Along with your liver, your kidneys and bladder are your body’s waste removal system. They eliminate waste products found in your cells and help get rid of toxins – not only toxins derived from food, pesticides or a contaminated environment, but also those caused by stress. So it makes sense to look after these organs holistically.

What are the most common problems affecting the bladder and kidneys?

  • Incontinence, or the feeling that your bladder does not empty completely.
  • Not being able to hold as much urine as you did before.
  • A blocked urethra (the canal through which urine passes).
  • Infections.
  • Kidney stones
  • Blood in the urine.

When should you consult your healthcare practitioner?

  • When you have a urinary tract infection (find the symptoms http://floraforce.co.za/urinary-tract-infection/ here).
  • When you constantly feel the need to urinate.
  • When you feel pain during urination.
  • When there’s blood in the urine.
  • When any of the above symptoms are accompanied by pains, chills, fever, vomiting and exhaustion.

How to look after your bladder and kidneys

Here are some tips to help keep your urinary tract happy:

  • Hydrate, but don’t overdo it. According to US nephrologist Dr James Simon, ‘Contrary to popular belief, no studies have proven over-hydration as an effective practice in enhancing kidney function.’ Drinking more than the recommended four to six glasses a day probably won’t help your kidneys do their job any better.
  • Ditch the junk food and eat more healthily. Your kidneys can deal with a lot, says Dr Simon, ‘but most kidney problems arise out of other medical conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.’ Prevent those conditions with healthy eating and the occasional detox (see below).
  • Exercise regularly. Yes, we know – we talk about this all the time! The benefits of exercise go much, much further that simply toning your booty for the beach. Regular physical activity can also stave off high blood pressure. Again, don’t overdo it. Over-exertion can put a strain on your bladder and kidneys. Keep it sensible.
  • Use supplements and herbal remedies with care.
    People tend to self-medicate when it comes to natural remedies. And there are always those who believe that a higher dosage of a remedy/vitamin is more beneficial than the prescribed dose. The truth is that excessive amounts of certain vitamins and herbal extracts can harm your kidneys. It’s always best to talk to your herbal practitioner before embarking on a course of natural remedies.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking can damage blood vessels, which decreases the flow of blood in the kidneys, inhibiting their ability to function. Smoking also increases the risk of high blood pressure and kidney cancer.
  • Do you take over-the-counter medications? ‘Common non-prescription pills like ibuprofen and naproxen (NSAIDs) can cause kidney damage if taken regularly over a prolonged period,’ Dr Simon says. Chat to your healthcare practitioner about monitoring your kidney function and finding alternative and healthier ways to control aches and pains.
  • Get regular screenings for kidney function. People diagnosed with high blood pressure or diabetes should have their kidneys screened regularly as part of routine care for those conditions.
  • Give your bladder and kidneys a rest every three days. Feel pale at the thought? There’s no need to worry. It’s not complex or demanding – simply a minor detox that’s guaranteed to make you feel chirpier. And for those of you prone to getting kidney stones, this simple cleanse will vastly reduce the chance of recurrence.
    For just one day, eliminate these foods from your diet: coffee, alcohol, fizzy drinks, foods that are very high in protein, salt – all of which make your bladder and kidneys work twice as hard as they need to.
    Instead, include these foods: fresh juices – anti-oxidant-containing blueberry, carrot (purifies the blood) and grape (a mineral-rich juice that helps eliminate uric acid); raw vegetables – asparagus (stimulates kidney function), spinach (a detoxifier), celery (a mineral-rich diuretic), beetroot (detoxes the kidneys) and white beans; herbs – nettle, dandelion (both diuretics), parsley (excellent for cleaning kidneys).
  • Improve your urinary system with Buchu – this indigenous herb acts as a bladder antiseptic, relieves irritation and inflammation, fights invasion by micro-organisms and prevents urine retention (it has a diuretic effect on your kidneys). Read more about buchu in our herb library and buy it online here.
  • Learn to relax. Stress is the silent killer, raising blood pressure and affecting your entire body. There are many approaches to dealing with stress – we recommend that you consult your healthcare practitioner to find out which suits you best.

So, pay attention to your diet, get some exercise, breathe deeply and give your urinary system a dietary treat every few days. We wish your bladders and kidneys a long and healthy life!

Acknowledgements & Photo credits

Article compiled for Flora Force by Judy Beyer.

References

  1. Cleveland Clinic Urinary and Kidney Team. 7 secrets to keeping your kidneys healthy. 2015, April. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/04/7-secrets-to-keeping-your-kidneys-healthy/
  2. Step to Health. How to care for your kidneys and bladder. http://steptohealth.com/care-kidneys-and-bladder/

Photo credits

  1. Image courtesy of Zorro4 / Pixabay.com