Healthy Kidneys, Healthy You!
I will always live to remember the excruciating pains Hilary experienced due to kidney failure! How can I forget his swollen stomach and legs, his constant groanings, and his frequent visits to the hospital? Even though Hilary was a professional in the medical field, there was little anyone could do when the doctor confirmed that his kidneys had malfunctioned. After months of trying to manage his health with little progress, Hilary died from complications of his kidney failure. He was about 40 years when he died, leaving behind a wife and two young kids. After witnessing Hilary’s story, I always ask myself and everyone else: ‘what are you doing to protect your kidneys?‘
Most people are aware that every human has an organ called Kidney, but only a relative few know its importance. Indeed, not many people are conscious of the fact that certain lifestyle habits can affect the different organs in the human body. Sadly, millions of people die globally each year from kidney problems – including many people you may know personally. So let’s review some factors relating to the kidney, including its functions and how to protect your kidneys properly.
Functions of The Kidneys
The kidneys are two reddish-brown bean-shaped organs found in vertebrates. AS the illustration above shows, they are located on the left and right in the retroperitoneal space. They receive blood from the two renal arteries; blood exits into the two renal veins. Each kidney is attached to a ureter, a tube that carries excreted urine to the bladder.
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The kidneys perform their life-sustaining job of filtering and returning to the bloodstream about 200 liters of fluid every 24 hours. About two liters are removed from the body in the form of urine, and about 198 quarts are recovered. All of the blood in your body passes through them several times a day. Blood comes into the kidney, waste gets removed, and salt, water, and minerals are balanced. The filtered blood goes back into the body. Waste gets turned into urine, which eventually drains down to the ureter into the bladder.
According to Kidney Organization, the kidneys are powerful chemical factories that perform the following functions:
Remove waste products from the body;
Eliminate drugs from the body;
Balance the body’s fluids;
Release hormones that regulate blood pressure;
Produce an active form of vitamin D that promotes strong, healthy bones;
Control the production of red blood cells.
Most people know that the main functions of the kidneys in the human body, but are unaware of common habits that might be putting pressure on your kidneys. Avoiding these damaging behaviors can contribute to healthy kidneys. Here are a few of them.
Overusing Painkillers – Drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, and Ketoprofen contain painkilling ingredients that have been linked to kidney disease. Therefore, use these drugs wisely.
Eating Processed Foods – Some studies have shown that high phosphorus intake from processed foods in people without kidney disease may be harmful to their kidneys and bones. Instead, eat more of fresh foods.
Not Drinking Enough Water – Taking plenty of water helps your kidneys clear sodium and toxins from the body, and is also one of the best ways to avoid painful kidney stones. Drinking 1.5 to 2 liters of water per day is a healthy target.
Missing Out on Sleep – A good night’s rest is extremely important to your overall well-being, including your kidneys. Kidney function is regulated by the sleep-wake cycle which helps coordinate the kidneys’ workload over 24 hours.
Eating Too Much Meat – Animal protein generates high amounts of acid in the blood that can be harmful to the kidneys. Protein is important for the body, but your diet should be well balanced with fruits and vegetables.
Eating Too Many Foods High in Sugar – Sugar contributes to obesity which increases your risk of developing high blood pressure and diabetes, two of the leading causes of kidney disease. Eat wisely with every meal.
Heavy Drinking Alcohol & Smoking – Smokers who are heavy drinkers have about five times the chance of developing chronic kidney disease than people who don’t smoke or drink alcohol to excess.
Warning Signs of Kidney Problem
When your kidneys lose their filtering ability, dangerous levels of wastes may accumulate, and your blood’s chemical makeup may get out of balance. Here are signs that your kidneys may have problems, according to Mayo Clinic:
- Decreased urine output, although occasionally urine output remains normal
- Fluid retention, causing swelling in your legs, ankles or feet
- Shortness of breath
- Irregular heartbeat
- Chest pain or pressure
- Seizures or coma in severe cases
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Sometimes acute kidney failure causes no signs or symptoms and is detected through lab tests done for another reason. If you begin to experience any of the symptoms listed above, it’s time to visit your doctor. Any delay may cause more damages than you ever expect. “A stich in time saves nine!”
Still, it is always better to avoid kidney problems by living healthy balanced lives! It’s not too late to unlearn these damaging behaviors. If you feel you have engaged in any of the aforementioned damaging behaviors, you may have to see your doctor to be sure you are not at risk – before it gets too late.
There are several documented stories of people who lost their lives rather too soon because of kidney failure. According to World Health Organization, around 1.7 million people are thought to die from acute kidney injury. Overall, therefore, an estimated 5–10 million people die annually from kidney disease. You and I don’t have to experience it to know that kidney disease is deadly. So do all you can to protect your kidneys today because healthy kidneys mean a healthy you!