Do kidney cleanse diets and supplements really work?
We are all different, so as you can imagine, the answer somewhat lies in your individuality.
The cleansing that a kidney performs also depends on what you feed your body.
Kidney cleansing involves many other factors, including what you are exposed to on a daily basis.
In practical terms, this means that you should always strive to eat healthy to minimize the burden on your kidneys and to support optimal kidney function.
This post is to help you nourish normal kidney function. It is not meant to treat advanced kidney disease.
Rather, let’s talk about reducing risk of the diseases that can cause kidney dysfunction in the first place.
Here, you will find easy food swaps in your diet that can make a lot of difference in your kidney cleanse processes. For a free PDF of this post, click here.
The kidney is second only to the liver for the amount of cleaning up that it does inside of our bodies. Regardless, no organ can fully clean the body on its own.
We need healthy skin, digestive tract, blood, kidneys, liver, lungs, and immunity to perform the job of ridding the body of toxins.
Many people don’t realize that kidney diseases are on the rise at exceedingly high rates. This is primarily due to increases in Type 2 Diabetes and hypertension.
And these diseases are on the rise because of highly processed diets [R].
A healthy kidney not only helps filter out toxins, it has many other functions. According to the National Kidney Foundation, these functions include:
- Activating vitamin D into calcitriol hormone
- Balancing fluids
- Making hormones
- Erythropoietin for making red blood cells
- Adrenal hormones for managing blood pressure, mood
- Renin for managing blood pressure
- Regulates your pH
- Filters around 200 quarts of blood per day.
- Makes urine to excrete waste
Kidney damage can occur from long-term high blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases, urinary tract infections, congenital disorders, and inflammation or injury.
In addition, some medications, surgical procedures, and medical procedures can put the kidneys at risk of damage. They can overwhelm the kidney with toxins too.
Kidney stones can also create problems all along the urinary tract.
Kidney infections are another serious condition that need immediate medical treatment.
As you can see, the kidney is susceptible to many health problems.
Luckily for us, we can function on only one kidney our whole lives. It isn’t until our kidneys are moderately to severely damaged that we tend to feel bad.
This is why it is so important that you get screened for kidney issues throughout your life. Make sure to ask your doctor to check blood work and urine tests to assure that your kidneys are staying healthy.
It is also really important to eat well so that we prevent most of the damage that toxins cause in the kidneys.
15 Diet Swaps to Support Kidney Cleansing
You can do a lot to help keep your kidneys healthy.
Much of these things you can do to help your kidneys be well are the foods you choose to eat today and every day.
That is why I put together 15 simple diet swaps that can make you feel better and keep your kidney cleanse processes at their optimal levels.
1. Eat a fresh apple
instead of donut or sweet pastry
2. Grab a fresh salad with apple cider vinegar dressing
instead of bread sticks or fries
3. Refresh with iced ginger tea and spring water
instead of soda, diet sodas, or pop
4. Indulge in a 100% cherry juice drink
instead of cocktails or processed juices
5. Have a serving of mushrooms on your burger
instead of a side of french fries
6. Squeeze some lemon juice into your morning water (use a straw)
instead of a plain water
7. Mix in some turmeric into a smoothie or vegetable juice
instead of reaching for an ibuprofen
8. Chop up a bunch of parsley to add to your next marinara sauce
instead of that garlic bread
9. Stir up ¼ tsp cordyceps mushrooms into your coffee
instead of sugar
10. Add an herbal tincture like Renaltrex
instead of just waiting for your next kidney stone to arrive
11. Season your foods with garlic, onions, and spices
instead of shaking on more salt
12. Snack on pumpkin seeds
instead of chips or crackers
13. Grab some beet juice
instead of a vanilla latte
14. Serve up some watermelon
instead of cookies as a party treat
15. Open a can of lower sodium sardines
instead of salty soup for lunch
Apples are rich in antioxidants like quercetin-you need to leave the skin on though!
When you eat an apple instead of a donut or sweet pastry, you are nourishing the body. In contrast, the donut only gives you inflammation and “sticky” blood in the long run.
Quercetin from apples may help prevent urinary tract infections when combined with other antioxidants like curcumin from turmeric [R]. The pectin from apples may also help aid the body in eliminating toxins like cadmium and lead [R].
Tip: As part of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, apples support kidney health overall.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has long been a home remedy for many ailments and for supporting kidney function.
Now, clinical research is proving these benefits for the kidney. For example:
In a group of 122 people, drinking 5 ml (1 teaspoon) of apple cider vinegar 3 times a day had less calcium oxalate crystal formation in the kidneys than those who didn’t get the vinegar [R].
