Every year, more than 100,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with kidney disease, a serious, life-threatening condition in which the kidneys can no longer filter waste products from the blood. (1) The National Kidney Foundation estimates that one in three American adults is currently at risk of developing kidney disease and those odds increase to one in two over the course of a lifetime.
The leading causes of poor kidney health are diabetes and high blood pressure, which in turn are caused by a poor diet and lifestyle. Therefore, the only real long-term solution to kidney disease is to drink more clean water, get more exercise and, most importantly, to reject processed and unhealthy foods in favor of natural whole foods. The foods listed below are proven to be particularly effective at boosting renal health.
Asparagus was regarded as the perfect healing food for our urinary system for centuries in its native Europe and Asia, and we now understand why. This green spring vegetable is packed with natural compounds, including glycosides and saponins, that give it significant diuretic, anti-rheumatic and blood purifying qualities. Consequently, the regular consumption of asparagus is known to increase urine production, soothe the urinary system, boost cellular action in the kidneys and even dissolve the acids and salts that comprise kidney stones.
Moreover, a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in June 2013 found that a compound present in asparagus, 2”-hydroxynicotianamine, could inhibit angiotensin-converting enzyme activity in the kidneys, thus “preventing hypertension and preserving renal function.”
Garlic has long been considered one of nature’s greatest disease fighters due to its impressive concentrations of the sulfur compound allicin. A proven antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungal and antioxidant, allicin is well-known for treating two of the main conditions that cause kidney disease, namely diabetes and high blood pressure. However, several studies have shown that this pungent and aromatic herb could be even better for our kidneys than previously thought.
One study published in Pharmacological Reports in 2008 discovered that garlic could significantly reduce kidney damage associated with mercury chloride exposure in laboratory animals (mercury chloride is a potential carcinogen used in disinfectants, batteries, insecticides and many other products to which humans are regularly exposed). (5) Another study, published in Food and Chemical Toxicology in 2001, found that garlic in low doses could enhance the antioxidant status of the kidneys, thus protecting them from the cell-damaging effects of free radicals.
There are three reasons why watermelons are good for treating kidney disease. Firstly, they are low in potassium and phosphorus, which are two minerals that dysfunctional kidneys can have problems balancing. Secondly, they are comprised of approximately 92 percent alkaline water, which helps flush the urinary system of accumulated toxins (watermelon fasts can even dissolve kidney stones). Lastly, they help the liver to process ammonia and deliver it to urea, thus easing the strain on the kidneys while ridding the body of excess fluids.
Unlike asparagus and garlic, watermelon is high in natural sugars. For this reason, people with diabetes-sourced kidney disease should be careful not to consume too much of it on a regular basis.