Kidney failure can be fatal. Your kidneys are one of the most important organs in your body. They are responsible for several important body functions, including:
1. Water regulation – The kidneys play a vital role in the production of urine. They react to the changes in the body’s water level by removing water when there’s an excess and retaining water when the body needs more.
2. Waste removal – Many substances in the blood must be kept in a normal level in order for the body to function properly. The kidney filters excess minerals, such as sodium and potassium, and passes them through urine. Wastes, like urea and creatinine, are also flushed out. Urea is produced when the body breaks down protein, while creatinine is a natural waste product produced when muscles breakdown.
3. Hormone production – The kidneys are also responsible for the production of certain chemical messengers that help regulate body function. The kidneys produce the hormones erythropoietin, which acts on the bone marrow to increase the production of red blood cells, and calcitriol, which signals for the uptake of calcium and phosphorus from the intestines. It also produces the enzyme renin, which helps regulate blood pressure.
There are several ways you can protect and preserve the function of your kidneys. Prime of these is the uptake of food that is optimum for the promotion of kidney health.
Antioxidants and Oxidative Stress
Antioxidants have long been touted as preventative of diseases. It helps neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals and oxidative stress in the body.
Oxidative stress and inflammation has been linked to sever chronic and degenerative diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and diabetes. Oxidation occurs as the body interacts with oxygen and cells produce energy. A natural consequence of this process is the production of free radicals.
Free radicals are electronically unstable and highly interactive. They interact with molecules in cells, stripping them of electrons in an effort to achieve stability. This causes a domino effect, causing more unstable molecules that can cause damage to cell components like proteins, membranes and genes.
Your body produces antioxidants in order to neutralize free radicals and counter the effects of oxidative stress. Your body, however, cannot produce enough antioxidants to neutralize all free radicals. You can help your body defend itself by eating foods rich in antioxidants.
Antioxidants and Kidney Health
Foods rich in antioxidants help prevent damage to your kidneys and other tissues, and may even halt the progression of kidney disease.
Oxidative stress, on the other hand, places people with chronic kidney disease at risk for chronic inflammation and heart disease. Fortunately, many antioxidant-rich foods are included in the renal diet and make good choices for dialysis patients and people with CKD.
Below is a list of antioxidant-rich foods that is particularly helpful in the promotion of kidney health.
Wild blueberries have the highest total antioxidant capacity of all fresh fruits with conventionally grown blueberries coming in second. The fruits contain a significant amount of antioxidants, most prominent of which are Anthocyanins, the compound which gives fruits and vegetables their rich blue, purple and red colors.
The antioxidant defenses of blueberries have long been associated with cardio vascular health. Research has shown that blueberries help in lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, prevents the oxidation of cholesterol and keeps them from forming plaque, fortifies arterial walls and helps in maintaining normal blood pressure.
Cranberries are rich in phytonutrients that have proven antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. They have also been used against urinary tract infection thanks to their proanthocyanidin content, which acts as a barrier and prevents bacteria from attaching onto the urinary tract.
Cranberry sauce and cranberry juice are the most common forms of cranberry products in the market, however, cranberries provide the most antioxidant benefits if consumed as a whole fruit.
3. Red bell peppers
Red bell peppers have the highest concentration of vitamin C amongst its green, yellow and orange cousins. Vitamin C is a potent water-soluble antioxidant. The body uses vitamin C in collagen synthesis, the primary structural protein used to maintain the integrity of our skin and blood vessels.
Red bell peppers are also good source of vitamin A, vitamin B6, folic acid and fiber.
It is low in potassium and fat.
Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable that is rich in vitamin C and manganese, two core conventional antioxidants, as well as an array of phytonutrients that all help combat oxidative stress.
Both its anti-inflammatory and cardio vascular health benefits are derived from its rich vitamin K, omega-3 fatty acids and glucoraphanin content. The latter is converted into sulforaphane, which triggers anti-inflammatory activity and could help reverse blood vessel damage.
Apples are known to be beneficial to cardiovascular health and this is attributed to two apple nutrients: its significant polyphenol and water-soluble fiber content. Apple polyphenols function as antioxidants and they have the amazing ability to limit the oxidation of fats. The oxidation of fats that line the blood vessels is a major risk factor for atherosclerosis and other heart problems.
Together with pectin, a type of water-soluble fiber found in apples, the cardiovascular benefits of apples increases by lowering blood cholesterol levels.
