When my son was in the NICU, just a mere 24 hours after he was born, I heard the doctors tell me he had “acute hydronephrosis and kidney failure.” I had no idea what hydronephrosis meant, but I could assume kidney failure was tragic. How could my little man already be diagnosed with this? He wasn’t even 24 hours old and the doctors were giving me that look of “I’m sorry, there might not be much we can do.”
Over the next nine months and two surgeries, his kidneys stabilized to an acceptable level of function. Not perfect function, but one on which he could live and possibly never need a kidney transplant.
Multiple doctors informed me that once someone suffers kidney damage, there is nothing that can be done to repair the kidneys. The liver can regenerate, but not the kidneys. His scarring in his kidneys left 90 percent function in one kidney and only 19 percent in the other.
What my son suffered from is genetic. It’s called Bi-Lateral Reflux, and to sum it up in a nutshell, the doctors had to re-wire his bladder so he could urinate. It is something that I too suffered from and had to have surgery for when I was a baby, but back then no one talked about kidney damage, let alone kidney health.
Thanks to massive media coverage, we know about heart health, liver health and a slough of over preventative measures we can do to protect against diseases like Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, but unless you suffer from Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), kidney health and preventative measures are not as prevalent in mainstream media.
So why should we start the discussion now?
Because kidneys filter our blood. Because most people don’t know they have CKD until it’s too late and irreversible. Because kidneys produce hormones that help regulate blood pressure, initiate Vitamin D, and produce red blood cells…pretty important stuff, huh!?
When the doctors spoke to me about keeping my son’s kidneys healthy, they had one rule…
Keep his blood pressure down by watching the salt in his diet.
I thought that sounded pretty easy and straightforward, until I started looking at labels. I was already pretty good about buying organic produce and milk, but still bought stuff that I now consider on my “do not buy” list.
I have read countless articles shining light on fake ingredients, hidden salt content, and other chemicals that are harmful to our bodies.
Did you know that in some pharmaceutical drugs there are so many preservatives that we could consume a day’s worth of salt in just ONE dose of medicine?
With CKD affecting more than 20 million people, it should be a priority for all of us to take care of our kidneys.
The following ideas are just a few avenues we’ve adopted in our family to not only take care of our overall health, but specifically kidney health:
Nettle tea – It helps to detoxify the kidneys, break down kidney stones, supports endocrine health and reduces inflammation in the body. Buy dried nettles here to brew your own tea.
Dandelion greens – Help with inflammation, detoxes the liver, and they’re high in antioxidants. Unsure how to incorporate them? See below for one of my favorite smoothie recipes that even my little ones enjoy. Buy dried dandelion greens here.
Essential oils – Juniper Berry helps with organ stimulation and overall kidney function. There are also a range of essential oils on the market that can help with overall health and replace a lot of medications, preventing us from ingesting too much sodium! Purchase organic, wildcrafted, sustainably sourced, high quality essential oils here.
Read labels – Know the hidden causes of sodium like sulfites, nitrites, nitrates, sodium bicarbonate, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and many more. Just because something says reduced or low sodium, it doesn’t mean that you’re making the better choice. See how much sodium you’re consuming. The U.S. standard for salt intake is one teaspoon per day.
Buy organic – Don’t make your body work harder than it has to. Pesticides and toxins are so rampant in our daily lives. By buying organic, you are helping to eliminate the toxins from your body and the air we breathe.
Dandelion Green Smoothie: (even my kids like this one!)
- 16 oz filtered water
- 2 C loosely packed organic dandelion greens, remove the leaves from the stem (purchase organic dried dandelion greens here)
- 1 C organic spinach (loosely packed)
- 1 organic banana
- 1 organic orange
- 1 handful of frozen organic strawberries
Makes about 2-4 servings.
Written by Heather Moulden of The Real Mama.