Maintaining Your Kidney Function

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Loss of kidney function is a serious issue and it can be fatal. 

Our kidneys are a pair of bean shaped organs located beneath the rib cage on both side of the spine. The size of each kidney is about the size of our fist. Many filtering processes take place in our kidneys.

Our kidneys have many important roles besides removing excessive water from the body.


Roles of Kidneys

1. Cleaning the Blood

The primary function of the kidneys is cleaning the blood. Every day without fail, they filter and remove waste and excess fluid from blood. By retaining the chemical balance inside the body, they ensure the body remains healthy.

If both kidneys are working properly, the renal function is 100%.

If only one kidney is present, the kidney can adjust to filter as much as two kidneys. Thus, it is sufficient to survive even with 1 kidney.

One interesting fact: Our kidneys filter out about 2 quarts (approx. 1.89 liters) of waste products and extra water from about 200 quarts (189 liters) of blood.

2. Balancing Water Volume

When the body is dehydrated, the kidney will not produce much urine to maintain the balance since the volume of fluid declines.

4. Producing Red Blood Cells

The kidneys produce a type of hormone called EPO. It promotes the formation of red blood cells in bone marrow.

Within the kidneys, there are certain cells that are responsive to changes in oxygen levels in blood. These cells release EPO to stimulate the bone marrow to produce more red blood cells should they detect the low level of oxygen within the kidneys.

With more red blood cells circulating, it increases the oxygen level in the blood.

5. Maintaining Bone Strength

The Kidneys also help maintain a proper balance of calcium and phosphorous in the blood. When the kidney function fails, osteoporosis is the result of it.

Kidneys produce a type of vitamin D known as calcitriol. It is an active form of vitamin D that aids calcium absorption from food into the blood and bones. It also helps to maintain the calcium balance in the body by working together with another hormone, parathyroid.

When Kidneys are damaged, they lost ability to produce calcitriol. The parathyroid hormone level increases with the absent of calcitriol, and it strips calcium from bones to maintain the calcium level.

In the long run, the removal of calcium from the body can cause osteoporosis.

3. Regulating Blood Pressure

Regulating blood pressure is one of the key roles of kidneys. Kidneys react to low blood pressure by releasing the hormone called renin, which sets off a cascade of actions to promote water retention.

However, high blood pressure puts a lot of stress on your kidneys. Not only it damages the kidneys, conditions may worsen when the kidneys are unable to excrete fluids.

High blood pressure causes the heart to work harder to pump the blood throughout the entire body. Progressively, this creates long term damage to blood vessels over time.

When blood vessels in the kidneys are damaged, the rest of the functions of this organ are affected. The kidneys cannot eliminate waste and excess fluid anymore. The excess fluid within the body further elevates the blood pressure.

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for chronic kidney disease.

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7 Ways to Protect Your Kidney Function

1. Exercise

Exercise has been proven to be beneficial in many areas such as blood pressure, cholestrol, heart, kidney, blood sugar etc. Consult your physician about the best plan for you and stick with the plan. Goal settings and reminders may help to keep you motivated.

2. Control Blood Pressure

As you have learnt about the damaged of high blood pressure to the kidneys, check your blood pressure regularly and consult your doctor should your blood pressure is out of range.

3. Control Blood Sugar

High blood sugar can cause damage to the kidneys and disrupt the chemical balance. Without the chemical balance in the kidneys, they cannot perform the job of filtering the blood. You can have sugary food but keep it in moderation.

4. Control cholestrol and triglycerides

5. Limit the salt intake

6. Drink plenty of fluid

7. Stop all unhealthy habits. These include smoking and drinking.

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