Today I'm going to tell you the truth about kidney detox or kidney cleanse. If you go to the internet, social media, or have seen some of these infomercials, you can find all kinds of information on how to cleanse your kidneys fast. Two-day, three-day, or overnight miracles so they seem. And as I have researched, I found that many of these quick fixes actually oversimplify. You see, there's no overnight way to detox or cleanse the kidneys, but there are several ways to help the kidneys to filter better. So today, I'm going to talk to you about the truth about kidney cleanses and detoxes, and I'm going to give you seven ways to help your kidneys filter better.
The Function of Kidneys
Most of us are each born with two kidneys, and they're down in your flanks or your lower backs, where the love handles are. The function of your kidneys is to filter out the blood. They cleanse the blood, they get rid of excess toxins and excess water. They also do a number of other things including balance electrolytes, they help you not be anemic, and they help you with bone health.
So, when you think about most filters, like an air conditioning filter, for example, you can think about it building up over time, getting all the things that it's filtering out, making it to be clogged. And so you need to cleanse it or get a new filter or unclog it, right? Detox it in a sense, when you think about a typical filter.
But actually, the kidneys don't quite function in that way. Yes, your kidneys are a filter, but they also consist of blood vessels. And they're much more complex than that. So, you don't detox or just unclog a kidney, the way that you would a typical filter. When I look at all these different infomercials and things on the internet, they promise to detox or give you a quick kidney cleanse, many of them are just really oversimplifying it and some of them are actually untrue.
Managing Kidney Health
Even though most people are born with two kidneys, you actually only need one functioning kidney to live and to live well. That's why, if you're a healthy person, you're able to donate a kidney and that one kidney you have doesn't leave you with half of your kidney function. It actually builds up and it does the work of two kidneys.
The thing is, you have to keep your kidneys healthy and there are many ways to do so. But if you allow your kidneys to be damaged over time, and when I say to "allow" your kidney, sometimes it's through no fault of your own.
There are people who are born with certain diseases like lupus, or they develop diabetes at an early age. And there are certain things that can cause kidney disease like FSGS, IgA nephropathy, a number of things, that are through no fault of your own if you have those kidney problems. But a lot of the things that cause kidney disease are actually preventable or manageable at least.
Causes of Kidney Failure
The top two causes of kidney failure are number one, diabetes, and number two, high blood pressure. These are often preventable diseases or certainly manageable diseases. Other things like being dehydrated can cause kidney failure or receiving certain toxins from different types of medicines that are harmful. Those are all preventable.
And a very key measure of keeping your kidneys clean is to have a healthy diet. So the foods that we put into our bodies can help us to have kidneys that filter better. And that's what we'll talk about. So it's not necessarily a quick fix, de-clogging, or detoxing. It's just a long-term lifestyle that helps your kidneys filter better.
Do You Need A Kidney Detox?
When patients come to see me they often ask the question, "Doctor, do I need a kidney detox?" "Doctor, do I need a kidney cleanse?" And the answer is, no. You don't need to go online and order that two-day, three-day, five-day, or seven-day, quick kidney cleanse, or quick kidney detox.
But what you do need to do is implement long-term lifestyle changes to help your kidneys filter better. Now when I say that, that doesn't mean that everything that you see is false when people talk about the smoothies or the juicing that's healthy for the kidneys.
By no means am I saying that they're giving you unhealthy advice because when I go through and I look at some of the common ingredients I hear about in these detoxes or these cleanses, a lot of them are heart-healthy foods and kidney-healthy foods. A lot of them contain ingredients that are good for your overall health. And of course, when your overall health is good, your kidney health can be better as well.
Foods That Detox Kidneys
There are certain foods that can help detox your kidneys and promote their health. I'm going to point out some of these foods that I see as ingredients in a lot of these kidney detoxes and cleanses.
And even if I do feel that a lot of what's out there is often oversimplified, I'll let you know which foods, and which ingredients, actually are good for your kidney health.
So, one thing I see in a lot of the detoxes is lemons. And lemons actually are a very kidney-healthy food. They have vitamin C, and they have a lot of citrates. And vitamin C is actually really good at enhancing your immune system. Vitamin C can also help to promote your white blood cells, as far as how you fight infections. It can help you to have a shorter duration of certain illnesses, like respiratory illnesses. And that's why you see a lot of people really boost up the vitamin C they take if they feel themselves coming down with a cold. There's truth in that, it's the vitamin C.
