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It is easy to take your kidneys for granted. In fact, most of us don't even know what our kidneys do or how much can go wrong with them, until, of course, something bad happens. Those folks that have experienced the unpleasantness of having kidney stones have reported that they are even more painful than child birth and no one is happy when they have a urinary tract infection. Before we delve into the best foods to eat to help maintain optimal kidney health, here is a brief lesson in what a kidney is and how they help us on a day to day basis.
The majority of humans are blessed with two kidneys. They are bean shaped and each are approximately the size of your fist. Your kidneys reside right below the rib cage, one on each side of the spine; And their job is very important and constant. Most of us think that kidneys just make urine, but they do so much more. Kidneys keep the composition of our blood stable, which helps in the over-all function of our entire body. They prevent the build up of extra fluid and waste, they help produce the hormones that regulate blood pressure, make red blood cells and aid in keeping bones stay strong.
Every day our kidneys filter between 120-150 quarts of blood to produce one to two quarts of urine. And yet, we are able to survive with only one of these hard working organs. Voluntary kidney donations have become very popular in recent years and have saved thousands of lives.
Maintaining healthy kidneys are very important and here are a list of the foods that can help you with this vital task. And remember to drink lots of water!
One of the best and purest forms of protein around, egg whites help keep your kidneys in tip-top shape. They are also quite culinarily versatile. Aside from the basic omelette, you can hard boil them for salads, mix them in shakes and use them for baking healthy treats. Egg whites contain essential amino acids and have less phosphorous than other sources of protein. A study was done on dialysis patients who replaced servings of meat with egg whites and they were found to lower phosphorus in the blood while maintaining a healthy albumin level; Albumin being the most common protein found in your blood.
This versatile vegetable is a super source of folate, fiber and vitamin C. Cauliflower helps reduce inflammation and the oxidation of fats to promote healthy kidney function. It also contains compounds that help your liver neutralize toxic substances in your body. And for those of you who like mashed potatoes, but need to stay away from starches, mashed cauliflower makes a delicious and healthy substitute. You can boil it, bake it, roast it and just munch on it cold and crispy.
A true super-food, blueberries are a natural antioxidant. Also rich in quercetin, anthocyanin and other flavonoid compounds, they are famous for improving kidney function. Nephrologists like their kidney patients on a limited potassium and dietary phosphorus diet and blueberries are low in both of those. It also helps that they are really delicious and when they aren't in season, you can buy them frozen at your local supermarket and make a plethora of recipes with them.
Salmon, tuna, flounder- pick your fish, they are healthy and delicious. Nutritionists recommend substituting fish for other proteins (like chicken or meat) two to three times a week. Fish contain anti-inflammatory fats called omega 3's. Aside from being really good swimmers, fish also help reduce your bad cholesterol , LDL, and help raise your good cholesterol, HDL. You can't go wrong with a good piece of fish-squeeze some fresh lemon on it and you are good to go!
Does an apple a day keep the doctor away? It should, because apples are crunchy, delicious, versatile and packed with vitamins that are good for you. They help reduce your cholesterol levels, prevent constipation and have anti-inflammatory properties. Apples can also prevent kidney stones; and if you have ever had a kidney stone, you know that you never want to have one them again. You can drink apple juice to get your daily dose of apple-goodness or you can bake an apple for a yummy snack. Whether you throw them in a salad, or munch on one straight from a tree, you can't go wrong with this super-fruit.
Though not always good for your breath, onions are good for your kidneys. Another vegetable that is chock full of flavonoids, which are natural chemicals that prevent the deposit of fatty material in blood vessels, onions contain anti-oxidants that help prevent heart disease and certain forms of cancer. Not a food that you may eat on its own, the onion can be added to so many types of delicious dishes-making them both healthier and tastier.
It is always comforting to know that a fruit as sweet and scrumptious as a strawberry is also good for your kidneys. Red berries are also blessed with anthocyanins that have been linked to helping prevent a number of chronic illnesses. Rich in vitamin C, manganese and fiber, these berries are great for maintaining healthy kidneys, as they also provide a tremendous amount of flavonoid antioxidants, which help to rid the body of things that can be harmful to your kidneys.
Red grapes are excellent for kidney health. For those on fluid-restrictive diets, frozen grapes are a wonderful thirst quencher. The properties that give the grapes their red color are good for your heart because they prevent oxidation and help reduce the chance of blood clots. The National Kidney Foundation recommends eating 15 grapes a day to help maintain good kidney health. You can also drink a cold glass of grape juice, without added sugar, or cut up some grapes and toss them in a salad.
Research has shown that countries that favor the use of olive oil, have a lower incidence of heart disease and cancer. Though this is hard to prove with a shadow of a doubt, the properties in olive oil are healthier than those in other types of vegetable base oils. Olive oil contains a natural anti-inflammatory known as oleic acid and antioxidants. Research has also shown that olive oil can help reduce the incidence of diabetes and control blood sugar. It also has many other functions, one of which being helping prevent renal failure.