Someone’s Gotta Take Out the Garbage
Our kidneys are like two little superheroes taking out the rubbish daily. They work tirelessly, processing roughly 190 litres of blood; working hard to remove toxins from your body. Kidneys balance the body’s fluids, release hormones that maintain blood pressure and control the production of red blood cells.
Indulging occasionally is a must but it is also important to take care of these unsung heroes. If they should ever quit, toxins would build up in your body leading to villains such diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure and renal failure.
Generally, the best way to take care of your kidneys is to live healthier. You know the drill. It involves making sure you drink enough water, eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, avoid smoking and quit popping pain medications over simple aches and pains. Prolonged use of over-the-counter common medications could cause kidney damage, so it is essential to consider alternate ways to manage pain. Here is our guide on how best to avoid damaging one of your body’s most precious organs and power it up for life:
Power-up Your Kidneys
Including a “power” or “super” food in your regular eating habits not only lightens the burden on your kidneys but increases your intake of nutrients and antioxidants. Here’s a list of kidney friendly superfoods that can be enjoyed by the whole family:
Lemon or lime: These two citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C, citrate, malate and low in potassium and sodium. Most importantly for your kidneys, is that the acidity in lemon and lime actually help break down kidney stones.
Drink about two tablespoons of lemon or lime juice with water daily to keep your kidneys at optimum health! Try it with sparkling water!
Red bell pepper: Sweet, crunchy and almost fruity in flavour, red bell peppers not only add vibrancy but a touch of sweetness to any dish. It is low in potassium, which keeps it easy on the kidneys and packs generous portions of vitamins A, C, B6, folic acid and fibre. Red bell peppers also contain lycopene, an antioxidant known for preventing certain types of cancer such as breast and prostate cancer.
Including them in your diet is as simple as chopping them up and adding them to your vegetable, chicken or beef stir-fry. If you want to get creative, check out Martha Stewart’s 25 recipes that make the most of this vegetable. Looking for something easy and filling, try Jen Review’s Taco Soup with Charred Corn.
Cabbage: Don’t be fooled by this humble vegetable. Health benefits include the treatment of stomach ulcers, headaches, obesity, skin disorders, eczema, jaundice, scurvy, rheumatism, arthritis, gout, eye disorders, heart diseases, ageing and Alzheimer’s disease. Cabbages also contain a phytochemical which works to chase away free radicals and are loaded with fibre, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and folic acid. Being low in potassium, it’s especially kidney-friendly.
Cabbage can be served chopped up as coleslaw or the Asian way in soups and stir-fries. Rasa Malaysia features a lovely stir-fry recipe for Napa Cabbage. Give it a shot.
Cauliflower: The cauliflower is packed with vitamin C, folate and fibre. In addition, it contains compounds that help your liver neutralize toxic substances.
There are countless ways to prepare this underestimated vegetable. It plays well with so many other ingredients, taking on their flavours and transforming into truly special dishes. You can try serving them caramelized in the oven with slightly charred onions and sprinkled with parmesan cheese! You can’t say that does not sound appetizing!
Garlic: This power food has traditionally been used to treat a multitude of health conditions, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease. Garlic is also good for reducing inflammation and lowering cholesterol.
Adding them to your diet is simple especially since most Malaysian stir-fry dishes include garlic. You can also simply roast garlic whole. It’s delicious and easy to prepare. Just lop off the top of the head of garlic, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle a little salt and pepper, wrap with foil and pop it into the oven for 30-40 minutes.
Onion: Much like garlic, onions are wonderfully essential to most Malaysian dishes. Being low in potassium, they are not only kidney-friendly but also contain chromium, a mineral that assists your body with the metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. They also contain a powerful compound called quercetin which helps prevent cancer.
Try onions raw in your salad and sandwiches or, if you’re craving for something warm and comforting, make French onion soup. Otherwise, there’s always sambal with lots of onions for that extra omph! Try adding it into your chicken sandwich next time to kick it up a notch.
Apples: You know the saying; an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Packed with antioxidants, flavonoids, and dietary fibre, apples help reduce cholesterol, prevent constipation, protect against heart disease and decrease your risk of cancer. (Note: Cranberries have been associated with a higher risk for calcium oxalate stones. Consume sparingly if you are prone to kidney stones)
Apples are delicious on their own but if you’re looking to indulge, then it doesn’t get much better than warm comforting apple pie. Just make sure to reign in on the sugar as apples are already naturally sweet on their own.
Cranberries: These little gems have been linked to lowered risk of urinary tract infections, prevention of certain types of cancer, improved immune function, and decreased blood pressure. (Note: Cranberries have been associated with a higher risk for calcium oxalate stones. Consume sparingly if you are prone to kidney stones)
You can consume it as juice or toss a handful of dried cranberries into your cereal or salad. The most popular recipes would have to be for cranberry sauce. If you’re trying to be good to your kidneys, look out for the recipes that use maple syrup in place of sugar.
Blueberries: If there was a superstar among power foods, it would be the blueberry. These little pops of blue have one of the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits, vegetables, spices and seasonings. Antioxidants in blueberries have been shown to improve the cardiovascular system, repair muscles, protect the nervous system, help maintain the blood sugar regulatory system and improve memory.
There are so many ways to enjoy them. Make a healthy blueberry muffin or simply toss them into your cereal.
