- New research into your kidney clock – could it be affecting your medication?
- Do you crave salt? Here’s why it could be a problem.
- Three drinks that clean your kidneys
Well I never!
This week I was reading about some new research in the latest American Society of Nephrology.
It was about how our kidneys contain a clock.
A weird idea… but I assumed they didn’t mean a carriage clock or a miniature version of Big Ben.
You might have heard of the circadian clock before?
It’s a rhythm in your body that helps you adapt to dark and light, night and day, activity and rest. Animals have evolved it so we can exist on this rotating ball hurtling through space around a giant hot sun.
Well, the clock inside your kidneys is part of that circadian clock. And it plays a huge role in maintaining a healthy balance in your body.
Particularly if you’re on medication…
You see, the kidneys control when and how drugs are eliminated from your body. Scientists now believe that understanding the body clock means that you can get more medicines to stay in your system for longer.
The same goes for toxins…
Your kidneys are constantly clearing your blood of harmful substances and toxins. So you want them out of your body as soon as possible, not lingering in your system.
But when they become overloaded, kidneys do precisely that. So one thing that could help is if you adjust and reset your circadian clock to give you kidneys a helping hand (and the rest of your body for that matter).
How to reset your body clock
There’s a great book called Chronotherapy: Resetting Your Inner Clock To Boost Mood, Alertness, and Quality Sleep.
It’s by Michael Terman, director of the Centre for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms at Columbia University Medical Centre and Ian McMahan from the City University of New York.
They point out that our body’s mechanisms get put out of kilter by too many late nights, ultra-early mornings, night shifts, insomnia, restless nights, parenthood, depression… and a whole host of disruptive factors.
When you get into the wrong pattern your pineal gland produces the sleepy hormone melatonin at times of day when you need to be alert… and then turns it off when you need to be asleep.
This in turn starts to alter your body clock, meaning that organs like your kidneys are working too hard at the wrong times, and not hard enough at other times.
Of course, the best solution is this…
GIVE UP WORK AND MOVE TO A SUNNY COUNTRY!
But we can’t all move to Spain. So the next best thing is to make sure you keep regular hours in the morning and at bed time. Get out into the sunshine (or whatever passes for it in the UK early summertime) and try to get some light, and vitamin D of course.
If you have trouble getting to sleep at night, then the authors of Chronotherapy say you should “take care to keep lights low at the end of the day, and to stay away from bright computer screens or television exposure shortly before bed.”
And if you have trouble getting up early, set an alarm clock and try a light box for 30 minutes after waking. Or a cheap version at this time of year is to get those curtains open and find a sunny spot in the house to sit in for a while before you get going.
The key is to get a regular rhythm going so that your body understands the cycles of night and day and work to their optimum.
It goes without saying that cutting down on stimulants like coffee in the evening would help too. But there’s also something else I discovered this week while researching kidneys…
Again it was quite surprising to me…
How this new “salt craving gene discovery” could help people with kidney problems.
Do you crave salt? Even when you know it’s really bad for you and the doctor’s warned you off it?
Well, there’s been a major new study funded by Kidney Research UK into why this happens.
Dr Matthew Bailey has been trying to find out if high blood pressure is a result of your kidneys excreting too much potassium…. and if this is because you eat too much salt.
In the process, he found a gene that controls our salt cravings. When that gene isn’t present, we get an uncontrollable urge to eat more salts, which increases blood pressure and raises the risk of kidney disease.
So some people are at a serious risk, because they crave salt whatever their brain tells them.
We all know salt boosts blood pressure, but its impact on your kidneys is less well known. And it could be serious.
Dr Bailey discusses the problems of salt in a scientific-but-friendly way in a video on YouTube called My genes don’t fit! Living in a salt-saturated society, which I’d highly recommend. Click here to watch it.
And if you’re worried about your kidney health you can also try the following…
Three drinks that clean your kidneys
- Parsley Tea – this is a diuretic, which means you go to the toilet more, clearing out your toxins. Traditionally it has been uses to treat urinary tract infections an kidney stones.
Simply boil some water, then bring it off the boil. Chop some fresh parsley, add to the mixture and steep for 5-10 minutes. When it cools you can store it in a bottle and pour out a cuppa once every morning.
- Lemon Juice – this raises citrate levels in your urine to help stop kidney stones from forming.
Simply boil the kettle, let it settle down for 5 minutes, then add it to a cup containing a whole lemon squeezed out. Add some honey to sweeten.
- Cranberry Juice – this is a famous cure for urinary tract infections. It works because it stops bacteria clinging to the urethra and bladder. But it also helps flush out calcium oxalate, a factor in getting kidney stones.
Either juice cranberries along with some of your favourite fruits (add lemon perhaps!) or buy this from shops. But make sure it’s as pure and fresh as you can get it, without additives and sugars (or as free from it as possible).
- Beetroot Juice – beetroot contains betaine, which works like an antioxidant and makes your urine more acid, similar to lemons. It can help clear calcium phosphate from your kidneys.
Adding fresh beetroot to juices is one of the easiest ways to try this, or simply eat plenty of beetroot in salads and with meals.
Until next time, stay healthy!