Water that goes up must come down. Water that goes in must come out.
Did you know that your body has a water cycle like nature? If you remember WAAAAAYYYY back to your elementary earth science class - evaporation, condensation, precipitation and collection are used to describe how water moves around earth and atmosphere. Well, I have a new lesson for you. This is the holistic water cycle of the kidneys. Let’s take it backwards from that tall drink of water.
Collection – You take in water by mouth, skin and breath.
Precipitation – The kidneys create urine of the excess water and waste.
Condensation – The kidneys balance water level and minerals in your body.
Evaporation – Water droplets transfer in and out through your breath and skin.
The kidneys are like the wetlands and underground rivers of the earth’s water cycle – the filters and energy stores for your body. They regulate the water level and clean toxins. Kidneys also control important mineral levels like vitamin D and calcium for your bones. Traditional Chinese Medicine considers the kidneys as the energy powerhouse of the body. If healthy, they are a well-balanced machine! After you drink your kidneys kick into overdrive to flush out the perfect amount of excess. Think flooding of the rivers. Rivers become muddy and brown, but the yellow color of urine is from the natural muscle protein breakdown. Did you know that your muscles store of insulin? This is why exercising FOR your kidney function is so important. Diabetes, Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) or Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) improve immediately following exercise and over time, some of these diseases can even be reversed.
So…what does a healthy holistic water cycle of the kidneys look like?
Collection – An appropriate water intake improves the kidney function. After a tall glass of water, your kidneys kick into overdrive to balance out the fluid level. This is one reason it is so important to drink enough water. The more you drink the better your kidneys work. However, if you are experiencing heart failure, CKD or AKI be sure to check with your physician about the proper amount.
Precipitation – Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) sees the kidneys are the “powerhouse” of the body. They are responsible for sending energy to all the other organs. TCM therapy would recommend stomping your flat feet on the floor or massaging your ears to stimulate healthy kidney energy, (1). Yoga therapy offers several movements to stimulate kidney function as well. Twisting movements and back extensions, for instance, can compress and extend the kidneys. This squeezes the kidneys like wringing out the excess water from a washcloth. You send all the dirty water down the drain. Well...into your bladder then down the drain.
Condensation – Resistance training and aerobic exercises improve insulin sensitivity and increase the filtration rate of your kidneys, (2). So not only does this help with diabetes regulation but also makes you urinate more, filter more and cleanse better. It has been proven that recovery from AKI is faster if the patient is involved in an exercise program, (3). Even if you are already on dialysis, aerobic exercise will “enhance insulin sensitivity, improve lipid profile, increase hemoglobin, increase strength, decrease blood pressure, and improve quality of life” (3).
Evaporation – Heavy breathing during exercise expels moisture. Not to mention the water released if we sweat. This is why it is so important to regulate water intake around your exercise. A glass of water about an hour before, a few sips during and a glass after exercise can really go a long way to keep the body, and kidneys, functioning at their best. Soft breathing and relaxation techniques can lower blood pressure and reduce stress on the kidney function. Think water over the dam to keep back the lake. Meditation, relaxation and breathing exercises plug in those powerhouses to an energy source.
Kidneys are a life preserving organ. They are truly the “powerhouse” of the body. If the kidneys are not balanced the body is either carrying too much or too little. Think a river dam about to burst. Pressure increases on all sides. One little storm can destroy the weakest point. Too little water and the rivers run dry. What have you done lately to help your kidneys be healthy? Start today with a tall glass of water, a slight twist in the waist, a brisk walk then breathe deeply and restore. Be calm like water in balance.
As always check with your physician before following any health therapy.
2. Moinuddin I, Leehey DJ. A comparison of aerobic exercise and resistance training in patients with and without chronic kidney disease. Adv Chronic Kidney Dis. 2008 Jan;15(1):83-96. doi: 10.1053/j.ackd.2007.10.004. PMID: 18155113.Asad A, Burton JO,
3. March DS. Exercise as a therapeutic option for acute kidney injury: mechanisms and considerations for the design of future clinical studies. BMC Nephrol. 2020 Oct 23;21(1):446. doi: 10.1186/s12882-020-02098-9. PMID: 33097033; PMCID: PMC7585193.