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Here is what you should know about looking after your kidney health

This organ is crucial to your health for a whole host of reasons, many of which you probably didn’t even know about.

The kidneys are now recognised as a truly multi-functional organ that works non-stop every single day to keep you healthy. For example, your kidneys control your blood pressure; keep your bones healthy; help produce red blood cells and keep the blood stream free from waste and excess fluids.

We’ve been learning about the many functions of kidneys since 3rd century BC when, based on 2,500 years of clinical records, a major textbook on health and medicine (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine) presented kidneys as the organ which stores the body’s vital energy and symbolises the foundation of life.

Good lifestyle, diet and medicine can help you to protect your kidneys. Learn these five main steps towards stronger kidneys and better health:

1. EAT FRUIT & VEG

Good healthcare starts in the kitchen, so even if you are taking prescribed medicine don’t ruin your doctor’s efforts by eating things which are bad for your kidneys. Your food and drink should be treated as part of your healthcare. Do not underestimate the role of your diet in helping you to prevent disease or even recover from illness.

In Chinese Medicine, where diet is always crucial part of a healthy lifestyle, foods are classified according to the nature of their effect on the body’s key internal organs. Grapes, leek and strawberries are good for supporting, supplementing and tonifying the health of kidneys. Chinese Medicine also recommends you include cooked kidney beans (3 heaped table spoons) as part of your daily portion of ‘5 A DAY’ mix of fruits and vegetables.

2. BALANCE WORK, REST

According to Chinese Medicine, too much of any activity, posture or food is bad for your health. That’s because every action – whether work or leisure – taxes a particular part of your body and, when done excessively, tampers with its function of keeping you balanced and healthy.

Remember: physical work and sexual intercourse affect the kidneys.

Every time a man ejaculates during sex his body releases essential energy stored by the kidneys. This energy is known in Chinese Medicine as the Original Qi because you inherit it from your parents. It determines your constitution; it sustains your body and it creates life (when shared through semen). The ageing process is a reflection of the Original Qi’s depletion in the kidneys, and, its disappearance signals death. Avoiding overindulgence in sex and supplementing the depleted essence with energy from healthy food can help you avoid exhausting your kidneys.

Excessive physical exertion, such as walking while carrying a heavy load or standing up for long periods strains the kidneys. If you ignore the first warning sign (sweat) and continue to push yourself, then pain will develop in the lower back. It’s not a coincidence that the lower back area where kidneys are stored is also the location of the most common type of back pain (lumbar pain) caused by strenuous activity. Protect your kidneys by avoiding physical strain at work and home. Have rest in regular bursts.

3. TAKE GOOD CHINESE HERBS

Herbs have many health benefits which is the reason people in China and around the world have been using them for centuries. In Chinese Medicine, herbs are used as a natural means to prevention and treatment of various conditions. Herbs are also used to promote growth and delay ageing. The clinical records of their usage date back thousands of years in China.

According to Chinese Medicine each herb can provide a unique effect on a particular area of the body. Herbs of a salty nature can affect the kidney area. Certain herbs can function as a potent food supplement that replenishes the kidneys’ essential energy by supplying them with necessary nutrients.

Herbs can be combined to strengthen their overall potency or to achieve a multi-pronged therapeutic effect on the body. Choosing the right combination of herbs for your kidneys is the skill of a Chinese medical doctor and requires that they carry out a diagnosis of your health.

Herbs are most commonly prescribed raw and dried to be boiled and consumed as tea, but also as ground powder in capsules to be taken with water.

Speak to a qualified Chinese medical doctor about how herbs can help you to strengthen and protect your kidneys.

4. USE ACUPUNCTURE

Acupuncture is now widely used not only to relieve back pain (confirmed as effective treatment following a study by the World Health Organisation) but to treat many other health conditions, having stood the test of time following its invention in China over 2,500 years ago.

The Original Qi inherited from your parents, stored within the kidneys, has to circulate across the body to sustain your life. The circulation occurs over discreet channels covering various parts of the body. Just like with other internal organs, there is a channel attached to the kidneys through which their essential energies are released and received (for example, from food). Any interruption or imbalance in this circulation of vital energies can result in pain or illness within the kidneys or elsewhere in the body, according to Chinese Medicine.

By stimulating certain points along the kidney channel with acupuncture needles, the flow of vital energy can be restored, allowing the kidneys to perform their normal functions at optimal level. Acupuncture provides a natural and gentle way of looking after your kidneys and improving their health.

It is worth remembering that the kidney channel starts from under the fifth toe, goes up the thigh and the lumbar spine (lower back) to enter the kidneys, the urinary bladder and the liver; it enters the lung through the diaphragm and ends, via the throat, at the root of the tongue. This is just a snapshot of the interconnected nature of your body and its health.

Acupuncture for the kidneys or a specific related condition should be performed by a trained, qualified Chinese medical doctor following a diagnosis and is often prescribed to support the effect of a Chinese herbal prescription.

5. DRINK HERBAL TONICS

Tonic drinks are the easiest way of using herbs to look after your kidneys every day. One ampoule can provide a small dose of vitamins, nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids derived from Chinese herbs traditionally used to tonify the kidneys and maintain their health according to Chinese Medicine.

For example, herbs can be combined to soothe the kidneys and replenish their essential energy depleted during sexual intercourse. Using herbs this way can help the kidneys to detox your body and recharge after physical strain.

Herbal tonics should be frequently used as part of a healthy lifestyle and as a supplement to Chinese herbal prescriptions and acupuncture treatment for improving the kidney functions.

Need more advice, guidance or just help? Click here to see our doctors for personalised treatment and lifestyle advice for good kidney health