see if yours are in good condition—and what to do if they can be improved.
You should also ask a dietitian with a specialization in kidney health for suggestions regarding your diet.