Did you know that on average, more than 1 in 7 United States adults have some organ damage that can keep these crucial body parts from adequately functioning? When it comes to an organ that does plenty of hard work, filtering our waste, regulating blood pressure, converting vitamin D into a usable form—our kidneys may not be getting the attention they deserve. In 2021, the CDC released their new statistics on chronic kidney disease (CKD), showing that this condition is still rising. The CDC estimates around 37 million people in the US have CKD, compared to their 2017 estimate of 26 million people. When our kidneys don't work correctly, this can lead to other health issues such as heart disease, stroke, or early death, and 9 in 10 people statistically have no idea they have CKD.(1) If you have diabetes or high blood pressure or are older—your risk for chronic kidney disease increases as well. Suppose you've been worried about the chances of CKD, whether now or in the future. No matter what age you may be, there are a handful of simple things you can do today to begin to lower your odds of this disease or even slow its progression. Here are some of the top raw foods and a few tips that can help improve kidney function and may have other healthful benefits!
Tips And Tricks to Give Your Kidneys a Rest
Take a Meatless DayAs Americans, many of us tend to consume almost twice the amount of protein we need daily, typically from meat. While it is crucial to have protein in your diet, too much of it can become an issue. When our bodies digest protein, byproducts are created. These byproducts need to be filtered out of our blood and then eliminated by our kidneys. If you are already suffering from CKD, or your kidneys are already stressed, this can further stress already compromised kidneys. If your diet consists of meat every day, for most every meal, consider trying meatless alternatives, vegetarian meals, or going one day a week without meat to give your kidneys a much-deserved break. Work toward completely eliminating meat and dairy from your diet if you desire to achieve optimal health.
Boost Your Fiber IntakeWhen your body metabolizes fiber, it creates beneficial compounds that can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation, two factors that are critical for kidney health. This process can also reduce the production of toxins that are damaging to your kidneys. Short-chain fatty acids derived from the gut microbial fermentation of fiber have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and immune-modularity properties in acute kidney injury (AKI.)(2) Scientific researchers are now dedicated to delving further into what other benefits for your kidneys there might be for those who ensure they consume their daily dietary fiber intake.
Less Soda and Sugar-Sweetened DrinksAccording to several scientific studies and the National Kidney Foundation, higher blood sugars and those who are diagnosed with diabetes, both Type 1 and Type 2, account for almost 44% of new cases of CKD.(3) Factors that can help reduce your risk of CKD are control over high blood pressure, dietary protein intake, and control of blood sugar levels. Where can you start? If you're a sugar-sweetened fan of soda or pop, you may want to begin by slowly reducing the amount of soda you drink as well as decreasing the amount of sugar-sweetened fruit juices (juices that are not 100% juice). Excess sugar builds up in your blood glucose level, and that can eventually begin to damage your kidneys. An ultimate goal of eliminating all sources of refined sugar can be achieved if one is dedicated to achieving ultimate health. Picture yourself still doing your favorite hobbies into your 80s and 90s. It won't happen if you keep drinking soda, which leads to weekly appointments with a dialysis machine. Hobbies or dialysis? Your choice.
Lower the SaltAccording to the American Heart Association's recommended limit, you should be aiming to consume no more than 2,300 mg of salt per day, with the ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg a day for adults. On average, the typical American tends to eat more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day, much more than is recommended. High sodium intakes have been linked to higher risks of kidney disease. In patients already suffering from chronic kidney disease, it is necessary to strictly control sodium intake to decrease proteinuria (abnormal quantities of protein in the urine) and preserve what kidney function remains.(4) For our salt needs, it is best to consume unrefined sea salt and completely avoid refined table salt.
The Raw Foods That Improve Kidney Function
- You've probably heard us talk about how beneficial they are to other organs of the body, but truthfully, omega-3s are critical for your entire body, as we cannot make our own. As well as possibly being vital in helping control blood clotting and building cell membranes in the brain, omega-3s have been shown to help decrease the risk of abnormal heartbeats, reduce triglyceride levels, and slightly lower blood pressure.(5) Eating fish exposes one to a high level of toxins. The best way to insure an optimal Omega 3 intake is with a clean, third-party tested and properly processed fish oil such as the Hallelujah Diet fish oil.
- Sweet potatoes. It is similar to white potatoes but richer in healthful fiber, causing them to break down in your gut more slowly, resulting in a lowered level of insulin spikes. However, keep in mind that sweet potatoes are a high potassium food, and many who already have CKD may be cautioned to limit their potassium intake.
- Blueberries. Packed full of antioxidants, these are a low-calorie source of fiber and Vitamin C and also perfect for satisfying a sweet craving without any processed sugars or sweeteners. Many studies are currently revealing that consuming blueberries may have a broader effect on the body's health than we thought. It is widely recommended by doctors and scientists alike that increased consumption of blueberries for health is highly encouraged.(6)
- Apples. Low in potassium, high in pectin, a soluble fiber that may lower cholesterol and glucose levels. Make sure to eat them with the peel on for an additional source of antioxidants.
- Dark Leafy Greens and Leafy Greens. Dark leafy greens low in potassium like kale, or leafy greens like alfalfa sprouts, green beans, asparagus, green cabbage, celery, cucumbers, lettuce, and green peas contain a large variety of vitamins, fibers, and minerals as well as being an excellent source of antioxidants.