HEALTHY KIDNEYS = STRONG IMMUNITY: What You Need to Know About Your Kidneys and Your Immune System

Your immune system and your kidneys are intricately linked

In health, your kidneys maintain vital physical functions such as body temperature, body fluid balance, and nutrient and mineral preservation.  But when these essential checks and balances fail due to poor eating habits, overwork, and stress, our immune system begins to weaken.

So what is the connection?

Put simply, your kidneys are very sophisticated waste disposal units which clean your blood and sort non-recyclable waste from recyclable waste, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  

Most of the waste the kidneys deal with is produced by the body as it processes the foods and drinks you consume.  Healthy kidneys act as a filter to make sure the right amount and type of wastes and fluids are removed. Every hour the blood supply circulates through your kidneys about 12 times, so that each day your kidneys process around 200 litres of blood, with around 1 to 2 litres of waste finally leaving your body as urine.

If your kidneys are functioning well then they will also produce three vital immune supporting hormones:

  • Erythropoietin, which stimulates the production of red blood cells.  Red blood cells contain the essential mineral Iron and are a formidable part of the innate immune system - your immediate response to foreign invaders.  They can generate an immediate response with antimicrobial antioxidants to defend against invading microbes, and to prevent inflammatory activity in the body.  
  • Renin, which controls blood pressure by increasing or decreasing body fluids.  Some infections raise body temperature, causing aggravating fevers and high blood pressure, Renin is essential in balancing these symptoms.
  • Active vitamin D, otherwise known as Cholecalciferol.  Vitamin D controls both the innate (immediate) and adaptive (long term) immune systems. It appears that vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased vulnerability to infections.

The connection between women’s hormones and kidney health

Prior to menopause women enjoy extra protection of their kidney health and function from their female hormones Oestrogen and Oestradiol.  This is called the “female protective factor” and is due to the high levels of Oestrogen receptor sites present in female kidney cells. Oestrogen beneficially supports the function of kidney cells by regulating blood flow, maintaining good mineral levels, and protecting against high blood pressure. Consequently, maintaining good natural oestrogen levels is vital for the continued good health and immunity of women as they progress through menopause.

Foods and Lifestyle Habits for Kidney Health

According to traditional Chinese medicine dietary therapy, Kidney Yin and Yang must be supported with a healthful lifestyle and diet if long term well-being is to be achieved.  Even today Chinese medicine practitioners recommend the following program:  

  • Maintain healthy weight levels with regular exercise and sensible eating habits
  • Support healthy blood pressure by reducing stress levels and maintaining a restorative sleep pattern
  • Keep alcohol and caffeine for special occasions and enjoy refreshing ginger, corn silk, lemon, and green teas daily
  • Eat delicious multi-coloured fruits and vegetables every day, especially cooling melons in summer and warming onions, spring onions, leeks, and radishes in winter
  • Nourish with soups and stews containing bone broth, barley, peas, beans, and lentils
  • Add beneficial oils by including daily nuts and seeds of all kinds (unsalted)
  • Source protein from oily fish (such as sardines, tuna, and salmon), and soybeans (as tofu and tempeh), cottage cheese, and egg dishes

Ganoderma / Reishi Mushroom – the superior Kidney supporting herb

Safety from infection is a concern for many whether working or travelling.  Ganoderma or Reishi mushrooms contain many of the vital nutrient factors required to support optimum kidney and immune system health and function.  Used for hundreds of years in the orient as a tonic and warming herb, Ganoderma mushrooms contain nourishing polysaccharides and oils which aid the production of immune supporting antibodies and antioxidants.  Women in menopause especially benefit from the hormonal balancing and anti-inflammatory properties of Ganoderma.


The role of the immune system in kidney disease, Clin Exp Immunol. 2018

Principles of Innate and Adaptive Immunity. Janeway et al,Immunobiology: The Immune System in Health and Disease. Garland Science; 2001.

Estrogens and the Kidney, Christy et al, Department of Medicine, The Roosevelt Hospital, and the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York.

Food therapy and medical diet therapy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Clinical Nutrition Experimental, 2018, Qunli et al.

Immunomodulating Activities of Ganoderma, A Mushroom with Medicinal Properties. Yihai Gao et al.  Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health, Massey University, New Zealand.

Antibacterial and antiviral value of the genus Ganoderma P. Karst Species: A Review.  Yihai Gao et al.  Department of Pharmacy, Faculty of Science, National University of Singapore.