The kidneys – two bean-shaped organs – are located just below the rib cage, on either side of the spine. The adrenal glands are located above each kidney. Each day, the kidneys filter up to 140 liters of blood and eliminate waste through urine. It is among other things to maintain good kidney function that it is important to drink enough water. Indeed, chronic low-grade dehydration is one of the most common factors causing kidney stones.
4 indicators that the kidneys are suffering
Poor kidney function is also associated with other serious health conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. Here are some of the common signs of kidney problems:
– Frequent urination
– Difficulty urinating
– Pain or burning sensation during urination
– A constant thirst
Good kidney function is essential for maintaining homeostasis in the body, and first and foremost for the stability of blood composition. Maintaining a correct pH level and a good electrolyte balance (the proportions of sodium, potassium and phosphates), for example, are part of the role of the kidneys. They also produce hormones that make red blood cells and others that regulate blood pressure.
Dietary factors that threaten kidney health
Among the residues sorted by the kidneys and eliminated in the urine, we find urea and uric acid, resulting respectively from the decomposition of proteins and nucleic acids.
Excessive protein intake increases urea levels; as for uric acid, it is a derivative of the metabolism of proteins and fructose. Fructose typically raises uric acid levels within minutes of ingesting it.
Most people consume three to five times more protein than they need, and two to four times (at least) more fructose than the maximum recommended dose. These two dietary factors, individually, but even more so when combined, significantly overload the kidneys and promote kidney disorders and stones.
Kidney stones are particularly associated with a diet high in refined fructose and other sugars because sugar upsets the balance of minerals in the body, interfering with the absorption of calcium and magnesium. The phosphoric acid contained in soft drinks also acidifies the urine, promoting the formation of kidney stones.
It is known that excessive and/or long-term intake of analgesic drugs also damages the kidneys. This includes aspirin, anti-inflammatories, (NSAIDs), ibuprofen, especially if taken in combination with alcohol, even in small amounts.
3 simple tips to protect your kidneys
1) Limit protein intake to what your body needs. The ideal protein intake is around one gram of protein per pound of lean body mass, which is about 40-70 grams per day for most people.
2) Limit fructose intake to 25 grams per day (about 6 teaspoons), or even less (especially if you are insulin or leptin resistant).
3) Drink pure, clean water. Simply replacing sugary drinks like sodas and fruit juices with plain water goes a long way to improving kidney function and overall health.
Potassium: The Indispensable Element for Kidney Health
Potassium is a nutrient that is of primary concern when you suffer from kidney disease. Potassium (mineral salt and electrolyte) is essential for the proper functioning of your cells, tissues and organs. It plays a vital role in heart health, digestive and muscle functions, bone health, and more.
Although potassium is present in many commonly consumed foods including fruits, vegetables, dairy products, salmon, sardines and nuts, only 2% of adults consume enough of it, i.e. 4,700 milligrams ( mg), which is the recommended daily allowance.
This can be a problem because it is important to maintain a balance between potassium and sodium present in the blood. With excessive sodium intake, which is common among people who eat a lot of processed foods, potassium needs increase. People with chronic malabsorption syndromes, such as Crohn’s disease, or taking heart medication (especially diuretics) are also particularly at risk for potassium deficiency (hypokalemia).
However, anyone with an unbalanced diet – too many processed foods and too few fresh, whole foods – is at risk of low potassium.
That being said, as a general rule, people with severe kidney function problems should reduce their intake of potassium-rich foods. Why ? Because the role of the kidneys is, among other things, to keep a sufficient quantity of potassium in the body, and when they are not working properly, the potassium level risks being much too high.
How much potassium to best protect the kidneys
If your kidneys are working properly, the recommended daily allowance of potassium is around 4,700 mg, the balance with sodium should be maintained. As a general rule, the potassium to sodium ratio should be around 5 to 1. The easiest way to achieve this ratio is to eat REAL food (plenty of fresh vegetables), ideally local produce and organic, to ensure optimal nutrient content.
This type of whole-food diet will naturally provide you with more potassium than sodium, whereas a processed-food diet is virtually certain to provide you with the reverse ratio. Consuming fresh vegetable juice is also a good way to ensure you get enough potassium.