Perhaps the most important factor to improve kidney health is the way you start the day. There are six steps in a morning routine that I believe can keep kidneys healthy and help slow the progression of early kidney disease. In this blog, I will discuss these six steps to kidney health.
This routine should take no longer than an hour. Your kidneys and health deserve an hour from you every morning. I understand many of us have hectic lives, but if you are busy, try to go to bed early and wake up one hour earlier the next morning. Trust me, it is worth it. An hour morning routine beats dialysis any time. This could be the first step in how to heal your kidneys naturally.
Start with water
At night the body loses a lot of water due to sweat and breathing. In fact, in a small study presented at an Associated Professional Sleep Societies meeting in 2009, healthy young men were found to lose ¼ lbs. per hour while asleep. That is about 2 lbs. in eight hours of sleep.
This is why you should start your day with water. The rest of the routine can be done according to your judgment and comfort. Start with drinking two glasses of filtered water if you are not on any water restrictions. This is even more important for patients with polycystic kidney disease and kidney stones. If you are wondering how much water to drink in PKD, check out our calculator here.
Exercise for about 20 minutes. The type and duration of exercise depend on an individual’s level of functioning, endurance, and preference. Studies on exercise in chronic kidney disease (CKD) have included resistance training and aerobic activities that use large muscle groups continuously such as walking, cycling, and jogging.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) was shown to offer superior benefits in individuals with metabolic disease. In the few studies of HIIT in CKD, it was found to be a safe and feasible option for individuals with CKD.
If you are new to exercising, start slow and try to gradually get to 20 minutes of strenuous exercise five to six days a week. It is best to alternate between aerobic exercise and resistance training. If you absolutely can’t fit exercise into your morning routine, you can move it to whatever time that works for you. The benefits are all the same. Consistency is the key here.
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Meditate for at least 10 minutes. Meditation is a great way to start your day, manage stress, and stimulate your vagus nerve, which connects the brain with many vital organs including the kidneys. There are many ways to meditate and many types of meditations. Mindfulness meditation is the most tested in kidney patients. It has been shown to improve the quality of life, reduce anxiety and depression, reduce sympathetic overactivity, improve sleep, and improve blood pressure.
To practice mindfulness meditation such as Benson’s relaxation technique, sit in a comfortable position or on a meditation cushion, close your eyes, relax your shoulders and muscles, and focus on your breathing. Say a word with every exhalation. Pick a positive word like “gratitude.” As your mind starts racing to distract you from your breath, try to return to the word you chose. Practicing this every day will make you better at it, and you will be able to reap all the benefits with consistency.
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Journaling is a great way to write your thoughts and plan your day. It has similar benefits to meditation. In fact, journaling was found to reduce stress and depression, boost the immune system, and improve memory among many other benefits. You can write whatever comes to mind. Think of it as a thought download. This should also not take more than 10 minutes.
Meditation and journaling can also be moved to a different time of the day for busy individuals with similar benefits. If you are very busy, consider meditation in the morning and journaling in the evening.
Taking a cold shower has many benefits for kidney patients. It increases endorphins and fights off depression, and it improves metabolism and circulation. Most importantly, it stimulates the vagus nerve and improves renal circulation. It may also soothe itchy skin, which is common in CKD patients. Cold showers help with post-workout muscle soreness. The benefits of a cold shower begin when the water temperature dips to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. This is 40 degrees lower than the typical steamy shower.
Now, I know it will be hard to turn that shower knob from hot to cold in the morning. The way to do it is to start with your hot shower. Then gradually lower the temperature at the end of the shower every day by turning the knob to cold. Give your body time to adjust. You can start with 30 seconds under the cold and gradually increase it to a maximum of three minutes. A quick shower for kidney health takes 10 minutes.
A good plant-based breakfast can be a super healthy way to start your day. A plant-based or plant-dominant diet has been linked to better kidney health and to slow the progression of kidney disease. There are many options that you can prepare in less than 10 minutes or plan the day before. You can find a few recipes in this e-book.
The bottom line
Your kidneys and health deserve an hour from you every morning. This morning routine can improve kidney health and help slow the progression of early kidney disease. If you’re wondering how to heal kidneys, this routine could serve as the first step, or it could be all you need for heathier kidneys. You can modify it to fit your schedule so that you’re at least doing some of the suggested morning actions every day. If you’ve been wondering how to improve kidney function, this morning routine is an important step in the right direction.