When you’re focusing on a healthier diet, you’ve likely thought about your heart, liver, brain, and even waistline. What we don’t often think about is one of the most important organs in our body: the kidneys. We have two of them, but they’re still technically one organ because they do the same job—and we can live with only one of them.
Our kidneys are there to remove toxins and fluid from the body. It’s because of them that we need to urinate to get rid of the bad and keep in the good.
But there’s so much that can affect them. When both kidneys fail, we need dialysis and transplants because our bodies just can’t survive without them. We can deal with just one, though. It’s important to keep them working properly and avoid problems like kidney stones.
That all means following the best diet for your kidney health. Here’s everything that you can eat to protect the organ.
Hydration Is Essential for Good Kidney Health
It’s easy to overlook the water, but please don’t. While you need plenty of great food, you also need to make sure that you get the fluids in there. Dehydration means that the kidneys don’t get the right messages for releasing water. You end up holding onto it, and this can lead to the formation of kidney stones—and trust me when I say they are extremely painful to pass.
Hydration is good for the overall health, so you should make it your number one priority. When your kidneys seem sluggish, help to remove the toxins by getting more water into your body and flush the toxins out.
If you think you’re hungry, grab a glass of water first. Dehydration can lead to the same feelings as hunger. You get the same messages to your brain, and will likely reach for the food first. Reach for the glass of water and see how you are after 30 minutes. If you still get the same messages, there are chances that you were hungry, but you’re not going to do too much harm if you drink enough.
You should get around eight glasses of water a day. This is around two liters. If it is hot outside, you’re ill, or you’ve been exercising, you will likely need more than that. Do watch out for drinking too much. You could take in far too much for your system, causing other issues for your kidneys. Eight to 10 glasses of water will be good for the average person in the average temperatures.
Water on its own is usually better. If you do want some flavouring, opt for a natural flavouring like lemon water.
Eat More Red Bell Peppers
Now it’s time for the food that will help your kidney health. Red bell peppers are the first ingredients on the list. You only need half a cup a day, and you’ll get plenty of potassium to help support your body. The big benefit of red bell peppers is the lack of sodium. There’s the only 1mg of sodium, which means it isn’t going to dehydrate your system and cause problems for the kidney function.
Let’s not forget about all the other nutrients that you can get from red bell peppers. They’re full of antioxidants, vitamins A, B6, B12, and C. There’s also plenty of fibre to keep your digestive system working as it should.You’ll find that the nutrients absorb better, so your organs benefit better. Your body is better protected against the likes of cancer and digestive tract problems, which means your kidneys aren’t affected negatively.
You can chop up peppers and throw them into almost any meal, and they can be eaten raw in a salad. They’re also great for snacks, chopped up with a bit of hummus or salsa as a dip.
Find a Way to Add Cabbage to Your Diet
Cabbage tends to be forgotten about. It’s one of those winter vegetables that isn’t the most popular with people. We’ve all got bad memories of the vegetable being forced on us as kids, right? Usually by grandparents or older parents?
Well, it’s time to get over your negative thoughts, because cabbage is one of the best ingredients for your kidneys. It is extremely high in phytochemicals, which help with the breakdown of the free radicals that are more commonly linked to the causing of cancer and dementia. The phytochemicals can also help to protect the cardiovascular health.
On top of that, there is plenty of vitamin K in the vegetable. This is necessary to help the blood clot when there’s an injury, without clotting too much within the body to cause obstructions and health risks. You’ll also get plenty of folic acids to help support the nervous system, while there’s vitamin C to support the immune system.
If you’re going to make a coleslaw at home, shred some green cabbage and mix it in with the onion and carrots. You can also create a fish taco topping with the vegetable and eat it far. Of course, many people will steam or boil it and use it as one of the vegetables for their Sunday roast. If you want to make it a little more exciting, add some cream cheese and pepper.
Don’t Forget the Cauliflower
You’ll see it in the shops, but how often do you reach for it and pop it in your trolley? Well, it could be time to do that because cauliflower is a great option for kidney health. It’s full of vitamin C and folate, which are essential for supporting the immune system and nervous system. When the rest of your body is working effectively, your kidneys don’t have to do as much work.
There are also some thiocyanates, indoles, and glucosinolates. Okay, the words mean nothing to you—they didn’t mean anything to me as well. All three are compounds that help neutralise toxins in the body. They support the liver, so not as many toxins are passed into the kidneys to get rid of. You’ll also find that the toxins aren’t given a chance to damage your DNA or any cell membranes, so you’re at a lower risk of numerous diseases and ailments that can not only put extra pressure on your kidneys but stop them working properly.
Like many other vegetables, it is very easy to include cauliflower into your diet. One of my favourites is eating it raw with hummus or another dip on the side. I tend to have it with raw broccoli, peppers, and carrots. Eating raw has also been linked with getting more of the nutrients into your body, as there is no cooking method to damage them.
However, if you prefer your cauliflower cooked, you can grate it up and microwave for a minute or so to soften. This replaces your rice when you have curries or Thai dishes. You can also make a cauliflower bake or mix it in with some pasta or mash and replace your potatoes with it for fewer carbs.
Be Plentiful with the Garlic and Onions
We can’t forget about how garlic and onions are excellent for the kidneys. They’re great overall because of some antioxidants in them, without too much sodium.
