5 Kidney-Friendly Foods

The kidneys do a remarkable job every day: they tirelessly filter toxins from the body, regulate the water-electrolyte balance and produce vital hormones. Their effectiveness depends mainly on lifestyle and diet.

Enrico Zessin, Physician in further training for internal medicine and sports medicine, doctor of the German Athletics Association and qualified molecular biologist

The two excretory organs weigh only about 150 grams each, but they are essential for the organism. A restricted function manifests itself in several ways. FITBOOK reveals 5 healthy foods that have been proven to protect the kidneys.

1. Lemon juice

At least two liters of water a day is known to be the best medicine for the kidneys. The liquid flushes the organs properly and thus ensures healthy functioning. 100 milliliters of freshly squeezed lemon juice (preferably from organic lemons) not only tops it all off in terms of freshness, but the citrates it contains have also been proven to prevent kidney stones. According to a scientific publication by the Korean Urological Association, said citrates bind excess calcium, which in turn prevents the formation of painful crystals in the kidneys.1 Nice side effect for the immune system: the extra portion of vitamin C.

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2. Apples

The versatile apple fruit has also been shown to be a real “kidney stone scare” in numerous studies. It’s so effective that the American Society of Nephrology (nephrology is a medical specialty that deals with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of kidney disease) titled “An Apple a Day Keeps Kidney Stones Away” in the one of his daily articles keeps kidney stones away) titled. The authors point to an 18-year study that found participants who ate fresh fruits and vegetables daily (while largely avoiding salt and red meat) developed kidney stones up to 45% less often than the group. comparison, which depended on junk food. The pectin contained in apples has proven to be particularly effective. The valuable vegetable fiber occupies the kidney function, mainly due to its cholesterol-lowering and blood sugar-regulating effect.

3. Buckwheat

In Russia, buckwheat is one of the most important staple foods, in this country the nutty-tasting, gluten-free grain tends to have a niche existence. Buckwheat is not only a delicious source of protein, iron, B vitamins, magnesium and zinc – the so-called pseudocereal also apparently has the property of measurably improving the function of already damaged kidneys . A Chinese study conducted on rats suffering from diabetes gives indications of this. The little animals, which also had kidney damage, were regularly given buckwheat extract, which allowed their detoxification organs to recover significantly.2 It is still unclear whether this finding can be extrapolated to humans. However, the US National Kidney Foundation, among others, recommends including buckwheat on the menu regularly.

Delicious “kidney treats”: stuffed buckwheat pancakesPhoto: Getty Images

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4. Ginger

Ginger is already one of the most remarkable foods in terms of healing properties. Whether it’s nausea, sore throat, feeling full, menstrual pain or much more – a little ginger promises fast relief for a wide variety of ailments. When it comes to the link between ginger and kidney health, researchers are also increasingly on the trail. Above all, the antioxidants contained in the tuber would work wonders. A 2014 study, in which rats were also to be used, revealed the anti-inflammatory and therefore protective effect of ginger extract in kidney damage caused by fructose. According to scientists, diabetic patients in particular should have dual access to ginger.3

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5. Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower or broccoli

Cauliflower and broccoli are among the so-called cruciferous vegetables, just like kohlrabi, white cabbage, Brussels sprouts or Chinese cabbage. They cannot miss in the list of foods good for the kidneys. What these powerful vegetables have in common in terms of healthy ingredients, in addition to iron, calcium, selenium, copper, manganese and zinc, are the so-called mustard oil glycosides. These are chemical compounds that really pack a punch. Several studies have suggested a direct link between mustard oil glycosides and a reduced risk of cancer.4 A mega-meta study published in 2013 (an analysis of a total of 12 studies, with a total of more than 1.2 million subjects) came to the conclusion that regular consumption of cruciferous vegetables – especially cabbage – flower – measurably reduces the risk of renal cell carcinoma and therefore kidney cancer.5

Baked cauliflower
Baked cauliflower: not only delicious, but also a contribution to cancer prevention Photo: Getty Images

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What foods literally go to the kidneys

Salt, fats, sugar, sweeteners such as aspartame, meat and alcohol are considered real “kidney killers” and should of course only be consumed in moderation. But there are also healthy foods like rhubarb, spinach, amaranth, or chard that people with chronic kidney disease or kidney failure should severely limit. They contain large amounts of oxalic acid, from which the metabolic product oxalate is formed in the body. This must be excreted via the intestines and the kidneys, which usually no longer function properly under constant stress. Possible consequences: kidney stones, kidney failure that can lead to uremia (urinary intoxication). Vegetarians should also be careful with foods containing oxalic acid, as the substance inhibits iron absorption.

And another quick reminder: there is never just one food that can guarantee that you stay healthy on all levels. The balanced mix makes it, with enough exercise, enough sleep, little alcohol and a positive attitude towards life.


  • 1. Gul Z, Monga M (2014). Medical and dietary therapy for the prevention of kidney stones. Korean J Urol.
  • 2. Chu JX, Wang ZL, Han SY. (2011). The effects of total flavonoids from buckwheat flowers and leaves on kidney damage and PTP1B expression in type 2 diabetic rats. Iran J Pharm Res.
  • 3. Yang M, Liu C, Jiang J et al. (2014). Ginger extracts decrease chronic kidney damage induced by fructose consumption by suppressing renal overexpression of pro-inflammatory cytokines in rats. BMC Complement Aging Med.
  • 4. Keck, Anna & Finley, John. (2004). Cruciferous vegetables: cancer protection mechanisms of glucosinolate and selenium hydrolysis products. Integrative cancer therapies.
  • 5. Zhao J, Zhao L (2013). Consumption of cruciferous vegetables is associated with a lower risk of renal cell carcinoma: evidence from a meta-analysis of observational studies. PLOS One.

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