Your kidney’s are very sensitive and are critical to sustaining life. They are so important you have two of them. However, each kidney is fully equipped to perform all of the essential functions and you could live with only one. They are located at your upper lower back, protected by the lowest ribs. The inner structures of the kidneys are intricate and allow for several important functions.
The kidneys functions are:
- Filtering your blood
- Producing and releasing hormones
- Removing waste and excess water from your blood
- Regulating blood pressure
As you may know your blood is the life sustaining and ever moving fluid in your body. It delivers oxygen from the air you breathe in, and nutrients that you consume or produce to every one of your 75 trillion living cells. This is only half of its job. As it moves through your body performing its delivery functions, it also takes away metabolic waste. This is where the kidneys begin their vital functions of filtering and reabsorbing material from your blood. Fluids that your body can not absorb, like alcohol, are filtered out and excreted. Your blood is filtered through your kidneys at a rate of about 200 quarts a day. This blood is then re-circulated back into the blood system for continuous use. Only about 2 quarts of this fluid is excreted as the toxic fluid – urine. In fact, the kidneys are so important that your heart sends 20% of the blood it pumps directly to the kidneys.
The kidneys have direct contact with the blood, and they can tell if you are dehydrated. The kidneys will retain water as opposed to excreting it in the urine. This allows the body to reuse water already in the body and monitor the bodily fluids for unhealthy levels of dilution. It is essential to have a sufficient level of hydration in the body; otherwise the kidneys are not able to properly clear the body of toxins and waste products. This is important to keep in mind since having too much to drink can lead to a “washing out” effect, flushing the body of nerve stimulating electrolytes. You need electrolytes in order for your body to perform motor functions. Consuming sufficient water and the corresponding electrolytes is crucial for those seeking to maintain sufficient blood liquidity and nutrient status for optimal existence and healthy aging.
The kidneys excrete 3 different hormones:
- Renin – this hormone regulates blood pressure by making adjustments to the speed and flow of the blood using sodium and water re-absorption. Your kidneys filter your bodily fluids by using blood pressure, if you have low blood pressure it produces hormones that tell your body to dilate your blood vessels to increase blood pressure.
- Erythropoietin – is a hormone that regulates the red blood cells. If the liver detects the oxygen level in the blood is low it releases this hormone and signals the red bone marrow to produce more red blood cells. This hormone is important for those who have depleted levels of red blood cells, or anemia.
- Calcitriol – the kidneys can produce this hormone, an active form of Vitamin D, to help the body build bone material.
This hormonal activity maintains the well oiled machine we call the urinary system. Without your kidneys health it would not be able to keep up with the high demand of fluid exchange.
As was mentioned previously, the kidneys are sensitive. With all the complex actions the kidneys perform on a minute to minute basis, there are two main causes of kidney failure. These two causes are; poison and pressure. A good example of a poison that causes kidney failure is sugar. Diabetes is a disease that has deficient insulin levels, and insulin helps the body absorb sugar. Sugar is highly taxing on your system, and if it stays in your body it can short circuit your urinary system. In other words sugar is toxic especially to those people who have diabetes. The other cause is pressure; it can come from your cardiovascular system being overtaxed. Your kidneys naturally use pressure to filter the blood, if you have high blood pressure it overpowers your kidneys and can cause them to fail. Since there are many things that can contribute to high blood pressure, it is important to maintain a healthy cardiac system.
Preventative measures are incredibly important to prevent kidney failure or disease. It may take a very long time to show signs of diminished kidney health, and when you do show signs it may be at the end stages.
If symptoms do occur it may be:
- Loss of blood, or anemia
- Irregular nerve stimulation due to loss of electrolytes
- Loss of bone and immune health due to insufficient vitamin D
- Irregular urination; increased urination or extremely diminished urination, pale or blood in the urine.
- Edema or fluid retention specifically in the lower limbs.
- Itching from excess toxins in the body.
- Nausea and/or vomiting
If any of these sounds familiar it is important to immediately seek medical advice. Otherwise, seriously consider taking care of your hard working kidneys. Limit your exposure to poisons and risk factors for your cardiovascular system such as the “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)
One of the most common conditions that can occur to the kidneys is Urinary Tract Infection, or UTI. This occurs from an infection that begins in your urethra or bladder and travels towards your kidneys. Men can get it although not as easily as women, since their urethra is much longer than a woman’s. Signs and symptoms of this are quite common especially to woman:
- Strong urgency to urinate
- Lack of urine despite need to urinate
- Pain during urination
- Mid to low back pain
- Pain an/or pressure in the abdomen
If you think you might have a urinary tract infection you should seek medical advice. Generally, antibiotics will be prescribed to fight the bacterial infection. In medical research, cranberry juice has been beneficial in changing the pH balance of the urine to an acidic environment, and helping prevent bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall. Changing the acidity of the urine discourages bacteria growth. It is also highly advised to flush the body with clean, clear water. In order to correctly determine if you have a UTI, your doctor will take a urinalysis.
Other helpful tips can be:
Drink plenty of water, at least 64-72 ounces a day.
Avoid holding your bladder, urinate as you need to.
Drink a glass of water before and after intercourse.
Urinate directly after intercourse.
Take showers instead of baths. If you bathe, the longer you soak the easier it will be to get an infection.
For women: Do not use douches or other feminine genital cleansing products.
Keeping a healthy urinary system can head off many unhealthy and life hindering conditions. It has been recommended by leading medical experts that everyone can benefit from taking a high-quality and complete daily multi-vitamin. Few people actually eat a sufficiently healthy and broad diet to ensure the adequate intake of nutrients for all the biochemical processes necessary to not just sustain the human body but to help it truly thrive.
The key to maintaining healthy kidneys is to ensure proper hydration and that when you have the urge to urinate; you do so within a few minutes in order to eliminate waste and toxins. Retaining fluid for excess periods of time can increase the likelihood for infection. It is also essential that excess protein is not consumed since high protein diets can be hard on the kidneys, especially when there is insufficient hydration. Urinating after intercourse is important for both sexes as well, to lessen infections.
Your kidneys are about the size of your fist and are located in the mid abdomen, posterior to your intestines. They have many important bodily functions including; regulating blood pressure, producing specific hormones, filtering the blood, re-absorbing nutrients and water, and concentrating urine. The kidneys perform their functions based on a well organized system. If this system breaks down it can cause problems like kidney failure, cancer, and diminished blood filtering which can lead to build up of toxic metabolic waste or fluid retention. Your microcirculation plays a vital role in the health of your kidneys. Maintaining healthy blood flow and low levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol can be a very beneficial to your overall kidney health.
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