Kidneys have some mighty functions to their claim, and it’s not just clearing waste from your body. They play a role in red blood cell production, and blood pressure regulation. They also help in the maintenance of chemical balance and calcium in the body (1).
Your kidneys can stay healthy as long as you follow a balanced diet and drink enough water. But unhealthy food habits, low fluid intake, and exposure to toxins can make your kidneys stressed out (2). This is why you may need to flush your kidneys from time to time. Let’s see what a kidney flush is all about and whether it can actually work.
What Is A Kidney Flush?
A kidney flush, more popularly known as a cleanse, is a kind of detox diet designed to support kidney function. There are numerous variations of a kidney cleanse and they may differ with regards to the duration of the cleanse, how restrictive it is, and what foods to eat or avoid.
Proponents of kidney cleanse diets claim that they can help the kidneys get rid of accumulated toxins and other waste products and lower the risk of kidney diseases. However, at present, there is a lack of scientific evidence that validates any particular kidney cleanse process. Having said that, upping your fluid intake and adding the foods suggested in a kidney-flush diet to your regular meal plans may be beneficial for your general health and wellbeing.
It is important to keep in mind that a kidney cleanse is not for everyone. Especially, if you have existing kidney disease or other health concerns, you need to talk to your physician about any changes in your diet, eating patterns, or supplement use. If you don’t have any existing medical conditions, you may still want to figure out if you even need to flush your kidneys. The next section can help you gain that clarity.
Do You Really Need A Kidney Flush?
It depends on how your kidneys are. Being self-cleaning organs, a healthy pair of kidneys won’t require you to go through a restrictive diet. On the contrary, it may deprive your body of various essential nutrients. So, when do kidneys require flushing?
The kidneys’ primary function is to filter blood and sieve out excess water along with toxins and other wastes that are generated by the body as urine. When there is insufficient water intake, it may become difficult for the kidneys to clear out all of the waste. Chronic stress, environmental toxins, and a diet poor in fruits and vegetables can also deter the kidneys from functioning at their optimum capacity (2).
If you suspect that may be the case with your organs, you can tune into your body for signals. The following signs may indicate that your kidneys are stressed and can do with a detox (3):
- Itchy, dry skin
- Bad taste in the mouth
- Swollen ankles
- Brain fog
- Changes in urine frequency or color
- Leg pain
- Recurring kidney stones
- Frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
If you experience one or more of these, you may consider your options for a kidney flush. So, how do you do a kidney flush? Let’s see.
How To Flush Your Kidneys
As mentioned before, there is no evidence regarding any particular kidney cleanse diet. So, instead of a diet plan for any particular number of days, here you can find some of the best things you can do that may help to flush your kidneys and support their functioning.
1. Drink More Water
Every single organ requires water to function, and the kidneys are no exception. With filtration as the primary role, kidneys require water to make urine, which is what carries toxins and wastes out of the body. A low urine volume is linked with kidney dysfunction, including the formation of kidney stones (4). The standard recommended amount of water for daily intake is around 4L for males and 3.1L for females (5). If you have not been meeting this requirement, you can focus on achieving this standard during your kidney cleanse and make it part of your daily routine.
2. Eat Berries
Most berries are rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals and may have a protective effect on kidney cells by fighting off inflammation and oxidative stress (6). For a kidney cleanse, the two most talked about are blueberries and cranberries.
According to an animal study, blueberries can help regulate blood pressure and improve glucose tolerance. While human studies are warranted, you may benefit from including blueberries in your diet as kidney diseases are positively linked with both high blood sugar and high blood pressure (7). Blueberries are also low in potassium, sodium, and phosphorus, three minerals that tend to make things difficult for kidneys if you have them in large quantities (8), (9), (10), (11). Cranberries have been found to soothe the urinary tract and may prevent infections (12).
3. Have Red Grapes
Grapes contain flavonoids which are beneficial plant compounds. One of them known as resveratrol has been found to be effective in lowering kidney inflammation in an animal study (13), (14). Although human studies are warranted for more insight into how grapes can benefit kidney function, it is a great choice to satisfy your sweet tooth while getting a load of micronutrients.
4. Get Your Vitamin B6 Through Food Or Supplements
Vitamin B6 is an essential micronutrient that your body uses in various metabolic reactions, including the metabolism of glyoxylate. When B6 is deficient, instead of turning into glycine, glyoxylate turns into oxalate— a substance with an association with the formation of kidney stones (15). You can add a B-complex vitamin supplement that has more than or equal to 50 milligrams (but less than 100 milligrams) of B6. Alternatively, you can get it through food sources such as carrots, milk, ricotta cheese, avocado, bananas, salmon, and chicken (16).