There's also citrate. Citrate is something that you can also find in lemons, and citrate is good for kidney health. If you are a person who's actually predisposed to kidney stones, then taking in the citrate can help to decrease your kidney stone formation. Be sure to watch my video on kidney stones after you finish reading this article.
The other thing that's good about lemons in general, is that they are good for your digestion. And so you'll see that a lot of these detoxes include lemon and lemon water, and I actually do agree that lemon water and having lemons in your diet, is a way to help your kidneys to filter better.
Carrots are another kidney-healthy food. Now again, when I'm talking about detox or cleanse, remember, nothing is a quick fix, and nothing is overnight.
You're not going to have kidneys that are damaged and on the verge of needing a transplant or dialysis, then all of a sudden have a carrot smoothie and then it reverses it. No. But carrots are a food that can help your kidneys to filter better in the long run.
So here's the scoop on carrots. Carrots have beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and vitamin A. They also have antioxidant properties and they're good for inflammation.
You will often see bananas in a lot of these kidney cleanses and detoxes, and bananas are, again, another kidney healthy food and something that should be used to help to promote your kidney health.
You want to be careful because bananas are high in potassium, and if you already have CKD or chronic kidney disease, then you want to make sure that you consult with your physician and your dietician to learn how much potassium you should have.
Patients with advanced kidney disease often need to limit potassium. But in general, bananas have high potassium and potassium is something that is good for helping you to lower your blood pressure naturally. And the potassium can also help to soften blood vessels and decrease blood pressure.
Again, high blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney failure. So certainly, if bananas are going to help you to lower blood pressure, that's another way to help your kidneys to filter better.
Cilantro and Parsley
You'll see a lot of cilantro and parsley in some of these kidney detox recipes, and it's one of those cases where they are healthy foods. They certainly will not hurt. But when you take the cilantro and you mix it with water and you mix it with lemon, I just don't want you to think that it's magic in and of itself. There are other things that you need to do in order to promote your kidney health.
Oh, yeah I'm from Florida so I really love oranges. They have plenty of vitamin C, they have potassium and they are a kidney healthy food. Again, remember with that high potassium, if you already are on dialysis or you have advanced kidney disease, watch your potassium levels.
Strawberries also have high potassium, which is good for lowering blood pressure, good for softening the blood vessels, and they're very tasty. Strawberries are also very good in smoothies and juices, but again, make sure you find out from your doctor how much potassium you should have? When you see the strawberries, and oranges in these kidney detoxes and cleanses, or as part of the smoothies, yes, they're healthy, but again, no miracle, nothing overnight.
Celery is something else that you'll find when you peruse the internet and social media for kidney cleanses. Celery is a kidney-healthy food and it has a lot of alkaline properties. It can also have some diuretic-like properties that can help you to get rid of excess fluid. Celery also has coumarins which can help to increase vascular flow. And it's rich in vitamins like vitamin D, vitamin C, and vitamin K. So again, celery is a food that can help to filter your kidneys better in the long run.
I love apples because they're great in smoothies. They give it a nice little tart, sweet taste. They're loaded down with fiber, and we know that fiber is something that can help to unclog the arteries naturally, and having unclogged arteries, specifically unclogged kidney arteries, is a way to help your kidneys to filter better.
And so you'll see apples included in a lot of these detoxes and these cleanses. Apples are good for kidney health and I actually like to use them when I do my own smoothies. You hear that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. It's an apple among a lot of things with a healthy lifestyle.
Spinach and Kale
I love spinach and kale, not only to have them in my salads, but I also like to add them to my smoothies. And when I first started doing that I thought that adding spinach to a smoothie would be horrible, but it's really not. It doesn't have a super-strong flavor, but what it does have is a whole lot of kidney health benefits.
So, having spinach and kale in your diet is a way to help your kidneys to filter better. Spinach has iron and folate, and it has vitamins. Spinach also has potassium, which can help to lower blood pressure. This power vegetable also has beta-carotene and antioxidant properties, which can help to decrease inflammation.
All of these things are helpful in kidney health. So when you see spinach or kale as a part of the detox or a kidney cleanse, again, remember that there's no overnight miracle, but yes, spinach and kale are a way to help your kidneys to filter better.
