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"The Vital Role of Kidneys in the Human Body: Why Are They Needed?"

The kidneys are 2 bean shaped organs located on either side of the spine, under the lower part of the ribcage.  Each kidney is about 10 - 12cm.  They form part of the urinary system which consists of the kidneys, bladder, and ureter. 

Healthy kidneys filter about a half cup of blood every minute, removing waste and extra water to make urine. The urine flows from the kidneys to the bladder through two thin tubes of muscle called ureters, and you find one on each side of your bladder.  The kidneys play an important role in helping the body maintain balance or  homeostasis by :

l  Filtering harmful waste products from the blood and draining them out through the urine.
l  Balancing the level of fluids (including water) and salts in the body.
l  Controlling blood pressure.
l  Helping make red blood cells.
l  Regulating acid-base balance and the concentration of electrolytes.

They do the fine tuning in the body and are critically important in the body. 

The kidneys also:

  • Control the acid-base balance (pH balance) of your blood so when there is an imbalance, uric levels can rise therefore creating too much acidity in the body. Gout can be a physical symptom of this for men.

  • Make sugar (glucose) if your blood doesn’t have enough sugar.

  • Make a protein called renin that increases blood pressure.

  • Produce the hormones calcitriol and erythropoietin. Calcitriol is a form of vitamin D that helps your body absorb calcium. Erythropoietin helps your body make red blood cells.

Adrenal glands sits on top of each kidney.  They produces hormones, including cortisol, which helps your body respond to stress.

Cortisol also plays a role in:

  • Controlling metabolism.

  • Reducing inflammation.

  • Regulating blood pressure.

  • Increasing blood sugar levels.

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed/stressed/anxious and in flight and fright, cortisol will increase and if this goes on indefinitely, it can irritate the kidneys and contribute to high blood pressure and a host of other things.  You may also struggle to lose weight even though you aren’t eating much due to high or fluctuating cortisol levels.

High blood pressure can constrict and narrow the blood vessels in your kidneys, which reduces blood flow and stops the kidneys from working well.  When this happens, the kidneys are not able to remove all waste and extra fluid from your body and feet or ankles may swell as these fluids and waste continue to build up.  Never ignore these signs.

High blood pressure can lead to kidney failure if left unchecked and a host of other things, including the following :

The kidneys regulate circulatory volume by controlling sodium and water balance,  thus maintaining extracellular fluid volume (ECFV) homeostasis. Simply put, an increase in sodium and water consumption leads to an increase in ECFV, which in turn increases blood volume.  If this balance goes out of balance, it may cause swelling in the feet or ankles. 

Patients with chronic kidney disease, especially end-stage renal disease (ESRD), exhibit many abnormalities in protein and amino acid metabolism. One of these alterations involves an increased plasma concentration of the sulphur-containing amino acid homocysteine.

The accumulation of homocysteine eventually damages the glomerular cells and causes glomerular sclerosis (or scarring). Kidneys also plays an important role in plasma amino acid clearance and metabolism. 


Refer to our blog on methylation where you’ll see how critical it is and how methylation helps in the regulation of levels of homocysteine. If there is an increase in the level of homocysteine then it can result in inflammation and free radical damage which can damage the heart, kidneys and other organs.





Research from the National Kidney Foundation, shows these are the top 10 things to avoid.

1. Overusing Painkillers

Over the counter pain medicines, such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and Analgesics, may alleviate your aches and pains, but they can harm the kidneys, especially if you already have kidney disease. Reduce your regular use of NSAIDs and never go over the recommended dosage.

2. Abusing the Salt Shaker

Diets high in salt are high in sodium, which can increase blood pressure and, in turn, harm your kidneys.  Flavor your foods with herbs and spices instead of salt. Over time, you may find it easier to avoid using added salt (sodium) on your food. Rather use himalayan or celtic salt instead of table salt. 

