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Renal Wellness 101: Taking Care of Your Kidneys

drinking water

The kidneys, the two little bean-shaped organs that sit behind the stomach, are responsible for filtering and balancing the components of the blood. They’re a major part of the body’s detoxification system, and they perform functions such as toxin removal, pH balance, and regulation of blood sugar and blood pressure. Understanding how your kidneys work, what habits may be causing them harm, and how to maintain their health is an essential component of total body wellness.

How Do The Kidneys Work?

The kidneys are the two bean-shaped organs that sit just under the rib cage and behind the stomach. They’re responsible for ridding the blood of excess and harmful substances and ensuring all its components are properly balanced. Specifically, the roles of the kidneys include removing toxins and waste, and balancing pH, blood sugar, and blood pressure levels.

drinking water

In some of our previous posts we’ve talked about toxin overload, but what’s the kidneys’ role in it? The main function of the kidneys is to filter any waste – excess fluid, protein waste, acids, and toxins – from the blood, and transport it to be excreted from the body via urine. Essentially, they keep these waste and by-products from building up and causing issues. The filtering is done by what are known as glomeruli (groups of tiny blood vessels) and the renal tubules (tiny tubes that reabsorb and return needed water and nutrients to the blood). This also keeps blood pH balanced due to filtering out excess acids. 

Did you know that your kidneys can also produce glucose? They not only help metabolize blood sugar, they help create it, too. At the same time that the blood is being combed through for waste, the kidneys are also determining what the blood may need. The two-step process involving glycogenolysis and gluconeogenesis breaks down and forms new glucose molecules. This ensures that blood sugar levels are properly balanced before being released back into the bloodstream.

The kidneys are also effective at regulating blood pressure. When blood pressure gets too low or too high, the kidneys use the water and sodium in the body to regulate blood volume. They can determine whether blood volume should be increased or decreased, and lower or raise excretion rates to adjust it. This process is triggered by an enzyme called renin working in tandem with other hormones in the blood. Renin is produced and released into the blood by the kidneys. 

With the kidneys being as multitalented as they are, it’s critical that they’re always able to function normally.

What Causes Kidney Damage?

To understand how to properly care for the kidneys, knowing what may be causing them harm is key. According to the National Kidney Foundation, several common, but unhealthy habits may be doing more damage to your kidneys than you realize. 

Overusing Painkillers

If you find yourself reaching for a bottle of painkillers quite often, chances are you could be causing your kidneys some damage. While moderate usage is okay (think every now and then for a headache or rolled ankle), constant usage may be dangerous. Overusing painkillers can harm the filtering blood vessels in the kidneys, which can lead to analgesic nephropathy. This chronic kidney problem can also lead to other conditions, like acute kidney failure, cancer, or atherosclerosis.


Not Drinking Enough Water

It’s been said again and again, but it bears repeating – drink your water. This is especially helpful for your kidneys because of the way they utilize the body’s water content. They use water to create urine that excretes filtered wastes, and to balance blood pressure levels. Without it, blood filtration and mineral balancing can become difficult, leading to kidney stones and possible UTIs.

Too Much Processed Sugar

As it turns out, processed sugar may be more of a danger to the kidneys than many realize. An article by GreenMedInfo states that sugar is more damaging to the kidneys than salt. This may be because sugar increases acid and calcium excretion through the urine, enhancing the reabsorption of sodium in the kidney. This causes more concentrated urine and, in turn, a greater risk of kidney stones. Regularly consuming artificially sweetened foods can put you at greater risk of developing kidney stones.

Physical Inactivity

physical inactivity

Another factor contributing to poor kidney health includes low levels of physical activity, also known as sedentary behavior. Physical activity helps regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels, which makes the kidneys’ part in this less demanding. Constant sitting may dump a lot of this regulation onto the kidneys, making them chronically stressed. Physical inactivity also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes, which are all risk factors for kidney disease.

How You Can Protect Your Kidneys’ Health

Now that we understand a few of the risk factors for poor kidney health, let’s discuss how we can establish good kidney health. 

Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is one of the pillars of health, and for good reason. Prioritizing fruits and vegetables, drinking enough water, and avoiding highly processed foods can do wonders for overall wellness. In regards to the kidneys, eating foods that are low in potassium can be most helpful. Foods low in potassium include:

  • Apples
  • Cabbage
  • Pineapples 
  • Boiled cauliflower 
  • Plums
  • Strawberries 
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Cranberries 

Avoiding foods with artificial sweeteners is also a good way to keep your kidneys in good health. As mentioned earlier, artificial sugars can decrease kidney function over time due to their high acidity. Some delicious and healthy alternatives include honey, stevia, and coconut sugar. 

Regular Exercise

Incorporating physical activity into your daily routine is essential for many reasons, but the benefits can directly impact kidney health as well. Regular exercise helps balance blood sugar and blood pressure levels, which the kidney helps to regulate on top of its blood-filtering responsibilities. Staying active may keep them from getting overwhelmed and overworked.

Regular physical activity is also a great way to keep kidney disease risk factors at bay. Conditions such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes are all significant risk factors for kidney disease, and exercise is one of the best ways to prevent these from developing. 


If you’re at a higher risk for kidney issues or simply want to add another layer of protection, certain supplements may help with that. 

Hydrangea extract has been shown to counteract inflammation, oxidative stress, and apoptosis (cell death). One study found that Hydrangea extract was able to reduce renal tubule damage. It’s great for keeping the kidneys in perfect working order. 

Dandelion extract can also be a great supplement to help with kidney health. Dandelion acts as a diuretic, causing the kidneys to create more urine. More frequent urination can keep the urine from getting too concentrated, and help with mineral balance. Native Americans have used dandelion to treat kidney disease for centuries by boiling it in water and drinking it. 

Quality Sleep


Getting quality sleep is also essential to good kidney health. It turns out that kidney function is regulated by the sleep-wake cycle, and helps the kidneys distribute their workload over 24 hours. People who get less sleep seem to have a faster decline in kidney function. Prioritizing deep sleep encourages proper kidney function, and helps to keep their stress levels low. 

To Sum It All Up

Proper kidney function is important. The kidneys do so much for our bodies, including filtering out waste and maintaining the blood’s homeostasis. When we aren’t prioritizing a healthy lifestyle, they can get overworked and overwhelmed. This can lead to conditions such as toxin overload and kidney disease. 

Maintaining a healthy diet, including regular exercise in your routine, and dedicating yourself to getting quality sleep are great ways to ensure that the kidneys are kept in pristine condition. Supplements may also be an effective tool to improve kidney health. 

*Disclaimer: our content and blogs are for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, prescribe, or replace medical advice from a physician. If you are experiencing health issues, please see your healthcare provider.

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