Although often likened to a lettuce, cabbages are actually members of the cruciferous family, which are known to be chock full of beneficial nutrients. Cabbage contains vitamin C, manganese and polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants. Red cabbage contains the polyphenol anthocyanin, a compound that gives red cabbage its rich hue. It has also been shown to suppress inflammation, a major risk factor for the development of heart disease.
Cabbage is also a good source of vitamin K, vitamin B6, folic acid, and fiber. It is low in potassium, so it makes a perfect addition to the renal diet.
Raspberries, like its berry cousins, are full of phytonutrients that provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Raspberries provide these in significant amounts that effectively protect us against the dangers of oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.
Most notable of these phytonutrients is ellagic acid, an inflammatory compound which has been shown to reduce unwanted and excessive inflammation by inhibiting the activity of pro-inflammatory enzymes.
Raspberries are also rich sources of vitamin C, another potent antioxidant that helps the body fight against infections. This is particularly helpful for dialysis patients that have immunocompromised immune system. A 100-gram serving of raspberries contains 26.2 mg or 47% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C.
Strawberries might be one of the most commonly eaten foods, but their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities are quite exceptional. Strawberries contain polyphenols, most notable of which are anthocyanin and quercatin. Anthocyanins give strawberries their rich red hue and have shown to help reduce the risk of heart attack. Quercatin is a natural anti-inflammatory and helps reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.
Strawberries are also an excellent source of the antioxidants vitamin C and manganese as well as fiber.
Cherries, particularly tart cherries, are an excellent source of fiber, vitamin C and phytonutrients that function as antioxidants. Most notable of these are anthocyanins that give cherries their dark red hue. Anthocyanins in cherries have been shown to protect brain cells and blood vessels from oxidative stress, thus reducing the risk for atherosclerosis and degenerative diseases like dementia. Cherries are also shown to have anti-inflammatory and pain inhibiting effects.
Although most people don’t know it, grapes are actually berries. Like its berry cousins, grapes provide a wealth of phytonutrients that reap antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Most notable of these are anthocyanins that are found in red and purple grape varieties.
Because of their strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support, grapes have long been established for their cardiovascular, anti-cancer and anti-aging and longevity benefits. Grapes can also help quench the thirst of dialysis patients that have liquid restrictions.
11. Olive oil
Olive oil is an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids, which have long been associated with cancer prevention, reduction of risk for heart disease and changes in the body’s immune and inflammatory response. Most notable of the monounsaturated fatty acids is oleic acid as it protects LDL (bad cholesterol) from oxidation. Oxidized LDL forms plaque, a main risk factor for atherosclerosis.
Olive oil is also rich in vitamin E, carotenoids and polyphenols, all of which function as antioxidants that help combat oxidative stress and provides anti-ageing benefits.
Unsurprisingly, the sulfur compounds that give garlic its strong flavor and aroma are also the source of many of its heart-protecting benefits. These are anchored in the sulfur capability to protect blood cells and blood vessels from unwanted inflammation and oxidative stress. These compounds have also been shown to have anticlotting properties and the ability to lower blood pressure levels.
Garlic’s numerous heart healthy benefits can also be attributed to its vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese and selenium content.
Onions contain the highest concentration of polyphenols amongst other allium vegetables. Its hallmark antioxidant, quercetin, provides anti-inflammatory benefits by preventing the oxidation of fatty acids in the body.
Onions are also high in vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that helps to inhibit cancer-forming free radicals. Vitamin C is also used in the synthesis of collagen, the primary building block used to maintain the integrity of our skin and blood vessels.
Eggs are complete protein foods and provide a wide array of nutrients beneficial for the brain, heart and immune system. Egg whites are a good source of riboflavin and selenium, which are important nutrients in the production of energy and elimination of toxins in the body.
Egg yolks are rich in vitamins A, E, B12, D, k, folate and pantothenic acid as well as the minerals calcium, iron, phosphorus, selenium and zinc. All of these help in your body’s metabolism and in the manufacture of red blood cells.
The yolk also contains the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. Together with vitamin E, these can help fend off free radical attacks and provide benefits for your eyes and skin.
The oleic and linoleic fatty acids found in the yolk provide antioxidant protection to blood vessels and keeps them from breaking under pressure. These also provide cardiovascular support by reducing dietary fat and the uptake of cholesterol in the intestines.
Fish is a good source of quality protein as well as anti-inflammatory fats called omega-3 fatty acids. Inflammation in the body can damage blood vessels and lead to heart disease.
Other cardiovascular benefits associated with omega-3 fats include lowering of triglyceride and blood pressure levels, reduce blood clotting and irregular heartbeats and reduce the risk for stroke and heart failure.