Foods and Herbs for Healthy Kidneys

by Julie Christensen

    Most of us rarely think of our kidneys, but our kidneys are working all the time, cleansing our bodies of waste and toxins. When they function effectively, we feel healthy and energetic. Inefficient kidney function results in swelling, sluggishness and discomfort, or even kidney disease, requiring intensive treatment. Keep your children's kidneys healthy through a strategy of eating the right foods and daily exercise.

    Although certain predisposing factors for kidney disease, such as age or ethnicity, can't be controlled, many other factors can. Uncontrolled ailments put added stress on kidneys, potentially causing kidney disease. All of these problems can be controlled or eliminated through a healthy diet that is high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables and low in unhealthy fats, salt and sugar.

    Start by increasing the number of fruits and vegetables your children eat every day. Raspberries, blueberries, peppers, cabbage, onions, red grapes and cherries all contain antioxidants that may reduce the risk of kidney disease, as well as certain cancers. Reduce your child's consumption of red meat, processed foods and soda. Even seemingly benign foods, such as muffin mixes, cold cereals and ketchup, contain large amounts of sodium and sugar, which taxes kidneys. Read labels and use whole foods whenever possible.

    Always consult a doctor or certified herbalist before using herbal therapies with children. Mild astringent herbs such as dandelion leaf, chickweed or nettle may help kidneys process waste more efficiently. Add fresh berries to herbal iced tea sweetened with organic honey to promote overall health and good kidney function. Consult a physician, though, if your child has kidney disease, since herbs may interact with medications or put extra stress on kidneys.

    Stock the house with frozen fruits and vegetables, as well as low-sodium, whole-grain snacks. Encourage your children to drink several glasses of water each day to improve kidney function. Some children balk at drinking plain water so offer cold water in water bottles, instead of juice boxes at outings, and dilute juice to slowly train children to accept the taste of plain water.

    About the Author

    Julie Christensen's first experience with food was in a friend's family restaurant as a child. She worked as a cook in a small diner through college and has dabbled in catering for more than 20 years. She's the creator of MarmaladeMom.org, dedicated to family fun and delicious food, and released a book titled "More Than Pot Roast: 200 Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes."

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