Blueberries and raspberries are excellent for fighting inflammation. They both have great antioxidant properties, good flavor, and are sweet and tart. I definitely love to add berries to my smoothies.
I mentioned that diabetes is the number one cause of kidney failure. But I do understand that when you are creating certain smoothies, and certain juices, that promote kidney health, you'd like it to be sweet. Well, here's the truth of the matter. I typically do not add any sweetener to my smoothies. I don't even add the honey. I know some people use stevia, and that's okay, but I typically don't even add that, because I get my sweetness from the fruits.
And so if you're someone who likes to add sugar to a lot of your drinks, try to wean that off, try to stop that, because you certainly don't want to have high carbs, high sugar, and push yourself into being someone who has diabetes or uncontrolled diabetes.
But if you are going to choose a sweetener for your smoothie, then honey is a great option.
So now I've reviewed some of the ingredients that you'll see in the kidney detoxes and the kidney cleanses. I want you to be careful. If you see that the kidney detox is a pill or in liquid form, you don't always know the ingredients. In other words, the people who produce these detoxes can have proprietary blends, and so when you review those detoxes with your kidney doctor, your nephrologist, or your primary care doctor, they can't always give you proper counsel because they don't know everything that's in the detox.
Just remember, there's no quick fix. There's nothing overnight. If you're dealing with juices or suggestions that have some of these ingredients that I've mentioned, then yes, they can be kidney healthy. But, if your doctor has already told you that you have advanced kidney disease or kidney scarring or it's time for dialysis, then even with all of the fruits and vegetables, there's no quick overnight turnaround.
You have to consult with your physician and consult with your nephrologist because you'll be given the best ways to reverse the kidney disease, if possible, or to slow the progression.
Seven Ways To Cleanse Your Kidneys and Promote Good Kidney Health
So now that we've talked about the truth about kidney detox, let me give you seven ways to help your kidneys to filter better.
1. Drink Water
Most people need to drink around two to three liters of water per day. And so if you think about a typical 16-ounce water bottle, that's anywhere from four to six bottles a day.
But you want to consult with your physician, because if you have advanced kidney disease or if you have lung disease, or congestive heart failure, you may be on a fluid restriction. But in general, staying properly hydrated is a way to help your kidneys to filter better.
2. Low Sodium Diet
You don't want to have a diet with excess sodium, because that will lead to high blood pressure, which is the number two cause of kidney failure. Be sure to watch my video on 15 foods to avoid if you have high blood pressure after you finish reading this article.
3. Maintain Normal Blood Pressure
Having a normal blood pressure and not having too much pressure in your glomerular, or your kidney cells, is another way to improve your kidney function.
4. Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
If you are a person who is overweight or a person who is living with obesity, please consult with your physician or your dietician. And you want to maintain a healthy weight, or get as close to that healthy weight as you can.
Even if you end up struggling and you're trying to diet and do all these things, and you're not as thin or skinny as you want to be, don't worry about that. But be in that process of getting to a healthy weight, because if you are a person who's living with obesity, then that is a risk factor for kidney disease.
5. Prevent Diabetes
Prevent diabetes or if you have the diagnosis of diabetes, you certainly want to manage it. Diabetes is the number one cause of kidney failure. So make sure you talk to your physician and find out what your hemoglobin A1C is.
You want to find out if you are a pre-diabetic, if you have diabetes, or if you're at risk. And if so, you want to manage it, you want to prevent it. Because if you are able to control diabetes or prevent it altogether, that is a key way to helping your kidneys filter better.
Exercise, it's not any huge, great secret. According to the American Heart Association, most people should be exercising for 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise. So that's about five days of 30 minutes of exercise each day. This will help in a lot of ways. It can help you to have that normal blood pressure we talked about. It can help you to prevent that diabetes or to manage it. It can also help you to get to that healthy body weight. So exercise is another way to help your kidneys to filter better.
7. A Kidney Healthy Diet
You want to have a kidney healthy diet that is mostly plant-based. You don't want a lot of saturated fats, carbs, or processed foods. A kidney healthy diet will help you to have a healthy body weight. It will help you to prevent diabetes, and it will help you to have normal blood pressure.
So those are seven ways that you can help your kidneys function better, and therefore, cleanse your kidneys and promote good kidney health. If you have any questions, please be sure to consult with your physician.