They also had increased citrate levels in their urine and reduced urinary calcium levels. Both of these effects can reduce the risk of kidney stones.
This was the first study to also prove that apple cider vinegar was able to modify genes that are involved in making kidney stones, also known as epigenetics.
Tip: You should eat a salad with apple cider vinegar instead of grabbing breadsticks or fries when dining out. While tasty, these foods only serve to increase risk of kidney issues over time.
Add some apple cider vinegar to a cup of water with lemon too. This is an easy morning kidney detox recipe!
Don’t like the taste of vinegar? You can try apple cider vinegar capsules with the mother:
3. Hydration and Ginger
Staying well-hydrated helps kidney function to be at its optimal levels. Water in adequate amounts helps to reduce kidney stone risk and urinary tract infections as well as rid the body of toxins. The amount of fluid may be 6-8 cups per day for the average person.
When you hydrate in the form of ginger tea, you get natural antioxidants that also help support a healthy kidney. These antioxidants may help protect the kidney tissues from oxidative stress [R].
In patients with pre-existing kidney disease on peritoneal dialysis, ginger at 1000 mg per day helped to decrease harmful blood triglycerides after 10 weeks [R]. The ginger was safe and well-tolerated.
This study shows that ginger is not only safe, but beneficial for kidney patients.
Bonus: If you swap out ginger tea for soda or diet soda, you are also reducing your kidney stone risk.
4. Cherries and Cranberries
Contrary to popular belief, cherry juice may be a better choice for kidney health overall than cranberry juice.
This is because cherry juice is able to reduce uric acid levels in the urine [R].
In contrast, cranberry juice acidifies the urine. This can be good to prevent urinary tract infections, though!
This means that cranberry may be helpful in preventing some urinary tract infections and more rare kinds of kidney stones.
Cranberry juice, in theory, may be harmful in more common types of kidney stones like calcium oxalate stones and uric acid stones. This is because the stones thrive in acid.
Tip: Enjoy both 100% cranberry juice and cherry juice, preferably organic. If you have calcium oxalate stones or uric acid stones, choose cherry juice over cranberry juice.
Assorted Kidney Friendly Foods
Mushrooms, particularly medicinal mushrooms, are an excellent way to get more antioxidants and nutrition in your diet that supports a healthy kidney.
They also are one of the very few foods on the planet that contain vitamin D if they are exposed to light when grown.
People with kidney disease are notoriously low in vitamin D, and proper treatment of vitamin D deficiency with multiple blood measurements of vitamin D levels is SUPER important for your health.
Vitamin D may even help delay progression of chronic kidney disease [R].
Perk: vitamin D and mushrooms may also reduce chronic pain. You may need to supplement vitamin D3 to get optimal levels.
Not only are lemons bright and refreshing, they may help reduce the risk of kidney stones.
In fact, use of ¼ cup of lemon juice lemon juice daily was just as effective as potassium citrate to help increase citrate levels in the urine [R]. This is known to help reduce kidney stones.
Tip: an easy way to have lemon juice is to squeeze it into your water in the morning. You can also add it to most any meal to freshen up the taste of any dish.
One spice that may help your body in so many ways is turmeric.
Turmeric reduces inflammation and may even help reduce the wasting of protein in the urine in people with chronic kidney disease caused by diabetes [R].
A little goes a long way: add ¼ tsp with a little sprinkle of black pepper to your smoothies in the morning or take in a capsule with black pepper or curcumin with bioperine variety for better absorption.
Perk: your pain levels may decrease too because it dampens down inflammation in the body.
In early studies, parsley supports kidney function by reducing urinary calcium and protein excretion through the kidneys.
- Parsley also decreases serum urea and uric acid concentrations, while increasing magnesium levels [R].
- Many people also find that parsley helps reduce excess fluids and bloating in their bodies.
Tip: Add parsley to almost any dish or smoothie to give it extra nutrients and to support healthy fluid balance.
9. Cordyceps mushrooms
I recently reviewed the fantastic benefits of mushrooms. Cordyceps is a type of mushroom that shines for kidney health.
Bonus: Cordyceps may improve energy in the body by increasing ATP [R].
Tip: Are you a stranger to using cordyceps powder? Simply mix a teaspoon into your burger meat, sauces, ¼ tsp in coffee, and more. You won’t even know it’s there because the taste is so mild.
10. Herbal Tinctures and Supplements
Many medicinal herbs can help a normal kidney to cleanse properly. Of these, one of my favorites is chanca piedra (Phyllanthus niruri). This safe and gentle herb can help reduce the chances of kidney stones and even may help to eliminate stones [R].
Another example of an herbal blend that can help with kidney cleansing is called Renaltrex.
