Nutrition: Kidney Cancer

Tuesday 08 May 2018


This month I am going to look at look at the role of nutrition and lifestyle with kidney cancer. As with all the blogs I have written, if you are considering making any changes, I would always recommend reading the blog I wrote on the ‘ideal diet’ first as this will give you a good understanding of the ideal way of eating. This is obviously dependent on your digestive system, appetite and energy levels for preparing and cooking food. Here is a link to the blog 'The Balanced Plate'. but always remember to just do what you can and make simple, not drastic changes.

When looking at how to support the body, it is of course always important to look at what constitutes a healthy diet and the best ways we can to support our immune system.

There are increasing levels of research when looking at cancer of the kidney, linking the overall toxin levels of the body to impaired functioning of the kidney and damage to the cells of the kidneys. This research suggests the more we can decrease our levels of toxins, the more supportive it is for the functioning of the kidneys. As our kidneys are the filter system for the body, this approach does seem logical.

The process of decreasing our toxin levels became very popular a number of years ago, when it almost seemed fashionable to go on a ‘detox’ and many celebrities started bringing out their own version of a detox programme. To support the functioning of your kidneys, it doesn’t mean you have to go on one of these ‘detox’ programmes, but instead you can start to go through a bit of a checklist to see where your body might be getting a high exposure to toxins and then start to bring these down.

Increased toxin exposure can come from chemical exposure at work for example, if you work with heavy metals, or toxic substances. It can come from pollution, cigarette smoking and high alcohol intake. Other toxins can actually come from the products we use – both cosmetic and household products, and finally it can also come from the herbicides and pesticides that are present on the food we eat.

That is quite a list isn’t it? This doesn’t mean that you suddenly have to move house to avoid pollution and only buy organic fruits and vegetables if you can’t afford them. Instead, it is thinking about which changes you can easily make and doing these first – this could be as simple as quitting smoking or reducing your alcohol intake.

When using cosmetic products, it is always worth considering which ones are naturally made, especially looking out for deodorants that do not contain parabens or PCBs. These may be more expensive than the more commercial brands but will start to lower the amount of toxins that will be absorbed straight into your bloodstream to be filtered by the kidneys.

The world of organic vs non-organic produce can be very confusing with different research stating different answers as to whether you should go organic or not. The two main arguments regarding going organic are that the pesticides found on the fruits and vegetables can be termed ‘endocrine disruptors’ meaning that once in the body, they have the potential to disrupt our hormone levels. The other argument is their toxic impact on our detoxification organs such as the liver and kidney, and the potential damage they can do.

Whilst the research does support the fact that the pesticides do have the potential to have this impact, the jury is still out as to whether the levels of pesticides that are left on our fruits on our fruits and vegetables are strong enough to demonstrate this damage as they are tightly regulated. So what do you do? Well, many people think that as there is still a potential risk and it is something that you can control, removing pesticides and going organic is a positive thing. For other people, going organic is not an option because of the cost or availability.

A number of years ago, a group called ‘the environmental working group’ decided to assess how many pesticides are actually left on the food we consume and came up with 2 lists – the clean 15 and the dirty dozen. The clean fifteen are the 15 different fruits and vegetables that have the least pesticide residue left on them and the dirty dozen are the ones which have the greatest pesticide residue left on them. You could always choose to start by changing the dirty dozen first and ignoring the clean 15, and anything in between would be a bonus if you were able to change.

Here is the list for you:

The clean fifteen

1. Onions

2. Corn

3. Pineapples

4. Avocado

5. Asparagus

6. Sweet peas

7. Mangoes

8. Eggplant ( aubergine)

9. Cantaloupe

10. Kiwi

11. Cabbage

12. Watermelon

13. Sweet potato

14. Grapefruit

15. Mushrooms

The Dirty Dozen

1. Apples

2. Celery

3. Strawberries

4. Peaches

5. Spinach

6. Nectarines

7. Grapes

8. Sweet Bell Peppers

9. Potatoes

10. Blueberries

11. Kale/ Collard Greens

12. Lettuce

This information is taken from the Environmental working group. You can read about the report and findings in more detail, including the levels of pesticides found in the foods listed above. 


Blog originally written by Caroline March 2018 - links updated 2021

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