The Function Of The Kidneys
- ABCs of Health – “K’ is for Kidneys
- Back to the Basics – Follow the Food Guide
- Tip of the Month – ” Is your baking soda fresh?
- The Herbalist – “V” is for Valerian
How your kidneys work
“K” is for Kidneys. Your kidneys may be small, about the size of your fist. In humans the kidneys are two small organs located near the vertebral column at the small of the back. The left kidney lies a little higher that the right kidney. They are bean-shaped, about 4 in. (10 cm.) long and about 2 1/2 in. (6.4 cm.) wide. They perform many vital functions that help maintain your overall health, including filtering wastes and excess fluids from your blood. Every day, the kidneys filter about 200 quarts of fluid. About two quarts leave the body in the form of urine, while the remainder is retained in the body. In addition to filtering wastes from the blood, the kidneys also perform these important jobs:
- release hormones that help regulate blood pressure
- control the production of red blood cells
- produce the necessary nutrients and vitaminns that control growth
The main purpose of the kidney is to separate urea, mineral salts, toxins, and other waste products form the blood. Kidneys conserve water, salts, and electrolytes. At least one kidney must function properly for life to be maintained.
BACK TO THE BASICS – FOLLOW THE FOOD GUIDE
Taste, health and convenience are the main trends driving consumers’ food choices. Consumers care about their health but they want great tasting food. They are concerned about eating a well balanced and varied diet. Fat, salt, sugar, cholesterol, fibre and nutrient content of food choices are key concerns.
A balanced and nutritional meal starts with a good foundation. We suggest Hemp seed oil as it is an excellent choice because of its balance and versatility. Clear hemp oil is the most perfect of vegetable oils. Properly used, clear hemp oil can promote the same health and life style benefits as hemp hearts. Hemp seed oil is made from only from the inner parts of the hemp seed. It is higher in essential fatty acids (EFA) than other oils, yet has the lowest amount of undesirable saturated and mono-unsaturated fats. Although hemp oil does not have the protein content of hemp hearts, many other high protein foods and valuable non protein foods can be enhanced nutritionally by preparing them with clear hemp cooking and salad oil.
NOTE: Do not substitute Hemp oil with cooking or frying oils. Hemp seed oils are rendered unfit for human consumption by heating above 150 degrees C (300 degrees F). Doing this, will result in the production of unhealthy fatty acids and an increased peroxide level.
Follow this basic food guide:
|Grain Products||Vegetables and Fruit||Milk Products||Meat and Alternatives|
|Choose whole grain and enriched products more often.||Choose dark green and orange vegetables and orange fruit more often.||Choose lower-fat milk products more often.||Choose leaner meats, poultry and fish, as well as dried peas, beans and lentils more often.|
Lack of time is one of the biggest barriers to healthy eating. In the 60’s the average meal took 2 ½ hours to make. Today, over 65% of women get weekday meals on the table in less than 45 minutes.
Try these tips:
Slow cookers and crock pots are back in style and safe to use. Prepare your meal, cook overnite or during the day. Presto! A nutritious meal awaits you and your family when you arrive home.
Use multipurpose dishes and bowls to cook, serve and refrigerate leftover food. The less dishes to wash the better.
Try cooking extra rice or noodles. Use them in tomorrow’s supper casserole, salad, or stir fry.
Make double batches of recipes on the weekend and freeze extras for another night’s quick meal. Label the container and use when possible so that you don’t forget it is there.
Use pre cut or pre measured ingredients to save preparation time. Lower fat pre-made items such as soups, sandwiches, quiches and pastas are available in the grocery store and take out restaurants. Add a glass of milk, a salad or other side dishes to round out the meal.
TIP OF THE MONTH
Test baking soda for freshness by adding a spoonful of soda to a cup of vinegar or lemon juice. If it “fizzes” it’s still active.
I promised I would give you some information on a specific herb, it’s origins and uses. I really enjoy this part of our newsletter, as I always learn something new and exciting. This month we will discuss:
Latin Name: Valeriana officinalis (Valerianaceae [valerian] family)
General Description: Valerian is a perennial plant native to Europe and Northern Asia. It grows to approximately four feet (120 centimeters) tall, and bears pinnate leaves and pink flower heads. The root is the part of the plant used in herbal medicine. Valerian root must be carefully dried at temperatures below 105 degrees F (40 degrees C) before use. The taste is both sweet and spicy, and somewhat bitter, but the odor is unpleasant.