Renaltrex is a tincture from the Global Healing Center. It contains cranberry, uva ursi (bearberry, arctostaphylos), hydrangea, goldenrod (solidago), horsetail (equisetum arvense), juniper, and marshmallow (mallow root).
In reviews, many people find that this tincture reduces kidney stones and helps reduce swelling and bloating.
Some people even noted improved kidney function. It is important to note that these reviews are anecdotal and not yet clinically proven.
Still, this blend of herbs appears gentle and safe and people are pleased by its results. Tinctures are usually better absorbed by the body than capsules or tablet forms of herbs.
11. Spices and Herbs
When you reach for the salt shaker, try grabbing some spices and herbs instead. Many of these natural flavorings help the body reduce blood glucose as well as blood pressure. Some of my favorites include:
- Ceylon cinnamon
- Cumin or black cumin
- Mustard seeds
Too much salt over time can make you retain water and it can, in some people, also raise blood pressure.
Why not try some creative ways to use spices instead?
- Throw in some coriander and oregano into your Mexican dishes as well as some nutmeg and cinnamon into curries.
- Sprinkle in some thyme, oregano and basil into Italian dishes, and some mustard seeds and dill into your tuna salad or sardines.
Tip: Gradually add more spices and herbs to help your taste buds adapt.
12. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds are more than a passing food trend.
They are delicious and may help many aspects of health that support healthy kidneys.
People with advanced kidney failure on dialysis were given a mixture of pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, a total of 30 grams or about a tablespoon a day.
- Patients had improvements in many health markers, including lowered triglyceride and blood glucose levels.
- They also enjoyed less inflammation as shown by a reduction in inflammation markers like CRP, TNF-alpha, and IL-6 levels.
- Patients also had less itching too, which is a common symptom in kidney disease [R].
Translation: A spoonful of pumpkin seeds and other seeds pack a ton of benefit and can easily swap out for processed chips in your diet.
13. Beet Juice
By helping to lower blood pressure and also by stimulating oxygen supply to tissues, beets and beet juice are a great vegetable for anyone to enjoy. They are also relatively low in carbohydrate despite their sweet taste.
In a pilot study of people with chronic kidney disease, highly concentrated beet juice helped to reduce the renal resistive index, which is a marker of poor heart health in people with kidney issues [R].
Tip: Try mixing beet juice with carrot or celery juice for a great antioxidant cleanse recipe.
Don’t love lemon? Watermelon or other melons are also a great source of citrate in the diet. Citrate in the diet reduces the risk of kidney stones [R].
Tip: Enjoy summer watermelon, but keep in mind, it’s easy to overeat this delicious food if you have diabetes. A cup or two is a great way to hydrate while getting a good dose of citrate in your diet.
15. Sardines (Pilchard)
Sardines are a type of fish related to herring. Known to be one of the lowest risk for mercury, sardines are the safest among fish to eat.
Eating sardines is one of the healthiest ways to boost omega-3 fats in your diet. They are also on Kidney.org list of kidney-friendly superfoods.
Omega 3 fats, including fish oils, reduce the risk of end stage kidney disease and is also related to slowing the progression of kidney disease as well [R].
Tip: Some brands taste a lot better than others. Here are a couple of brands that are tasty and not overly mushy like some brands.
More Kidney Cleanse Options
Other herbal products and foods worth mentioning are nettles, marshmallow root, and dandelion root.
- Dandelion root tea may have a diuretic effect because it is high in potassium. Patients with certain kidney disorders may need to restrict potassium and therefore, should avoid dandelion tea [R].
- Marshmallow root, also known as Khatmi (Althaea officinalis) is generally recognized as safe and may help reduce inflammation and have a diuretic effect [R].
- Nettles are a very safe type of herb used for many health purposes and in some cultures are eaten as salad [R]. Stinging nettles don’t have the sting when they are dried or cooked.
- Nettles herb has diuretic effects too, which is helpful for excess fluid retention and are rich in minerals and nutrients that are good for the kidneys and heart. Rich in antioxidants, nettles may also protect the prostate from hyperplasia (BPH) and serve to help prevent urinary tract infectiions. [R].
All the foods and herbs listed above are gentle and safe for healthy individuals. Make sure to check with your doctor before starting on any new health routine. If you are allergic, make sure to avoid any of these foods.
Be aware that while healthy, some of the foods can interact with common medications like blood thinners.
Your diet can be supportive of healthy kidney function, so make some simple swap outs that keep your body running strong.
Not only do these foods help with kidney cleanse functions, they may help reduce blood pressure and often help reduce chance of diabetes.
The information on this website is for informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat illness. Please consult with your doctor before starting any new health product or routine.