Salt and the Kidney
Eating all the right things and exercising frequently yet still health issues trouble you? In youth you were full of vitality but in later years your feeling a change? Maybe your hair is thinning, your back aches and your memory is fogging. Perhaps your kidney needs assistance.
In Chinese Medicine, the kidney controls the ‘essence’ of our bodies. This essence is closely related to what our parents have passed on to us at birth. ‘Essence’ is about genetics and our innate constitution. So whether we are born robust and strong or thin and slender or whether we have big feet or a big nose, whatever the case, our kidneys are responsible.
Tip: The kidney is belongs to the water element and salty taste in TCM. A good way to ensure good absorption of water in the body is to have a grain of sea salt before you drink water.
The kidney controls the cycle of life and the aging process from birth to child, adolescent to middle age and elderly to death. Unlike energies of other organs, the kidney essence is finite; what you were born with will last you for life as it slowly declines. For this reason, elderly people will often have a lower kidney function.
Have you ever noticed in nursing homes that elderly will desire salty food?
Their sense of taste is declining and salt is the most easily recognizable flavor for them. When it comes to the kidney we aim to ‘maintain’ and ‘preserve’ what we were born with.
The renin-angiotensin system in western medicine plays a large part in regulating absorption in the kidneys tubules. When aldosterone is released it causes the kidneys to reabsorb more sodium or salt into the blood stream and control blood pressure. This is just one correlation that demonstrates the relationship between the kidneys and the flavor of salt.
So are you one of those people that dive into the salty rice crackers or feel the need to have olives as a savory snack? Or perhaps you prefer salted nut mixes? Whatever the case your kidneys may need help.
Classic symptoms of a kidney disharmony include sore knees and lower back, frequent urination particularly at night, greying hair and poor memory. Conditions related to kidney disharmony include menopause, chronic fatigue and infertility. In addition to the aging process kidney disharmonies are also responsible for genetic conditions or birth defects for example down-syndrome, autism and muscular dystrophy.
Tip: Try eating some slightly salty foods to nourish your kidneys. Oysters, sardines, black beans and walnuts are specifically good foods. Also, try some salted cucumber traditionally used in Russia. This acts as an electrolyte and helps to keep you hydrated. Other foods that can assist your kidney function include black sesame and chestnuts.
But remember! No food in excess is ever beneficial. Listen to your body and feel what it needs, a craving for salt is a good diagnostic method to enhance your understanding of where an imbalance may lie in your body, however; a high salt intake can be harmful.
Moderation is the key.