Raspberries: Raspberries contain a compound called ellagic acid, which helps prevent cancer by resisting cancer cell growth and the formation of tumours. Raspberries are also packed with fibre, vitamin C and manganese. (Note: Raspberries have been associated with a higher risk for calcium oxalate stones. Consume sparingly if you are prone to kidney stones)
Sprinkle fresh raspberries on cereal or whip them up to make a refreshing fruit smoothie.
Strawberries: These vibrant juicy berries have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. They are rich in antioxidants and are an excellent source of fibre, folic acid, vitamins C, vitamins K, manganese and potassium. Interestingly, strawberries have even been used throughout history to aid digestion, whiten teeth and treat skin irritations.
Like most berries, they’re awesome added to your cereal or as a strawberry smoothie.
Cherries: Cherries are not only decadent in desserts, they are loaded with antioxidants and contain fibre, vitamin C, carotenoids, and anthocyanins, which all play a role in cancer prevention. On top of that, they contain many anti-inflammatory compounds that could help relieve pain from inflammatory osteoarthritis.
Red grapes: Did you know that grapes belong to the berry family? The red colour in grapes comes from several flavonoids which are good for your heart as they prevent oxidation and reduce the chance of blood clots. Flavonoids in grapes also help protect you from cancer and prevent inflammation. Try red grapes frozen! They taste so good and are really the next best thing to sorbet ice cream on a hot day minus all the calories!
Egg whites: Egg whites may not sound so appealing but they are a high-quality protein which is important for bones, cartilage, blood, skin and muscles development. They also containing essential amino acids and ZERO cholesterol making them an ideal health food.
To enjoy egg whites, get creative. Try making an omelet with fresh ingredients such as avocado, cherry tomatoes and a sprinkling of cheese. Tasty! Or you could try it with spinach and cottage cheese!
Fish: Another high-quality source of protein is fish. They contain anti-inflammatory fats called omega-3 which help keep cancer and heart disease at bay. They also help lower bad cholesterol. Fish with the most omega 3 include salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, herring and rainbow trout.
Fish recipes can be as simple as pan frying them with salt and pepper or baking them in the oven the Malaysian way with soy, garlic and onion. Check out this yummy.
Apple cider vinegar: It is highly likely that many of you have already heard about apple cider vinegar and its almost magical properties. The list of remedies that apple cider vinegar addresses is extensive. From lowering blood pressure to promoting weight loss to removing warts! There’s almost nothing apple cider vinegar can’t be used for! Looking specifically about the benefits to your kidneys, apple cider vinegar helps to regulate the acidity in your blood, flushing out toxins and excess minerals so they don’t build up and form stones.
Take one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar a day with a glass of water before food to help your digestion.
Time to Spring Clean Those Kidneys
Most of us live a fast paced life, breathing in pollution and consuming refined foods. This puts a lot of strain on our system with our kidneys left with the exhausting task of sort through a lot of rubbish in our bodies. It is important to make sure that your kidneys are functioning and not overburdened. Look out for any signs of toxicity in your kidneys. According to DaVita, a leading provider of kidney care in the United States, indications of a build-up of waste in your kidneys include:
- A metallic taste in the mouth or ammonia breath
- An aversion to protein
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of appetite
- Itchiness (pruritus)
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, your kidneys may be overworked. Consider giving them a break by consuming foods that are less strenuous on your kidneys. Cleansing the kidneys could help prevent kidney infection and stone formation. It may also boosts immunity and flush away toxins.
If you want to try a kidney cleanse, Dr. Peter Bennett, a naturopathic doctor, recommends that you do it for about 7 days. We believe that even 1 day is a great place to start. No pressure.
Begin by following a low-protein diet. This means steering clear of dairy products, eggs, poultry, fish, and seafood, as these foods are high in phosphorus and encourage calcium deposition. Also, as hard and torturous as this may be, avoid chocolate and all caffeinated products. Sorry, but these foods increase calcium oxalate or uric acid in the kidneys and could lead to the development of kidney stones in susceptible people.
Here’s a list of foods to consider taking to help clear out your kidneys:
- Lemon or lime juice
- Pumpkin Seeds
As with all things, remember to take everything in moderation. Apples and cranberries contain oxalates and taking too much could also lead to the development of kidney stones, if you are susceptible. If you’re taking medication, please do clear it with your physician as certain food items may not interact well with your medication.
Kidney Flushing Yummy Juice Recipes
Juicing is a fun and delicious way to feed nutrients to your body. The following are some juice recipes you may want to try that can help cleanse your kidneys:
Basil (fresh) – 3 leaves
Blueberries – 1.5 cup
Cayenne Pepper (spice) – 2 pinch
Lime – 1/2 fruit
Watermelon – 5 cup, diced
Directions: Process all ingredients in a juicer, shake or stir and serve immediately.
2 large or 3 medium organic carrots
6 ribs of organic celery
1 medium-sized organic beetroot
1 organic cucumber with the peel
1 organic lemon (with peel)
1 bunch of parsley (as you purchased from the store) soaked in warm water
1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
Directions: Process all ingredients in a juicer, shake or stir and serve immediately.
Tomato – 1 medium whole
Watermelon – 1 large wedge (approx 1/8 of melon)
Directions: Blitz all ingredients together, shake or stir and serve immediately.