Valerian has been used medicinally since the time of Hippocrates (406-377 B.C.E.). Ancient medical texts refer to the unpleasant odor of the herb by naming it phu.
Excellent For: Valerian is a tranquilizer and calmative, useful for disorders such as restlessness, nervousness, insomnia, hysteria, menstrual problems, headaches, and nervous stomach. It is also good for circulation. Valerian alkaloids have also been known to lower blood pressure.
Benefits of Valerian for specific conditions include the following:
Anxiety, insomnia, menopause-related problems, and restless legs syndrome: Large-scale scientific studies have confirmed valerian’s ability to improve the quality of sleep and relieve insomnia, especially the insomnia that sometimes accompanies menopause. Dozens of over-the-counter sleep aids contain valerian. A double blind study with 128 participants showed that taking a water based extract of valerian both improved subjective ratings of sleep quality and reduced sleep latency – the time required to fall asleep. Valerian relieves insomnia without causing grogginess or “hangover” the next morning.
A follow up study found that valerian was as effective in inducing sleep as barbiturates such as pentobarbital and benzodiazepines such as chlordiazepoxide (Librium). These drugs cause morning sleepiness. Valerian, in contrast, reduced morning sleepiness. The difference, apparently, was that valerian appeared to be non-addictive and its effects seemed to be milder.
Valerian has a much more pronounced effect when used by people with chronic insomnia than when used by people whose sleeping difficulties are temporary. It is especially suitable for older adults who fall asleep relatively easily but have difficulty staying asleep throughout the night. In addition, this herb relieves panic attacks that occur at night. One clinical study found that using valerian together with St. John’s wort was an effective alternative to diazepam (Valium). Researchers say that a combination of hops and valerian may be as effective a benzodiazepine medications (the group of drugs that includes Valium) for non-chronic and non-psychiatric sleep disorders.
Indigestion: Valerian relaxes the muscles of the digestive tract when under stress. It soothes the digestive system and relieves some types of indigestion, constipation, and stomach cramps, especially when these problems are due to nervous tension.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) : Naturopathic physicians sometimes prescribe valerian as one of a combination of herbs useful for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. One of the chemicals produced when valerian is processed is valerenic acid. It not only encourages sleep, but also helps to stop muscle spasms. Although valerenic acid makes sleeping easier, it does not force sleep by inducing drowsiness.
CONTRAINDICATIONS: Valerian is available in the form of valepotriate tablets and as tinctures. The herb can also be made into tea. In its natural state, valerian contains a compound known to aid sleep – its essential oil. For this reason, valerian preparations used for insomnia usually state their essential oil content. However, if valerian is combined with herbs such as hops, and lemon balm (melissa), a different set of chemicals is responsible for the promotion of sleep. In these compounds, the content of essential oil is not important.
People who use valerian for several months may experience withdrawal symptoms (agitation, headache, insomnia, and racing heart) if they abruptly stop using the herb. Used by itself, valerian is almost always free of side effects, although it can increase side effects of barbiturates and tranquilizers such as alprazolam (Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), diazepam (Valium), or lorazepam (Ativan).
Symptoms of overdose may include paralysis, weakening of the heartbeat, giddiness, light – headedness, blurred vision, restlessness, nausea, and possibly, liver toxicity. Valerian should not be used with prescription medications such as diazepam (Valium), or amitriptyline (Elavil), or with sedative or anti-depressent drugs without first consulting your physician. Do NOT continue taking valerian if you experience heart palpitations or nervousness. This herb should not be given to children under the age of twelve. It should not be taken with alcohol, or used by pregnant women or nursing mothers. Research indicates that valerian does not impair one’s ability to drive a car or operate machinery. However, there does appear to be some impairment of attention for a couple of hours after taking valerian. For this reason, it is not a good idea to drive immediatly after taking it.
This concludes another exciting issue of Natural Health. REMEMBER YOU HAVE TO READ TO WIN!