Let’s look at the garlic first. This has been known to remove plaque in the mouth and reduces the number of bacteria, which both help with the reduction of tooth decay and gum disease. There are also anti-inflammatory properties, which mean your whole body will benefit with better blood flow and better absorption of nutrients.
As for onions, the benefit comes from the reason we cry when cutting them and the pungent smell. They are full of quercetin, an antioxidant that reduces cancers and heart disease. They also help food groups metabolise in the bodies, so the rest of the system doesn’t have to do as much work.
Both of these foods tend to be used for flavouring disease. You can also eat onions raw with cheese or opt even fry them into onion rings! They’re great for all types of dishes, including curries, pasta meals, and stews.
Get Plenty of Berries in Your Diet
There are so many berries out there, and they’re all excellent for your kidney function. Cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, and even raspberries will all help you get better function and keep them as healthy as possible.
When it comes to cranberries, you can get the benefits in juice form, as a sauce, or even when dried. Other berries tend to work better when fresh or frozen since you’ll get more of the nutrients straight from them.
Let’s start with the benefits of cranberries. You’ve likely heard that if you have a bladder infection, then you need to reach for the cranberry juice. This is certainly true, and one of the reasons why these types of berries are perfect for kidney health. The cranberries help to protect against bacteria sticking to the wall of your bladder, so you have to deal with fewer infections.
But it’s not just your bladder that is protected. Your stomach wall is also protected with a lining, helping to keep the bacteria moving out of the system, through the kidneys, and out of the body.
It’s not just the juice that will offer this. It’s actually the cranberries, so you can get them in other forms that still have all the fibre. This will help to reduce the amount of sugar hitting your system.
So many other berries are full of antioxidants, which help with the fighting of cancer. They’re also excellent sources of vitamin C while being naturally sweet to help curb your sugar cravings.
Blueberries, in particular, are full of anthocyanidins. While they give the berries the blue colour, they are also important for reducing inflammation in the body. When the blood can pump properly, the kidneys get all the oxygenated blood they need to work effectively.
Raspberries have ellagic acid, which neutralises the free radicals in the body. Your cells in your kidneys are less likely to change and be susceptible to cancerous cells taking over. You’ll also get all the fibre, folate, and vitamin C your body needs to keep your kidneys working properly.
Strawberries, meanwhile, have anthocyanins to give them the red colour and protect the body from oxidative damage. They also have anti-inflammatory properties to keep the whole body working.
You can get these berries in so many different ways. The most effective are by eating them raw in a fruit salad, but you could also blend them together or with other ingredients in a smooth. Blueberries tend to work very well in green smoothies. The berries give you the sweetness that many of us crave after a dinner while offering so many other benefits, making them the perfect dessert option.
Keep Your Eggs, but Opt for Egg Whites
Eggs are definitely healthy for you, especially if you only opt for the egg whites. It’s the yolk that has all the cholesterol and the calories. With the egg whites, you’re just getting the nutritious goodness.
Egg whites are full of amino acids while providing less phosphorus than so many other protein sources. This means your kidneys are protected from the harmful element, while your body gets the protein that it needs for building stronger muscles and tissues.
The great thing about egg whites is that you don’t have to get messy separating the yolk and whites if you don’t want. It’s not possible to buy them powdered and in a bottle. They can be used in so many different ways too, whether you want an omelet, smoothie, or as a snack!
Make Sure You Get Your Omega-3
Omega-3 fatty acids cannot be left off the list. Sure, they’re usually included in the things to eat for a healthier brain, but they are also perfect for your kidneys. The best thing is you can get plenty of omega-3 from fish.
But isn’t this fat? Surely fat can’t be good for your kidneys. It’s worth pointing out that this is a healthy fat that helps with the reduction of the bad cholesterol in the body. It will actually help to reduce the amount of omega-6 while increasing the amount of good cholesterol at the same time.
You can get too much fish, especially oily fishes that are high in mercury. The American Heart Association recommends that you get two portions of fish a week. You don’t want to eat much more than three helpings, and that includes your tins of flaky tuna! Focus on some of the more oily and heart-beneficial fishes, like salmon, trout, and herring.
You Need Other Healthy Fats
When you can’t have your fish, other healthy fats are a necessity. This means cooking with certain oils, like olive, coconut, or almond oil. They are so much better for you than the likes of corn or vegetable oil, as the healthy fats are full of monounsaturated options. That means they don’t cause a clog in your arteries, leading to health problems.
Olive oil is especially beneficial because it’s an anti-inflammatory. We’ve already covered why this on its own is a benefit, but when it comes to the olive oil the anti-inflammatory goodness can also help to prevent oxidation. You’re at a much lower risk of developing the likes of cancer and heart disease.
It’s not too difficult to add olive oil into your diet. Start by replacing your vegetable oil with it. You can also use it as a salad dressing with some balsamic vinegar or as a dip for your bread or kidney-helping vegetables.
Now It’s Up to You to Protect Your Kidneys
With the list of foods up there, only you can give your kidneys the best chance in your life. By focusing on ingredients that are high in antioxidants, vitamin C, folate, and even omega-3, you will find that your body is less prone to cancers and heart disease. Oxidation isn’t as much of a problem, and you’ll be able to keep your kidneys functioning 100%.
Don’t forget about the power of hydration. Water is an essential part of the diet and often forgotten about. We tend to focus so much on the food we eat and not the drinks that we have.
With the right diet, you can help to prevent the formation of kidney stones and reduce the risk that toxins can have on the organ.