Detoxification and the Kidneys

Your kidneys play a very important part in the normal and everyday detoxification of your body. Yet not a lot is mentioned about the importance of them in connection with detox programs apart from the usual advice to drink a lot of water to help flush them out.

The Chinese believe the kidneys to be the center of a person’s hereditary energy which is passed on at birth and that good kidney function is linked with vitality and longevity. So kidney detoxification is very important.

Most people are born with 2, fist sized, bean shaped kidneys located in the back, one either side of the spine just above the waist protected by the lower ribcage. They contain a complicated network of tiny tubes which act like a water purification plant.

They have the job of processing nearly 180 litres (48 gallons) of blood every day. They filter, cleanse, reabsorb nutrients and water vital to the body, and excrete substances the body cannot use in the 1 - 2 litres (1–2 quarts) of urine they produce every day. Your kidneys play an important part in getting rid of toxic waste, controlling blood pressure and the manufacture of the active form of vitamin D.

So what is the importance of your kidneys in detoxification? Once the capacity of the liver to detoxify is overloaded toxins can accumulate in the blood stream. According to Dr Matsen there are even some intestinal toxins that the liver detox function is unable to deal with even if it is functioning well. Your kidneys are the organs left to detoxify them.

An overload of toxins can cause irritation and the whole of the urinary tract becomes more prone to infection. Normal kidney function may be interfered with resulting in water retention, kidney stones and mineral deficiencies.

What do My Kidneys Do?

Your kidneys are bean-shaped organs, each about the size of your fist. They are located near the middle of your back, just below the rib cage. They filter the blood and remove toxins that have been made water-soluable by complex enzymatic processes that take place in the liver. The kidneys also remove ammonia that results during the break-down of the amino acids used in many bodily processes. Learn more about how the body detoxes.

The kidneys are sophisticated reprocessing machines. Every day, your kidneys process about 200 quarts of blood to sift out about 2 quarts of waste products and extra water. The waste and extra water become urine, which flows to your bladder through tubes called ureters. Your bladder stores urine until you go to the bathroom.

Another job the kidneys perform is in helping to balance the body's internal environment by removing excess water, gases, salts and other organic materials, while conserving the substances the body requires for its normal functioning. The kidneys do this by a process of selective filtering. The qualitative aspects of this job are better appreciated when the volume of filtering is understood.

The wastes in your blood come from the normal breakdown of active tissues and from the food you eat. Your body uses the food for energy and self-repair. After your body has taken what it needs from the food, waste is sent to the blood. If your kidneys did not remove these wastes, the wastes would build up in the blood and damage your body.

Maintaining Kidney Health

Magnesium deficiency can have a direct effect on kidney function because of its link to high blood pressure. This constant high pressure of blood can damage the tiny kidney tubules. Some types of kidney stones are due to a calcium/magnesium imbalance. Eating magnesium rich foods which are included in most detoxification diets is important. Good sources are green vegetables, nuts and seeds and wholegrains.

A diet high in sugar causes some people to retain salt and water contributing to weight increase. A high sugar and salt diet can have an effect on calcium metabolism which can result in the formation of certain types of kidney stones.

The breakdown of meat results in uric acid and oxalic acid both of which are involved in stone formation. Alcohol too appears to contribute to stone formation probably through its effects on uric acid, calcium and phosphate excretion. Natural detox diets eliminate alcohol, tea and coffee which are high in oxalic acid and lower meat, salt and sugar intake.

Water intake is very controversial. Your body is 60 – 75% water and your brain 85%. Approximately 1- 2 litres (1 -2 quarts) is lost daily in urine and 1 quart in the breath which has to be replaced. There appears to be no scientific validation for the 8 – 10 x 8oz glasses of water rule. Dr Batmanghelidj, an Iranian physician maintains that the majority of Americans are dehydrated and that water is the cure for many ailments.

Vegetables and fruit are high in water so this can count towards the daily water intake. It used to be said that tea and coffee acted as diuretics causing loss of water so could not be counted as part of the day’s fluid intake. Some recent research seems to prove that this is not the case so can count towards the total intake. However they contain caffeine and other substances which can be harmful to health so are eliminated or significantly reduced on detoxification programs and healthy eating plans.

Too much water can be harmful and there have been documented cases where people have become very ill from the effects of low sodium in the body from drinking excessive amounts of water. 8 – 10 glasses of pure water a day seems to be a rule of thumb and certainly will do no harm.

There are many herbs that help support kidney function and some detoxification programs include herbal kidney cleanses.