SILA Engage interviewed Mr. Luke Coutinho, noted Holistic Lifestyle Coach - Integrative Medicine, on overall kidney health on World Kidney Day 2020. We delved deep into diet, fitness and measures to take to ensure that we maintain healthy kidneys.
Digestion isn't complete without assimilation, absorption, and elimination. Kidneys play a crucial role in the process of elimination, by helping to filter out toxins from the body. It also plays a crucial role in maintaining blood pressure, and the right amount of blood pressure has an impact on the quality of blood circulation to every organ of our body, including digestive organs.
Kidney helps balance electrolytes in our body like sodium, potassium, chloride and bicarbonate ions that help maintain acid-base balance and water balance and maintain nerve and muscle function that in turn can affect the health of our digestive system.
Kidney diseases also affect gastric motility, pancreas, and gall bladder.
Kidney diseases don't just affect the kidneys, but every organ in the body. Kidney's main role is to filter out metabolic wastes and toxins from the blood and if it isn't able to do that, then our body will hold onto toxins. Managing weight is easier when our bodies are free to toxins and thus a compromised kidney function can affect weight loss too.
Kidneys also play a crucial role in activating the absorption of vitamin D in the body, and adequate levels of Vitamin D impact the overall hormonal health which is directly linked to our weight.
And this can work vice versa too meaning excess weight can affect kidney health as well. As obesity can lead to several metabolic conditions, carrying extra weight is a threat to our blood pressure, sugar levels and all of it can have an impact on kidney function. Excess weight exerts pressure on the kidneys to work harder and filter wastes above the normal level.
Chronic kidney disease can be difficult to spot at an early stage. Most people find out they have it after a blood or urine test. Kidney conditions are silent, which means they start showing certain alarming signs only when its reached last stage, which is why it is very critical to be mindful of the biofeedback's our bodies gives, especially if you are living an unhealthy lifestyle or have been taking too many medicines and pills or have an underlying condition like diabetes or high blood pressure.
Certain warning signs could be –
Skin pigmentation and dark circles, especially if you have unexpectedly developed dark circles, or are unable to get rid of them or if they are getting darker day to day, then you need to check the health of your kidneys. People with chronic kidney and renal diseases most often have dark circles. So dark circles are an imperative symptom you need to watch out for the likelihood of kidney disease. The only thing you need to do to keep your kidneys in a good state of health is to detoxify them. Drinking lots of water is one of the best ways to detox the kidneys which are working all day long.
Swelling, Bloating and water retention in other body parts like arms, waking up with a puffy face
Persistent UTI's and kidney stone formation.
High creatinine levels – as they are dangerous and must be looked at immediately as this can lead to chronic kidney disease, dialysis, and failure
Changes in how frequently you pass urine and how the urine appears (foamy, discolored, brown)
Chronic fatigue and tiredness
Kidneys are one of the five eliminatory organs in our body, which means its capable of detoxing itself naturally unless we live a faulty lifestyle wherein, we need to take certain measures to aid its function.
Maintaining an adequate amount of water intake is primary because this is the first step to flush out toxins from kidneys (unless you are on water restrictions). Kidney problems stem from dehydration. Your kidneys need lots of water to function properly. Not drinking enough water can slow down kidney function and the speed at which toxins are eliminated. Over time, toxins start accumulating in the body. (this is when one is not on any water restriction)
Natural diuretics like coriander seed tea, barley water, parsley, dandelion tea also help in flushing out toxins.
Alcohol, excess tea and coffee are a burden for our kidneys, so it is necessary to moderate its consumption
Nutmeg is a common spice that can be advantageous for complete body detox. It helps to eliminate toxins from the liver and kidneys.
• Luke's Kidney Detox Juice -
Lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
1 pod raw garlic
1-inch piece ginger
2 stalks celery
Blend with water, 1/2 tsp cold-pressed coconut oil and dash of black pepper.
(Please consume under medical supervision, especially if you are on any medications.)
Any drugs come with its own set of side effects and unfortunately, the kidney is one of the organs that need to bear the brunt. While medications might be necessary for certain conditions and should not be avoided without a doctor's consent, the least we could do is to take extra care of kidneys while consuming these medicines. Nevertheless, irresponsibly popping in painkillers, antibiotics – without addressing the root cause should be avoided. Too many people also pop in weight loss pills (water pills) and fail to change their lifestyle and rectify habits, which can be a detriment to the health of our kidneys.
Diabetic medicines, blood pressure medicines, and strong doses are given during chemotherapy, all of them can impact kidney, and while we need these medications, we should make every attempt to also help support our kidneys and making shifts in lifestyle so we possibly safely wean off them.
Additionally, if one has undergone an angiogram, detoxing their kidney is imperative. The angiogram is severely toxic to the kidney and anyone who has gone through or will go through this procedure should ask their doctor on precautions to take care or clean the kidney post-procedure.
The kidney is an extremely important organ of the body and must be treated right at all times. There are so many people doing crazy fad diets like high protein diets, high-fat diets, fad exercise programs and popping supplements in the chase of external looks and fine bodies. All that doesn't matter when our kidneys and organ health get affected. There should be a balance. Great bodies can also be achieved in a healthy manner.
Diets like Keto (ketogenic diet) are medical diets, meaning they must be carefully calculated, gram to gram and designed based on an individual's lifestyle. So many people go on keto and download these diets from the internet having no idea about the level of harm they might be doing to their body. People who are on keto need to do it in an extremely supervised way with constant checks on their kidney parameters and adopt measures that help support kidney function.
Fasting unfortunately made into a fad can also be harmful if you are not doing it in an informed way, especially dry fasting because it calls for zero intakes of water during the fasting period. So please do not start fasting without knowing how it works and the science behind it, and if you do have a kidney condition, please refrain or get your healthcare expert in the loop.
Firstly, take medications and follow the medical protocol, but if you want to heal, use medication as a crutch but address the root cause of your condition and make every single lifestyle change possible to repair and heal your organs. Today the most common thing is to offer an option for an organ transplant, but that is again of no use if the root cause i.e. lifestyle is not corrected.
If you have underlying diabetes or high blood pressure, make every effort to manage that, because having these conditions is only going to impact your kidneys negatively.
It can be hard to suggest any generic guidelines because every kidney case is so different, and the levels of sodium, potassium, creatinine, urea, water intake may also vary individual to individual and their response to changes in diet may also differ, but it’s important to get the help of a well-trained clinical dietitian, lifestyle experts and doctors who work integratively with medicine as well as encourage patients to make parallel lifestyle changes.