March is National Kidney Month

- March is national kidney month.  Pharmacist Doug has some advice on taking care of our kidneys during the month of March and beyond. 

Lets first look at what the kidneys do:

Waste excretion: There are many things your body doesn't want inside of it, and the kidneys help get rid of some of them. The kidneys filter out toxins, excess salts, and urea, a nitrogen-based waste created by cell metabolism.
Water level balancing: (Hydration) As the kidneys are key in the production of urine, they react to changes in the body's water level throughout the day. As water intake decreases, the kidneys adjust accordingly and leave water in the body instead of helping excrete it.
Blood pressure regulation: The kidneys need constant pressure to filter the blood. When it drops too low, the kidneys increase the pressure. One way is by producing a blood vessel-constricting protein (angiotensin) that also signals the body to retain sodium and water. Both the constriction and retention help restore normal blood pressure.
Red blood cell regulation: When the kidneys don't get enough oxygen, they send out a distress call in the form of erythropoietin, a hormone that stimulates the bone marrow to produce more oxygen-carrying red blood cells.
Acid regulation: As cells metabolize, they produce acids. Foods we eat can either increase the acid in our body or neutralize it. If the body is to function properly, it needs to keep a healthy balance of these chemicals. The kidneys do that, too.

There are some things that are bad for kidneys, of course.  Mainly I see people taking loads and loads of NSAIDS- Ibuprofen (Advil), naprosyn (Aleve) and aspirin.

On the flipside, there are things that are great for kidney health, like the following:
- Water
- Red bell peppers (lycopene,vit-A,C,B6 and Folic acid)
- Cabbage- Phytochemicals (antioxidants),Vit-C,Bs and folate
- Cauliflower-neutralizing compounds (Sulfur containing), Vit-C and folate
- Onions and Garlic-Quercitin
- Apples-Quercitin
- Berries and Cherries (Powerful Antioxidants)
- Red Grapes-Flavonoids and Resveretrol (This can help boost nitric oxide which increases muscle relaxation in blood vessels.)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Fatty acids help to decrease inflammation.)

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