3. Eating Processed Foods

Processed foods are significant sources of sodium and phosphorus. Many people who have kidney disease need to limit phosphorus in their diets. Some studies have shown that high phosphorus intake from processed foods in people without kidney disease may be harmful to their kidneys and bones.

4. Not Drinking Enough Water

Staying well hydrated helps your kidneys clear sodium and toxins from the body. Drinking plenty of water is also one of the best ways to avoid painful kidney stones. Those with kidney problems or kidney failure may need to restrict their fluid intake, but for most people, drinking 1.5 to 2 liters  of water per day is a healthy target.

5. Missing Out on Sleep

A good night’s rest is extremely important to your overall well-being and, it turns out, your kidneys. Kidney function is regulated by the sleep-wake cycle which helps coordinate the kidneys’ workload over 24 hours. So, make sure you’re getting enough quality sleep.


6. Eating Too Much Meat

Animal protein generates high amounts of acid in the blood that can be harmful to the kidneys and cause acidosis – a condition in which kidneys cannot eliminate acid fast enough. Protein is needed for growth, upkeep and repair of all parts of the body but your diet should be well balanced with fruits and vegetables.

7. 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. In addition to desserts, sugar is often added to foods and drinks that you may not consider “sweet.” Avoid condiments, breakfast cereals, and white bread which are all sneaky sources of processed sugar. Pay attention to the ingredients when buying packaged goods to avoid added sugar in your diet.

8. Smoking

While smoking isn't good for your lungs or your heart, did you know that smoking may not be good for your kidneys either? People who smoke are more likely to have protein in the urine – a sign of kidney damage.

9. Drinking Alcohol in excess

Regular heavy drinking – more than four drinks a day – has been found to double the risk chronic kidney disease. Heavy drinkers who also smoke have an even higher risk of kidney problems. 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.

10. Sitting Still 

Sitting for long periods of time has now been linked to the development of kidney disease. Although researchers don’t know yet why or how sedentary time or physical activity directly impact kidney health, it is known that greater physical activity is associated with  improved blood pressure and glucose metabolism, both important factors in kidney health.   So, get moving … and stand and walk for a short burst if you’ve been sitting for more than an hour.  Get that blood flowing.

Did you know that your kidneys also play a crucial role in other conditions such as : anemia, poly cystic kidneys, cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, gout and the liver. Read further to see how they fit in.


Anemia - Red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to all parts of your body. They give you the energy you need for your daily activities. The kidneys tell your body to make red blood cells. Iron helps make red blood cells healthy. If your kidneys are not working properly, it may affect your body’s ability to produce the correct amount of red blood cells which in turn could cause anemia or low iron.


When you have kidney disease, your kidneys cannot make enough Erythropoietin (EPO). Low EPO levels cause your red blood cell count to drop and anemia to develop. Most people with kidney disease will develop anemia. Anemia can happen early in the course of kidney disease and grow worse as kidneys fail and can no longer make EPO.


Polycystic kidneys -  The growth of cysts in your kidneys can cause a wide range of problems, including: pain in your stomach (abdomen), side or lower back, blood in your urine (haematuria) and/or high blood pressure (hypertension).  The damage causes the kidney to change as pictured below :

Cholestrol - In addition to causing heart disease, cholesterol plaque can also clog the renal arteries and cut off blood flow to the kidneys, resulting in loss of kidney function. Triglycerides, another fat (lipid) found in the blood, are associated with Cardio vascular disease when levels are too high.


Diabetes - How does diabetes cause kidney disease? High blood glucose, also called blood sugar, can damage the blood vessels in your kidneys. When the blood vessels are damaged, they don't work as well. Many people with diabetes also develop high blood pressure, which can also damage your kidneys.


Gout - Gout occurs when a substance called uric acid gets too high in your blood. Having high levels of uric acid in your blood is called hyperuricemia. High levels of uric acid can harm your kidneys and lead to kidney disease or kidney failure.  Don’t see gout in isolation - it can seriously affect your kidneys.  By making a few changes to your eating and lifestyle you can get your body back into balance and reduce any risk to your kidneys.


