Kidney disease affects millions of people worldwide, and the National Institutes of Health estimate that over 660,000 Americans suffer from kidney failure.
Its primary causes include diabetes and high blood pressure, and kidney conditions trigger waste buildup in the body, which can lead to even more serious health issues.
The kidneys are located below the rib cage, and their shape resembles the one of beans. They are part of the urinary tract, along with the ureters, bladder, and urethra.
The main functions of the urinary tract are to regulate blood pH, blood pressure and volume, to remove blood waste products, and to balance electrolyte and metabolite levels.
The kidneys serve numerous bodily functions, and if functioning properly, they filter about a half-cup of blood every 60 seconds. The filtering blood supports the passage of urine and eliminates waste byproducts. Urine travels to the ureters, which are two narrow tubes on the sides of the bladder, and store urine until it is passed.
Moreover, the kidneys maintain bone strength, produce red blood cells and blood pressure-regulating hormones, balance electrolyte levels, and prevent waste and fluid accumulation in the body.
The kidneys contain about a million of filtering units, knows as nephrons, which contain two filtering components – the glomerulus and a tubule. The glomerulus actively filters the blood, while the tubule transports the needed elements to the blood while eliminating waste.
The glomerulus has very thin walls, and thus passes fluids, tiny molecules, and wastes to the tubule, which in turn transfers the remaining fluids and wastes to the ureters, to be excreted in the form of urine.
The most common kidney issues include:
- Kidney infection: An infection occurs due to the spreading of bacteria in the bladder or urethra spreads when they reach the kidneys.
- Kidney injury: This is a relatively sudden episode of kidney damage or kidney failure.
- Kidney cysts: They are small sacs of fluid that grow on the surface or inside of the kidneys.
- Kidney stones: They are formed when the urine is abnormally high in crystal-forming substances than can be diluted.
In 2013, a Turkish researcher Rumeyza Kazancioglu published an article in the journal Kidney International Supplements in which he identifies all known risk factors for developing chronic kidney disease (CKD):
- Age- he states that “renal function decreases with age” in both sexes
- Ethnicity- African-Americans acquire end-stage renal disease (ESRD) at a rate that is three to four times higher than Caucasians.
- Gender- Studies indicate that men are more prone to developing kidney problems than women.
- Family history- About 25 percent (1-in-4) of patients with ESRD have a family member with the same.
- Lifestyle- The risk of CKD is increased due to smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, analgesic medication, obesity, and heavy metal exposure.
- Medical co-conditions: A history of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, hepatitis C, HIV infection, and hyperlipidemia.
These are 25 potential hidden warning signs of kidney issues:
- Fatigue, due to the exhausted muscles and brain as a result of the shortage of red blood cells
- Abdominal swellings
- Blood in the urine
- Muscle cramps caused by imbalances of electrolytes and fluids, blood flow problems, or nerve damage
- Twitching of the muscles
- Dizziness, as the brain lacks oxygen due to the shortage of red blood cells.
- Pressure during urination
- Changes in urine, such as foamy urine, or strange coloration
- Muscle weakness, caused by the shortage of blood oxygen
- Brain fog
- Shortness of breath, due to anemia or extra fluid buildup in the lungs
- Metallic taste in the mouth, caused by uremia, or waste buildup in the blood
- Bad breath since the body does not eliminate waste well
- Nausea, caused by uremia
- Upset stomach
- Weight loss as kidney issues often cause poor appetite or vomiting
- Itchiness caused by fluid retention
- Swellings in the feet and hands due to excess fluids
- Swellings of the face and neck
- Feeling cold all the time, due to anemia
- Frequent urination, caused by damage to the nephrons
- Poor sleep
- Poor appetite
Here are some useful tips to help you keep your kidneys healthy and lower the risk of kidney troubles:
- Drink plenty of water
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid or limit the use of OTCs, such as ibuprofen and other NSAIDs
Additionally, you can drastically improve the function of the kidneys by making some dietary changes.
First of all, you should increase the intake of the following fruits and veggies:
Fruits – blueberries, cherries, apricots, peaches, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries plums, pineapple
Veggies: cilantro, parsley, spinach, kale, wheatgrass, cucumber, asparagus, celery
If you enjoy healthy smoothies, these are the best add-ins you can use:
- Rice milk (unenriched)
- Soy milk (unsweetened)
- Almond milk (unsweetened)
- Whey protein powder
- Egg white protein powder
- Pasteurized egg whites
- Liquid renal supplements
- Soft silken tofu
Also, we suggest trying the following kidney-friendly smoothies:
Very Berry Goodness
- ½ cup fresh or frozen strawberries
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled and sliced
- ½ cup fresh blueberries
- ½ c. unsweetened rice milk
- Stevia to taste (optional)
What a Peach
- 1 medium peach, pit removed, sliced or ½ cup frozen peaches
- ½ cup silken tofu
- 1 cup frozen raspberries
- 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ¼ cup cranberry juice cocktail
- ½ cup raspberries, frozen, unsweetened
- ½ cup blueberries, frozen, unsweetened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup silken tofu, firm
Easy No Milk Shake
- ½ cup berries, apple or banana or 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- ½ C Pasteurized Liquid Egg Product
- Flavor of choice – almond extract, lemon juice, vanilla extract
- ½ C Frozen Non-Dairy Whipped Topping
- 1 cup frozen cranberries
- a handful of parsley
- squeeze of lime
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled and sliced
- 1 stalk of celery
Add the ingredients in the blender, blend them well, and enjoy the fresh taste while improving your kidney health!