5. Include Omega-3 Fatty Acids In Your Meals
Eat more omega-3 fatty acids to balance out excessive omega-6 fatty acids as high levels of omega-6 have been linked with the risk of kidney stones. Besides, omega-3s may also lower your risk of passing protein through urine, a condition known as proteinuria. The two most important omega 3-s are docosahexaenoic acid or DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA. You can take a high-quality fish oil supplement or include fatty fish like salmon, albacore tuna, anchovies, and mackerel. Flax seeds and oysters are other good sources of omega-3s (17), (18).
6. Eat Watermelons And Pomegranates
Watermelons contain plenty of water, fibers, and amazing nutrients that may protect your kidneys from damage. For instance, lycopene, a compound in watermelons, was shown to lower inflammation in rats with existing kidney damage. Watermelons may also help to balance the levels of phosphate, oxalate, citrate, and calcium in your body (19), (20).
Similarly, pomegranate, a potassium-rich fruit, can be a beneficial fruit to add to a kidney cleanse diet. Potassium may reduce the risk of kidney stones and help to flush out toxins and waste from the kidneys (17).
Both watermelon and pomegranate have high levels of potassium, and should not be overconsumed during a kidney cleanse. Potassium is among the minerals that the kidney finds difficult to clear if its functionality is impaired (9).
7. Eat Oranges And Lemons
Lemons and oranges contain citrate, or vitamin C, a nutrient that has been associated with kidney stone prevention. It plays that role by binding with excess calcium and preventing the formation of calcium crystals (17). Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant and may prevent tissue damage (21). There is some evidence to suggest that vitamin C may improve insulin sensitivity, cholesterol levels, and blood vessel health— all of which can benefit your kidney function (22), (23), (7). Additionally, lemon and oranges can help you increase your total fluid intake.
8. Juice Beetroots Or Add Them To Your Salad
Beets contain a compound called betaine which may help to increase the acidity of your urine, which can benefit your urinary tract. It may also prevent the buildup of calcium and struvite (a compound produced by bacteria in the body) and lower your risk of getting kidney stones (24), (25).
9. Drink Dandelion Tea
If you have to choose one herbal tea for kidneys, it should be dandelion tea. That’s because dandelion has been used in traditional medicine as a kidney tonic. A tea made with fresh dandelion root or dried dandelion may help you cleanse your kidneys. Additionally, it is known to stimulate bile production which can improve digestion and thus reduce the volume of waste that reaches the kidneys (26), (27).
10. Limit Your Intake Of Oxalic Acid, Sodium, And Added Sugar
Too much salt and sugar in the diet are linked with high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. Each of these conditions can put your kidneys in jeopardy (28). So, if you are doing a kidney cleanse, give table salt and processed sugar a break.
Oxalic acid is an organic acid that is toxic to humans in large quantities. Oxalic acid-rich foods like spinach, and dark chocolate can increase the amount of oxalate in the blood. Oxalate is linked with kidney stone formation, so you need to be careful about how much you are putting in your body (29).
11. Sleep Well
It may seem strange to find this on a kidney cleanse guide. However, it is essential to sleep well while you flush your kidneys as your sleep-wake cycle regulates the workload and functioning of your kidneys (30).
To put it all in a nutshell, your kidneys are hardworking and self-cleaning organs. They do well as long as they are not exposed to excessive environmental or dietary toxins. Fatigue, swollen ankles, and low urine volume are some signs of kidney stress. To detox or flush your kidneys, you need to be mindful of what you eat and how much water you drink. Cranberries, watermelon, lemon, and fatty fish are commonly recommended for kidney-flush diets.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does beer flush your kidneys?
No, beer may cause more frequent urination, but that is not the same as a kidney “flush”. On the contrary, beer or any other alcoholic beverage consumed in excess puts strain on the kidneys, can impair their functioning, and cause kidney damage.
How do doctors flush your kidneys?
Doctors may use diuretics to flush out the kidneys and remove toxin buildup.
Can kidneys repair themselves?
Kidneys are self-cleaning organs that may also be able to regenerate and repair themselves, depending on the extent of the damage.
- Kidney flush aims to detox the kidney through a diet that includes certain foods and increased fluid intake.
- However, kidneys usually clean themselves out, and not everyone needs to pursue this diet.
- Signs like nausea, fatigue, swollen ankles, itchy and dry skin, etc., indicate that the kidneys are stressed out.
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- Hypertension in Diabetic Nephropathy: Epidemiology Mechanisms and Management
- Blueberries raw
- Association of Serum Potassium with All-Cause Mortality in Patients with and without Heart Failure Chronic Kidney Disease and/or Diabetes
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