Whether you're an avid matcha drinker or a novice who has just begun your tea journey, you are likely aware of the many health benefits of matcha tea. But maybe you've asked the question—is matcha tea bad for your kidneys? The short answer: No! Studies suggest matcha green tea is good for your kidney health. So let's dive into the whys and clarify why drinking matcha daily may help keep your kidneys in tip-top shape.
What has sparked concern over drinking tea and kidney health?
Oxalates — which are naturally occurring substances found in plants (including teas) have been a hot topic in the health sphere lately — especially concerning kidneys and the potential for kidney stones. This is because when our oxalate levels are high in the body, there's a chance it will bind to calcium, which can then lead to the formation of kidney stones.
Excessive amounts of oxalates in the diet may even prevent your body from absorbing other beneficial nutrients in your digestive tract — which has made some people ask the question — should they limit their tea consumption for their kidney health if they've had any kidney health issues?
Matcha —which is a high-quality form of green tea — comes with a long list of health benefits and has much fewer oxalates than black tea varieties or other plant sources.
For example, it is an anti-inflammatory, high in antioxidants, gives you calm and steady energy, may improve fertility, boost brain function, help you lose weight, and may even help to prevent cancer...the list of health benefits for matcha could go on and on, but we will turn our focus kidneys health.
What are kidneys, and what's their function in the body?
So what exactly are kidneys, and what do they do?
Kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs that sit just below your rib cage, behind your belly button, and on either side of your spine. They are each roughly the size of a fist and play a vital role in filtering the blood of waste, controlling fluid balance, and regulating electrolytes.
Each of your kidneys is made up of about a million nephrons. Each nephron has a filter, which comprises a glomerulus and a tubule. The glomerulus filters the blood of waste while also adjusting salt, water, and minerals as needed. The tubules then return the blood back to the rest of your body. Any waste removed by the kidneys is then turned into urine and eventually excreted.
For two small organs, they have a BIG impact on our body and day-to-day functioning. For example, did you know that all of the blood in your body passes through your kidneys about 40 times A DAY?
And incredibly, you only need a small percentage of your kidney to function. You could have just 10% of your kidney working, and you may not even notice any symptoms or problems.
What are common health issues people experience with their kidneys?
There are quite a few diseases that can impact your kidneys, especially since your kidneys come into contact with (and are responsible for filtering out) harmful waste in our bodies. Let's dive into the two most common kidney conditions: kidney stones and chronic kidney disease (CKD).
Kidney stones develop when minerals in urine begin to form crystals, which may, in turn, block urine flow. (which is incredibly painful) They usually form due to a build-up of particular chemicals in the body. Kidney stones can result from insufficient water or other fluids and may also be triggered by certain medical conditions or diseases.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is when the kidneys become damaged and can no longer filter blood as well as they should. There are four stages of CKD, and if left untreated, the condition can lead to stroke, heart disease, and even death. The most common risk factors associated with CKD are diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and obesity.
The good news is – these are all risk factors that matcha has been scientifically suggested to reduce and decrease.
Matcha's positive impact on kidney health and risk factors
Multiple studies have confirmed that green tea (which matcha is a powdered, highly concentrated form) not only helps to prevent cardiovascular diseases but also obesity and type II diabetes.
This is important to point out because as we just discussed, diabetes and heart disease are two of the leading causes of chronic kidney disease.
In one study, subjects had a 33% risk reduction of developing type 2 diabetes after consuming six or more cups of green tea daily. These results have been attributed to EGCG, matcha's most abundant form of catechins.
Functioning kidneys also require having normal blood pressure, as hypertension is a risk factor and a symptom of kidney disease. Researchers have found that matcha may help to regulate blood pressure levels and has also been shown to decrease high blood pressure.
Oxidative stress, or chronic inflammation, may also lead to chronic kidney disease – and matcha is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and may slow and even reverse oxidative stress in the body. Matcha is also high in polyphenols, which can decrease cancer risk- including kidney cancer.
Other studies have shown that matcha might even be able to protect against kidney toxicity. Kidney toxicity happens when a drug or other toxins cause damage to your kidneys.
For example, one study investigated the effects of matcha by orally administering matcha for 16 weeks to rats. The study's results suggest that matcha protects against hepatic and renal damage due to its potent antioxidant properties.
How can you improve your kidney function overall? (Cue Matcha!)
Lifestyle and dietary choices play a big role in kidney health – and drinking matcha daily is a wonderfully impactful way to make a small change in your daily routine but a big impact on your health. That being said, there are definitely other things that have been well-studied you can do on a day-to-day basis to keep your kidneys in tip-top shape or help your recover faster from a kidney stone or CKD.
Other lifestyle factors that are important for your kidney health besides drinking matcha include:
- Eating an anti-inflammatory diet with an abundance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, teas, and spices is especially helpful.
- Aim for a healthy weight.
- Be active! Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days.
- Limit your alcohol consumption.
- Quit smoking.
- Get at least 7-8 hours of restful, restorative sleep each night.
- Manage any health conditions you might have, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
The bottom line: Drinking a cup of matcha daily may help improve your kidney health and overall well-being.
Matcha is safe for individuals with kidney disease and may even be very helpful in preventing kidney disease and benefiting your overall health. There are several risk factors that can lead to kidney disease that daily matcha drinking may help manage. These include diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, and obesity.
And remember – When it comes to getting the most benefits you can from matcha for your kidney health, an essential factor is ensuring you are enjoying high-quality matcha! You can check out our ceremonial grade matcha and accessories here.
Already have some of our matcha at home? So go ahead, enjoy your nice cup of matcha, and know that your kidneys are thanking you!
This article is written with Diana Weil, Matcha.com's Integrative Nutritionist and Food Relationship Specialist.
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