Did you know your kidneys are only 5 ounces each, but filter an amazing 47 gallons of blood each day? Kidneys are a water-run waste removal system, so the water you drink is necessary to help them flush waste material out. Urine is 95% water to 5% dissolved substances like minerals, urea, uric acid, ammonia, chlorides, bacteria, chemical residue and sometimes parasites. This filtration system is so fine that it spends three days eliminating all the chemicals and acids found in one cup of coffee!
The warmth and activity of summertime, makes it easy to drink more water. Just drinking two quarts of filtered water a day can reduce your risk of developing kidney stones (literally, backed-up sediment) by about 50%. Lucky for us, the most watery fruits and vegetables are available in the summer and act as natural kidney cleansers: summer squashes, jicama, lettuce, cucumbers, celery, radishes, melons, berries, cherries, nectarines and peaches. Many of these watery fruits and vegetables also thin the blood (making it easier to filter), flush fats and increase fluids in the body.
The Skin as “Third Kidney”
Warm weather helps our skin breathe and perspire, which releases toxins. As our largest organ, skin can also be called the ‘third kidney’ because it reduces the work of the kidneys by eliminating excess acids and waste products. Your skin is the first step to manufacturing vitamin D, which is essential to bone and connective tissue formation and immune health. The cholesterol of the skin captures sunlight to produce D1, this is shuttled to the liver where it’s metabolized into D2 and then taken to the kidneys where it’s turned into D3, the active form of vitamin D. Kidney health is vital for the completion of this process. Otherwise, only certain foods such as grass fed meat, cold-water fish, grass-fed dairy and eggs, algae and wild mushrooms provide vitamin D.
Regulation of Blood Pressure
Kidneys regulate blood pressure by maintaining the correct fluid balance. A deficiency of internal fluids stimulates the kidneys to release rennin, a hormone that constricts peripheral circulation, causing the skin pores to close, reducing water loss. Simultaneously, low fluid levels tell the kidneys to increase the hormone aldosterone, which causes the retention of sodium, thus water retention and increased fluid pressure. Reduced circulation to the skin, low fluid intake and high sodium levels, all attribute towards a tendency to high blood pressure.
Kidneys as the teller at your Bone Bank Account
Your genes, plus the nutrition you received during childhood has laid the foundation of your adult skeletal system. This becomes your bone bank account because it’s where minerals (potassium, phosphorous, calcium and magnesium) are stored. Your body needs minerals for repair, cell formation and to buffer fluctuating blood acid levels. Enzymes for repair only work in an alkaline environment. When blood becomes acidic, the kidneys are signaled to take a withdrawal of stored minerals from your bone bank account to alkalize the blood. If, say, calcium is withdrawn faster than replenished, your skeletal system can be ‘overdrawn’ which results in bone loss. Calcium can be replaced with calcium-rich herbs like red raspberry leaf and oat straw and foods like leafy greens, sea vegetables, celery, barley, sesame seed butter, almonds, fermented, low or non-fat dairy such as yogurt or kefir, vegetable juices and dense super food powders of grasses (wheat, barley, oat, alfalfa), algae and spirulina.
Common culprits that ‘make our blood go acid’ are sugar, a very high protein diet, processed foods (refined flours, fried foods, high salt foods, sodas,) alcohol, coffee, chocolate, chemical additives and preservatives (including pesticides in food), cigarettes and some plant foods that are naturally very acidic such as: rhubarb, oranges and tangerines. Other factors that attribute to the acidic state are stress (mental, emotional or physical) and cold/damp living conditions.
Give Your Kidneys a Summer Break
This summer, care for your kidneys by drinking plenty of filtered water, eating juicy fruits as a snack and taking an afternoon nap (kidneys replenish when you rest). Refresh yourself (and flush your kidneys) with a cucumber cooler:
Place one peeled and cut, medium organic cucumber in a blender with 1 quart of cold water. Add a handful of fresh mint leaves and 1-2 Tb of lime-juice. Blend on high-speed until smooth – you may have to add more water if it’s too thick. If you want it sweet, add agave syrup to taste.
Serve in glasses over ice with a slice of lime to garnish.