World Kidney Day is an annual event that aims to raise awareness about the importance of our kidneys in terms of our overall health, activities that have detrimental effects on them, and the steps we can take to ensure that we look after them properly.
In case you've forgotten your secondary school biology classes, the kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, about the size of your fist, that filter waste out of our blood to create urine. As they are responsible for keeping the blood clean, the health of our kidneys strongly reflects our overall health. However, as we are unable to really feel or see our kidneys, they can often be neglected and World Kidney Day aims to ensure that people are aware of just how important they really are. To that end, we have compiled a list of some of the best kidney friendly foods on the market.
Eating fruit is always a good idea if you're trying to maintain a healthy and balanced diet, but there are certain fruits that are particularly good for your kidneys. For example, cranberries, and especially 100% cranberry juice, are a great way to "clean" your kidneys. Cranberries make urine more acidic, which in turn makes it harder for bacteria to take hold. An added benefit of this is that is helps prevent urinary tract infections.
Blueberries are highly antioxidant, meaning they help to slow down or stop other elements from harming your cells. This can help regain or maintain good kidney health, although if you have a kidney disease, you should check with your doctor before consuming blueberries.
Strawberries have both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities, although they should be eaten in moderation. Furthermore, many strawberries use chemicals to make them swell to a larger size, which can be bad for your kidneys, so be sure only to buy organic strawberries when they are in season.
Grapefruits are low in potassium and sugar, but high in vitamin C. They are great for your immune system, and the perfect way to help your body stay healthy.
Raspberries are also antioxidant and can help keep your kidneys in good health. Just like blueberries however, you should check with your doctor if you have a pre-existing kidney disease before eating them.
Cherries also have antioxidant qualities, and they help with blood flow. As high blood pressure is a common side effect of kidney disease, this can be doubly beneficial.
Red or purple grapes help with blood flow and inflammation, as well as being yet another antioxidant.
Apples are another fruit that have an anti-inflammatory effect. In fact, apples are so good for your kidneys that not only is apple cider beneficial, it can even help to prevent or dissolve kidney stones.
Red bell peppers, cauliflower, and cabbage are all great sources of vitamins and folic acid, as well as being low in potassium. Since your kidneys are responsible for monitoring the amount of potassium in your body, it is important to watch your potassium intake if you have kidney problems, and these are great ways to do just that.
Kale is high in vitamins and low in potassium. It is also great for the immune system, and a fantastic source of iron, which is great for your kidneys.
Garlic and onions are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and low in potassium. Unfortunately, cooking the garlic will reduce its effect, so here's a little tip: buy some gum. Chewing gum will stop you crying while you cut the onions, and you can use it if you decide to eat raw garlic.
Oatmeal is a great source of iron and vitamin B6 that helps control cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar, as well as boost your immune system. You can even throw in some of the fruit mentioned above for a kidney friendly breakfast.
Olive oil is another antioxidant with anti-inflammatory qualities that can be used either for cooking or as part of a meal.
If you're looking for something other than cranberry juice or apple cider to drink, homemade lemonade can be really beneficial for your kidneys, as they also make urine more acidic.
If cider isn't to your taste, a glass of wine can help keep your kidneys healthy. But, unsurprisingly, this should be enjoyed in moderation. The research, gathered as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, says that the ideal amount is "less than one glass a day". Remember, if you're trying to keep your kidneys healthy, excessive alcohol consumption is not the way to do so.