Kidney Basics

The kidneys maintain the body’s delicate balance of fluid, acid, and alkaline constituents by disposing of surplus water, sodium, potassium, and other elements. They also help determine bone strength, activate vitamin D, and make a hormone needed for red blood cell production. Poor kidney function can lead to anemia, weaker bones, high blood pressure, a greater risk of general infection, and kidney stones.


General Advice

Drink about 6 glasses of fluid a day to help the kidneys dilute the substances they must excrete.
Avoid an excess intake of salt, protein, and sugar, each of which puts an extra load on the kidneys.

The KidneyHelpful Foods

Dried apricots, green leafy vegetables, potatoes, and bananas are rich in potassium, an ample supply of which helps the kidneys excrete the excessive amount of sodium found in a typical western-style diet.
Asparagus, celery, parsley, artichokes, and black currents have gentle diuretic properties, which help the kidneys dispose of body wastes by encouraging urine production.

Kidney Stones

A growing number of people develop kidney stones, which often recur. There is so much calcium oxylate compund or uric acid in their urine that it forms crystals.
When these pass down the urinary tract they cause pain, vomiting, and scarring. Known causal factors are a western-style diet and too little urine to dilute stone ingredients. This may occur after dehydration, or infections that affect the kidney efficiency.

General Advice for Kidney Stones

Avoid softened drinking water: people living in soft-water areas have a higher kidney stone risk.
Stones are much more common in those who eat meat than in vegetarians.
The stones of most sufferers contain calcium oxalate. High levels of this in the urine can be caused by poor digestion. Even though most oxalate is made in the body, if you have passed a stone containing this mineral, limit oxalate derived from food by avoiding spinach, rhubarb, and large amounts of strong black tea or cranberries.
Drinking 2-2 1/2 quarts of fluid a day is the most effective way to prevent more stones from forming.

Helpful Foods for Kidney Stones

Whole-grain cereals, wheat germ, nuts and seeds are rich in magnesium and fiber, which makes it easier for the body to excrete excess calcium and oxalate.
Wheat germ, bananas, potatoes, walnuts, red peppers, and cruciferous vegetables are high in vitamin B6, which helps the body dispose of oxalate harmlessly.
Cranberries in moderate amounts (of juice and berries), may help prevent calcium stones recurring by lowering calcium levels in the urine.

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