Your kidneys cleanse nearly 200 quarts of blood every day to produce urine, which is stored in the bladder before being removed from your body, according to the American Kidney Foundation. Together, the kidneys and bladder form a highly efficient component of your body's natural detoxification and waste removal system. A variety of foods may assist the function of these important organs. Check with your doctor before using foods to treat a kidney or bladder condition.
Foods with high calcium content help the kidneys by reducing levels of kidney stone-forming compounds called oxalates -- which are found in some plant foods such as parsley, spinach, cocoa and berries. Calcium binds to oxalate while it is still in the digestive tract and prevents it from being absorbed. According to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse, if you have a tendency to form kidney stones, you should get 800 milligrams of calcium in your diet every other day to ensure sufficient quantities to prevent kidney stones. Good sources of calcium include dairy products such as low-fat milk and yogurt, broccoli, kale and canned fish with bones, such as sardines and salmon.
Citrus fruits protect your kidneys from inflammation and scar tissue formation, according to a study in the April 2011 issue of the journal "PLoS One." Citrus fruits are particularly high in pectin, which contains compounds that have been shown to provide diverse health benefits for the kidneys. In the laboratory animal study, drinking water containing citrus pectin protected laboratory animals from kidney injury. Researchers concluded that citrus pectin may prove to be a useful nutrient, when used on a long-term basis, to prevent kidney injury.
Some foods that benefit your kidneys may not be bladder-friendly, particularly if you experience a chronic condition known as interstitial cystitis -- a condition involving bladder pain and urinary frequency. Acid foods, such as citrus and most fruits, with the possible exception of blueberries and pears, are off the list of helpful foods for the bladder, according to registered dietitian Julie Beyer, MA. Instead, load up on alkalizing foods such as asparagus, avocado, broccoli, leafy greens and squash. Snack on almonds and use spices such as basil, garlic, oregano and thyme.
Bladder Cleansing Foods
Celery, parsley and watermelon provide natural diuretic effects that help cleanse the bladder and urethra -- the tube that carries urine out of the bladder, says Phyllis Balch, author of the book "Prescription for Natural Healing." Probiotic-containing foods, such as yogurt, can help to establish healthy bacteria and discourage pathogens. Also, whey powder -- a protein contained in the liquid portion of milk that is removed during the manufacture of cheese -- provides immune-boosting effects. A study published in the February 2010 issue of the "Journal of Dairy Science" reported on antimicrobial, antiviral and pain-relieving effects of whey protein. Balch recommends taking two teaspoons of whey powder with each meal to improve bladder health.
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Calcium
- National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Diet for Kidney Stone Prevention
- PLoS One: Modified Citrus Pectin Reduces Galectin-3 Expression and Disease Severity in Experimental Acute Kidney Injury
- Journal of Dairy Science: Invited Review: Physiological Properties of Bioactive Peptides Obtained from Whey Proteins
- Prescription for Nutritional Healing; Phyllis A. Balch
- National Kidney Foundation: How Your Kidneys Work