The primary job of the kidneys is to remove the waste products of protein metabolism from the blood. These include nitrogen, uric acid (urea) and ammonia. But the kidneys also remove many other toxins, including excess hormones, vitamins, minerals, food additives, drugs and other foreign substances. In addition, they regulate the body's electrolyte balance, the array of minerals -- including calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphate, potassium, and sodium -- needed for healthy nerve function. The kidneys are also involved in maintaining healthy blood pressure.
Finally, the kidneys regulate the amount of water in the body. When we consume too much liquid, the kidneys increase urination. When we drink too little, the kidneys retain water. Water, of course, keeps the moisture content of our skin at a high level.
Most of us don't consume enough pure, clean water. Tap water is often polluted with heavy metals and industrial chemicals. Not only are we water deprived, but many of us get all our liquids in the form of coffee, tea, soda, fruit juice and alcoholic beverages. All of these drinks can stress the kidneys, resulting in the loss of vital minerals and water. Coffee and soda, for example, are rich in phosphates and caffeine, which tax the kidneys and promote bone loss. Alcohol causes the body to be dehydrated and forces the kidneys to work hard to retain water. Meanwhile, many doctors and scientists have long known that excess consumption of animal proteins (more than 20 per cent of calories per day) can damage the kidneys.
All of this means that if we are to have beautiful, well-hydrated skin, we must take good care of our kidneys by implementing the following practices:
1. Drink adequate amounts of pure spring water each day. Keep a large glass or a bottle of spring water at your desk and drink it throughout the day. Let your body tell you how much water you need by monitoring your reaction to the water you drink. As you drink, notice if your thirst becomes aroused and your body actually draws in the water. This is a sign that your body needs more water. Drink water morning, afternoon and evening. This gives your body the opportunity to get all the water it needs, helping it eliminate waste products.
2. Get adequate sleep each night. You will notice that when you are exhausted, your skin is less radiant and more prone to blemishes and rashes. The kidneys are strengthened by rest and, more specifically, sleep. Six to eight hours of deep sleep per night allows the kidneys to adequately cleanse the blood, eliminating waste products that would otherwise be shunted to the skin. Try to establish a consistent rhythm between your waking and sleeping hours, especially if you lack vitality. Consider taking a short nap on the weekends, particularly when you are going through times of stress.
3. Consume appropriate -- meaning low -- amounts of sea salt (sodium chloride) and, for beautiful skin, avoid salty snacks. Health authorities recommend that we limit daily sodium intake to about 2,300 milligrams (mg), or about one teaspoon of salt. Try using celtic sea salt for its high mineral content.
Salt is only part sodium (the rest is chloride and other minerals). Food labels show sodium content, as opposed to salt content. Health experts recommend that we consume only 200 mg of sodium each day. A plant-based diet with regular consumption of animal foods provides all the sodium your body needs.
Salt consumption becomes excessive when we eat too many salty snacks and add salt to our foods. Excess salt consumption causes the kidneys to work overtime. Think back to the last time you had salty popcorn at the movies and had to urinate more than you're used to. Excess salt may result in bone loss, or osteoporosis. So if you have these conditions, I recommend that you avoid all salty snacks and refrain from adding salt or salty condiments, such as shoyu, tamari or miso, at the table. Instead, cook with a pinch of sea salt and use low-sodium fermented foods. This, coupled with the naturally occurring sodium in your grains, vegetables and animal foods, provides appropriate amounts of salt. Your kidneys will become stronger and your skin will glow.
4. Control stress on the kidneys by finding your natural rhythms and engaging in supportive behaviours.
5. For the most beautiful skin, make plant foods your primary source of protein and supplement with small amounts of animal protein. The most abundant source of protein in the plant kingdom is beans and bean products, including tempeh and tofu, both soybean products. Some plant proteins are easier than animal foods for your kidneys to metabolize, while animal proteins increase urea, ammonia and nitrogen, thus increasing the stress levels on your kidneys and skin.
6. Walk daily and, whenever possible, sweat. Exercise and sweat open the pores, promote deep breathing and eliminate toxins that otherwise would be processed by the skin. Check out the sauna at your local health club or gym and try to take a sauna monthly or perhaps seasonally. Remember to cover the sensitive areas of your face with a thick cream when using a sauna or steam bath.
7. Minimize your consumption of soft drinks and alcohol, and if you have any type of acute skin condition, eliminate soft drinks entirely. This is especially important for children and teenagers.
|Excerpted from Awakening Beauty, the Dr. Hauschka Way by Susan West Kurz. Copyright 2006 by by Thomas Harris. Excerpted by permission of Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.|