6 Ways to keep your kidneys healthy
Posted on 6 March 2019
Your kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, each roughly the size of a fist, along the middle to lower end of your spine. They are responsible for filtering all of the blood in your body (several times a day) and they regulate and maintain the body’s chemical balance. A Mediclinic nephrologist explains six ways you can keep your kidneys healthy.
Why are your kidneys important?
Your kidneys filter toxins and other waste from your blood that would otherwise negatively impact your body. They also control your body’s balance of fluid and electrolytes.
As blood passes through the kidneys, salt, water and mineral levels are adjusted, if necessary. The ‘clean’ blood goes back into the body and the waste is removed from the kidneys in urine through the ureter to the bladder.
In this way, our kidneys control blood acidity as well as blood pressure levels – both vitally important functions.
Kidney failure occurs when blood stops flowing into a kidney and part or all of it ‘dies’ as a result.
How do we damage our kidneys?
When the kidneys fail your body is ‘flooded’ by excess water, salt and toxins, which impacts every other organ and body system.
There is a myriad of conditions related to the ill health or failure of your kidneys including:
- Kidney infection
- Kidney stones
- Nephrotic syndrome
- Polycystic kidney disease
- Acute, chronic, or end-stage renal failure (ESRD)
- Certain medications (like NSAID anti-inflammatories and certain anti-biotics)
According to Dr Riaan Flooks, a nephrologist at Mediclinic Bloemfontein, Diabetes Mellitus is the leading cause of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) – the complete loss of kidney function, usually due to progressive chronic kidney disease – worldwide. He adds: “Obesity, associated with lack of exercise, is the leading risk factor for developing diabetes.”
While most kidney conditions are reversible, ESRD will require regular dialysis for survival.