Nourishing Foods for Kidney Health

Posted on February 25, 2013

According to Chinese Medicine, winter is the time to support the kidneys, which are one of our major organs of detoxification. 

Our kidneys govern our vital life force energy. They regulate water metabolism, our sex organs and fertility, bones, teeth, hair and hearing. As you see, kidney energy is incredibly important to our health. 

When the kidneys are overworked, one can easily become fatigued. However, very few people associate fatigue with depleted kidney energy. Over time, the kidneys can become weak yet display no real symptoms of this weakness. For example, one sign of weakened kidney energy is lower back pain, but often no-one considers that this fatigue could be stemming form the kidneys. 

When your kidneys are imbalanced it often shows up as:

  • bone problems, especially those of the knees, lower back, and teeth
  • edema, asthma
  • hearing loss or infections
  • thyroid problem
  • dark circles under your eyes
  • hair problems like hair loss, split ends
  • poor growth and development, premature aging
  • excessive fear
  • any urinary or sexual probems, low libido, and infertility

The emotion associated with our kidneys is fear. When we have excessive fear it "injures" the kidneys. 

Foods that nurture kidney health are:

  • millet
  • quinoa
  • barley
  • black beans
  • kidney beans
  • mung beans and its sprouts
  • lentils
  • kuzu root
  • endive
  • watercress
  • turnip
  • celery
  • asparagus
  • alfalfa
  • shitakee mushrooms
  • walnuts
  • parsnips
  • parsley
  • mustard greens
  • winter squash
  • cabbage
  • kale
  • onions
  • garlic
  • leeks
  • scallions
  • strawberry
  • mulberry
  • blueberry
  • spirulina
  • chlorella
  • black sesame seeds
  • wild salmon
  • aloe vera
  • goji berries
  • miso
  • eggs (in small amounts)
  • pork  (in small amounts)
  • cheese (in small amounts)

The flavors that support winter's Water energy are the salty and bitter flavors, because they promote a sinking, centering quality. 

The Kidneys can manifest a deficiency of Kidney Yin and/or Kidney Yang.

Symptoms of Kidney Yin deficiency include diziness, ringing in the ears, fever, dry mouth and throat, constipation, fine and rapid pulse and spontaneous sweating. Also low back ache, weak legs, distinctly red tongue. A person with kidney yin deficiency is usually agitated, irritated, nervous, insecure and fearful.

Kidney Yang deficiency indicates that the warming, energizing and controlling function of the kidneys is inadequate. It includes cold extremities, an aversion to cold, lack of sexual desire, frequent clear urination, weak knees and back and a pale complexion. People with this deficency tend to have hypothyroidism, asthma, impotence, difficult bowel movements. The person with kidney yang deficiency tends to be inactive, indecisive, and unproductive.

Foods that nurture Kidney Yin include millet, barley, tofu, string beans, black beans, kuzu, watermelon, berries (black, mulberries, blue) potato, seaweeds, spirulina, chorella, black sesame seeds, sardines, crab, clams, eggs, pork and cheese.

Foods that nurture Kidney Yang include cloves, fennel, anise, black peppercorn, ginger, cinnamon, onion family, chicken, lamb, trout, salmon, quinoa and walnuts.

Foods that build up the Kidney Chi include parsley, wheat berries and sweet rice.

Avoid cooling foods and fruits, raw foods, iced drinks, excessive table salt.


Join us for one week of eating kidney and adrenal nourishing foods. 

The Nourish. A 7-Day Winter Cleanse will be starting on March 1st.

For more info visit this page.





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