Published September 25, 2013
When we think of eating to increase sex drive, we tend to look to “aphrodisiac” foods like oysters, bananas, almonds, figs and avocados. But when trying to resolve ongoing low libido, according to ancient Chinese medicine, it might be time to look at the kidney system.
The kidney system, which encompasses the physical kidneys, adrenal glands, bladder, and kidney and bladder meridians, is responsible for storing our essence and is the source of yin and yang in the body, according to traditional Eastern medicine practices. This system is considered the most important system in the body to Eastern medicine practitioners, because they believe it governs growth, maturation, sexual function, fertility and aging.
In this light, ancient Chinese medicine teaches that eating foods that support kidney function can help restore sexual virility.
So here are seven foods can help support healthy kidney function.
1. Sea vegetables are said to strengthen kidney energy. They are rich in vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron and iodine and have balancing and cleansing properties that can benefit the kidneys. Try adding kombu when cooking beans, rice and even oatmeal, make a wakame and carrot salad or sprinkle dulse on top of your food as a seasoning.
2. Adzuki beans originate in China, where local medicine states they are great for strengthening the reproductive organs, kidneys and bladder. This bean has a diuretic effect on the body, which helps the body excrete toxins, and excess uric acid, helping to clear up kidney problems. Eating as little as half a cup per week can help you reap the health benefits, but you should aim for double if you are experiencing a kidney-related problem.
3. Cranberries have been used to fight illness and infection for hundreds of years, including bladder and kidney problems. This little berry is loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants like proanthocyandins and polyphenols. They also contain flavonoids, which target the bacteria that latch themselves to the urinary tract, by weakening them so that they can be flushed out in the urine instead of proliferating an infection inside the body. Aim for two to four 8-ounce glasses of unsweetened, organic, cranberry juice per day in addition to eight glasses of unflavored water.
4. Microalgae such as spirulina, blue algae and chlorella have been found to be effective in reducing kidney toxicity. Supplementing with these super foods can help purify the blood and cleanse the body’s elimination systems, while balancing the body’s pH level. Ridding the body of unnecessary toxins can help strengthen the kidneys. Since they have such powerful detoxification capabilities, always begin supplementation with a very low dose and gradually increase to a tolerated level.
5. Clams are said to clear “heat” in the body, which comes from a lack of moistening and cooling functions, and can weaken the kidneys. According to traditional Chinese medicine, freshwater clams can nourish kidneys.
6. Umeboshi plums are Japanese pickled plums known for their medicinal qualities. They have a strong acidity, which has the opposite effect on the body- providing an alkalinizing effect. It is also known to neutralize fatigue, stimulate digestion and promote the elimination of toxins, therefore helping to unburden the kidneys and help strengthen them. These sour plums can be eaten as a condiment for rice dishes, and umeboshi plum vinegar makes a great salad topper.
7. Homemade bone broth is frequently used in Chinese medicine to strengthen the kidneys. Turkey, fish, pig, chicken or cow bones can be used and simply need to simmer in water, with your choice of herbs and vegetables, for several hours. The longer the bones simmer the more they are broken down, releasing all the available nutrients and minerals. It can be eaten as a simple snack or used to prepare rice, beans, soups, meats and casseroles, and can be easily frozen for later use.
Besides eating a nourishing diet of kidney-strengthening food, lifestyle changes may be able to further help. Set aside some time each day to unwind and decrease stress through things like exercise, tai chi, herbal medicine, acupuncture and meditation. Slowing down and finding balance in your life will help strengthen and replenish the kidneys and restore libido.