Now, you may think its obvious that we should all be protective over every part of our precious bodies, but unfortunately, I often am not. In the past, I have washed my colon out with colon irrigation, wrung out my liver and gallbladder of stones with vile tasting detox programs, and I have pushed my poor little lungs so hard that I would cough up mucous. But when it comes to my kidneys, I have been wise enough to be gentle – because I know it is the organ which will cause me to show signs of aging if I do not. Yes, the kidneys regulate water metabolism in our bodies – and dysfunctional kidneys will disrupt the dispersion of water causing dehydrated skin, fine lines, under eye bags and circles as well as edema.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the kidneys are such important organs as they govern every essence and fluid in our bodies. This not only relates to the water-levels in our skin and other organs, but also influences our reproductive systems and its fluids. My TCM doctor has often commented on the increase of infertility and menstrual irregularities and how they are related to the stress we often put on our kidneys in the modern age.
But it is very difficult not to stress our kidneys out because the kidneys are taxed by stress itself. My mother calls our family “a family full of kidney people” because we over-think and make a hobby of being high-strung. Unfortunately this has also translated into bouts of nausea which follow the feeling of unquenchable dehydration. Our digestive systems also become very sensitive when our kidneys are especially depleted.
But it isn’t just emotional stress which will deplete our kidney energy, physical stress as well.
The following are kidney-abusers:
Excess protein consumption (especially animal protein)
Being an avid traveller (especially engaging in habitual dehydrating air travel)
Over-exercising (cardio: especially running)
Inconsistent eating habits
Taking too many supplements in pill form
Low body temperature and exposure to cold
Excess sodium consumption
So what are we to do? While I feel like I am already so regimented with my habits, my eye bags beg a differ.
Recommendations for kidney support:
Keep warm: Our kidneys need warmth. While I never thought I wore skimpy clothes, my grandfather doesn’t understand how I protect my kidneys running around in yoga pants and a T shirt. To truly keep up our immunity and collect our energy, we are to bundle up and layer up- especially in the kidney area (which is on our backside right under our rib cage. Actually, Ayurvedic Doctors will often knock that area to see if there is pain to scout out a weak kidney.)… So burn all of your crop tops from 1993… Its probably a good idea to do for more reasons than for your kidneys.
Another way to keep warm is by oiling our bodies with sesame oil. Oil infused with warming herbs and spices are even better.
Maintain perfect hydration: We must try to not drink too much or too little. 10 glasses of water is said to be ideal, but of course this is dependant on your body’s size. If you already eat a low-sodium diet, it can actually be beneficial to add a pinch of salt as it will help water stay and be retained in the body.
Limit supplements: I used to think that more was better. But while my days of taking supplements by the handful are over, I will still take some cherry-picked vitamins and minerals in liquid form. This is much easier for us to process and absorb.
Sleep deeply: Sleep quality is so important to nurture our kidneys. Interrupted sleep, or the inability to get REM sleep will not allow our organs to regenerate properly. This is one of the leading factors of kidney dysfunction.
Avoid animal protein: Too much dense protein will overwork our kidneys. A vegetarian diet is much more beneficial for those of us with kidney issues.
Eating ample kidney cleansing foods: Eating as many hydrating fruits and veggies will cleanse both the kidneys and the blood. But spinach, dandelion, ginger (warming – and also good for Vata pacifying), asparagus, blueberries, cranberries, string beans and parsley are especially good for detoxifying the kidneys. When I first discovered I was getting permanent bags under my eyes I began to juice raw parsley. While its sounds unappetizing, it was actually a refreshing addition to fresh squeeze apple or carrot juices.