Welcome to March—National Kidney Month!
You don’t always hear about kidneys and health, but if the kidneys aren’t functioning correctly, then health certainly is adversely affected. In fact, diabetes can wreak havoc on kidneys due to how high blood sugar can damage the entire body, including the kidneys.
The truth is that one in three Americans is at risk for kidney disease due to the effects of diabetes, high blood pressure or family history of kidney disease. According to the National Kidney Foundation, more than 26 million Americans have kidney disease—the ninth leading cause of death in our country—while millions more are at risk.
But let’s start with the important role of the kidneys. Their task is to remove waste products and excess fluid from the body via urine, a process that maintains a stable balance of chemicals in the body. But that’s not all the kidneys do. Amazingly, they also filter 200 liters of blood daily, helping to regulate blood pressure and to direct red blood cell production.
So, just what can be done to support the health of kidneys? For starters, a healthy diet can help, so be sure to include kidney-friendly foods such as the following:
Red bell peppers: Packed with vitamins A, C, B6, folic acid, fiber and the antioxidant lycopene, red bell peppers are delicious and beneficial to the kidneys.
Cabbage: Cabbage is filled with phytochemicals, busts apart damaging free radicals and is also high in vitamin K, vitamin C and fiber. It’s also a good source of folic acid and vitamin B.
Cauliflower: Containing compounds that help your liver neutralize toxins, cauliflower is also a kidney-friendly food. It’s filled with vitamin C, folate and fiber.
Onions and Garlic: Onions contain quercetin, an anti-inflammatory antioxidant, as well as chromium, a mineral which helps in the metabolism of fats, proteins and carbs. Garlic also helps reduce inflammation and to support healthy cholesterol levels, while providing potent antioxidant and anti-clotting properties.
Apples: Also packed with quercetin, apples are high in fiber and anti-inflammatory properties.
Berries and Cherries: Include generous amounts of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries and cherries in your kidney-healthy diet. They are filled with free radical-busting antioxidants and other nutrients your kidneys will love.
Red Grapes: The flavonoids in red grapes can help support healthy inflammation levels, fight free radicals and reduce the chance of unwanted blood clots. The resveratrol in grapes can help boost the production of nitric oxide, which increases muscle relaxation in blood vessels, supporting healthy blood flow.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (uncooked): Olive oil contains oleic acid, an anti-inflammatory fatty acid which protects against oxidation and unwanted excessive inflammation. Heating olive oil past a certain temperature alters its makeup, so use olive oil as a salad dressing, as a dip or in other “unheated” ways.
Go ahead. Show your kidneys some extra kindness this month with these yummy foods!