Many know that a major function of the kidneys is to excrete waste and toxins from the body. This process is necessary to balance the body’s chemicals. Thus, the kidneys are vital, and maintaining a healthy kidney function is essential for your overall health and wellbeing.
The kidneys also produce hormones and natural substances that your body requires. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) also emphasizes that the kidneys are the source of yin (passive energy) and yang (active energy).
TCM believes that the kidneys stores jing, an essential substance for bone growth, closely associated with life. This substance can transform into qi (vital force) and blood, making the kidneys central to your wellness. Here are why healthy kidneys are critical to good health and natural ways to boost kidney function.
Normal Kidney Function is Important to Nurture the Reproductive Organs
From the TCM perspective, kidneys promote the healthy maturity of a person’s reproductive organs during adolescence. Females will typically experience menstruation monthly. In contrast, males will see an increase in the size of their genitals and experience their first ejaculation.
Kidney jing will start to deplete by the late-thirties or early-forties. During this time, a woman’s ability to conceive will reduce, and she may begin to experience pre-menopausal symptoms. On the other hand, physicians commonly link fertility issues to imbalances in the kidney system, specifically a yang deficiency in the kidneys.
The Kidneys Promotes Strong and Healthy Bones
Kidney jing can also transform into bone marrow, which is needed to nourish a person’s bone structure and, in turn, support their growth and repair. However, if a person has a deficiency of jing in their kidneys, it can risk developing brittle bones.
Alternatively, young children with a lack of jing may be prone to experiencing stunted growth, while the elderly may be at risk of developing osteoporosis.
Kidneys also play an important role in the production of vitamin D, which is essential for building strong bones and affects immune functions and mental well-being.
Healthy Kidneys Supports Nourished, Beautiful Hair
For beautiful hair, make sure you take diligent care of your kidneys. Good kidney jing and healthy blood circulation manifest as nourished hair that is healthy, lustrous, and thick. On the contrary, a lack of jing and blood can cause a person’s hair to become dry, brittle, and dull.
In addition, imbalances in the liver and kidneys can also cause your hair to turn grey and thin. Fortunately, taking the proper steps to treat these underlying health problems can help reverse signs of aging and ill-health.
3 Ways to Support Healthy Kidney Function
Making good lifestyle choices is vital for influencing a person’s congenital jing and improving their overall quality of life.
1. Consuming foods that help with kidney-related disorders
Eating foods like apples and fatty fish can help prevent kidney damage or reduce the severity of symptoms associated with a particular kidney-related condition. For instance, apples can provide your body with pectin, a soluble fiber that helps to regulate the risk factors of kidney damage, such as high blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Similarly, consuming fatty fish is also associated with reducing symptoms like pruritus, which is commonly associated with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Drinking a tonic prepared using chicken essence and Cordyceps extract once daily is also effective for nourishing the lungs, strengthening the kidneys, and improving vitality.
2. Getting sufficient restful sleep every night
Many people link a lack of nocturnal sleep to an accelerated risk of kidney function decline. Interestingly, getting too much sleep at night can also cause kidney-related disorders like CKD and glomerular hyperfiltration.
Young and middle-aged adults should aim for at least 7-9 hours every night. Elderly adults, on the other hand, should aim for 7-8 hours of sleep daily. If you are finding it difficult to get quality sleep at night, TCM physicians recommend consuming a blend of vinegar, spine dates, and walnut membrane, which can provide a calming effect on the mind and body. However, please seek professional advice if you suffer from a prolonged sleep disorder.
3. Exercising regularly
People with CKD should engage in physical activity regularly. Physical inactivity can impair kidney function and cause problems like breathing difficulties, fatigue, joint pain, and physical weakness.
Those who suffer from an existing kidney disorder should incorporate exercise routines that continuously move large muscle groups. These include activities such as aerobic dancing, indoor or outdoor cycling, walking, and swimming.
Low-impact strength training combining light weights and high repetitions is also suitable. However, people with existing conditions should avoid heavy lifting altogether. To help you get the most out of your workouts, you can also consume a supplement that contains essential amino acids like isoleucine, leucine, and valine.
Good kidney function plays a vital role in keeping your body functioning. That’s why taking care of your kidneys should be a top priority. Maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle is the best you can do. You should talk to a doctor to watch for signs of loss of kidney function. You can also seek advice from a TCM practitioner. They can prescribe herbal remedies that can address a specific deficiency.
- National Kidney Foundation. 2014. 7 Kidney-Friendly Superfoods [Accessed 20 October 2021]
- US National Library of Medicine. 2016. Therapeutic Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Chronic Kidney Disease-Associated Pruritus: a Literature Review [Accessed 20 October 2021]
- US National Library of Medicine. 2017. Sleep duration and quality in relation to chronic kidney disease and glomerular hyperfiltration in healthy men and women [Accessed 20 October 2021]
- Sleep Foundation. 2021. How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? [Accessed 20 October 2021]
- Government of Alberta. 2019. Exercise and Chronic Kidney Disease [Accessed 20 October 2021]
- National Kidney Foundation. Staying Fit With Kidney Disease [Accessed 20 October 2021]
- Shen Space. 2019. TCM and the Menstrual Cycle – Part II [online]. [Accessed 20 October 2021]
- Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 2018. Traditional Chinese Medicine syndrome elements of male infertility revealed by latent tree model analysis [Accessed 20 October 2021]
- US National Library of Medicine. 2013. Therapeutic use of traditional Chinese herbal medications for chronic kidney diseases [online]. [Accessed 20 October 2021]
- Wolters Kluwer. 2020. Changes in kidney function during the menopausal transition: the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) – Michigan site [Accessed 20 October 2021]
- American Society of Nephrology. 2021. Fatigue in CKD [Accessed 20 October 2021]
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