The liver-kidney connection -  When the liver has broken down harmful substances, its by-products are excreted into the bile or blood. Bile by-products enter the intestine and leave the body in the form of feces. Blood by-products are filtered out by the kidneys, and leave the body in the form of urine.




- Avoid energy drinks - Several studies have shown an increase in heart rate and arterial blood pressure after energy drink consumption. Regular consumption of energy drinks can increase the risk of kidney stones and this is due to the high amount of sodium found in many of the energy drinks like Red Bull.


- Avoid fizzy drinks - even sugar free ones.

- Be very careful of taking high amounts of creatinine and when consuming it if you are doing weight lifting etc ensure you drink plenty of water to flush your kidneys.

- Drink plenty of water daily to support your body and especially your kidneys.




If your kidneys aren't working properly, you may notice one or more of the following signs.  DO NOT ignore these symptoms espeically if you have had them for a while - rather test to be sure that nothing is brewing.


·        Extreme tiredness (fatigue).

·        Nausea and vomiting.

·        Confusion or trouble concentrating.

·        Swelling (edema), particularly around your hands, ankles or face.

·        Urinating more often.

·        Cramps (muscle spasms).

·        Dry or itchy skin.



You may be feeling tired, lethargic and a have a few symptoms as outlined above and go to your Doctor who then orders a kidney function test which reveals you have kidney disease.  


They will advise what stage you are and for some patients, dialysis is required. When you have kidney failure, your kidneys don't filter blood the way they should. As a result, wastes and toxins build up in your bloodstream. Dialysis does the work of your kidneys, removing waste products and excess fluid from the blood. The duration and type of dialysis varies for each individual.

The estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) is a test that measures your level of kidney function and determines your stage of kidney disease. Your healthcare team can calculate it from the results of your blood creatinine test, your age, body size, and gender.


Stage 1 — eGFR of 90 or greater — and Stage 2 — eGFR between 60 and 89

During the early stages of CKD, the kidneys still function well, and people may not experience any symptoms. However, it is important to control blood sugar and blood pressure levels and follow a healthy, balanced diet. Individuals in this stage may also need to take medication to minimize the amount of protein in their urine.


Stage 3 — eGFR between 30 and 59

As CKD progresses, the kidneys start to lose their ability to filter waste from a person’sblood. People with CKD may experience swelling in their feet and ankles, itchy skin or fatigue at this stage.

To manage the condition, a person with CKD must work closely with their doctor to check their blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels. They may also need to limit the intake of sodium, protein and phosphorus. With proper treatment and a healthy lifestyle, many people in stage 3 of CKD can avoid progressing to stage 4.

Stage 4 — eGFR between 15 and 29

By this stage, kidney function has significantly decreased. People in this stage of CKD will likely experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and poor appetite. Some may also experience anemia, which can cause fatigue and weakness.

Anyone in this stage must keep their blood pressure under control, monitor their fluid intake, and continue to restrict their sodium, protein and phosphorus intake. A doctor may also start discussing dialysis and kidney transplant options.

Stage 5 — eGFR less than 15

In the final stage of chronic kidney disease (CKD), the kidneys stop functioning properly, and a person will require either dialysis or a kidney transplant. Dialysis involves filtering the blood through a machine that removes waste and excess fluid. If a transplant is necessary, the patient will receive a new kidney from a deceased or living donor. The decision between dialysis and transplant depends on several factors and requires careful consideration.


So in closing, we can all be proactive and take charge of our wellness to avoid kidney disease.   Don’t wait until it’s too late.

If  you are feeling concerned about your kidneys after reading this blog or you want to check up on the health of your kidneys, book an appointment with me and we can do a full body scan to assess them.  Do you know that doing a simple blood test to check your kidney function can be life changing or life giving.

Why not book for a full scan including a foot detox which will boost your organs and kidneys,  to assess how your kidney and gut health is doing and let us help you improve or maintain good health .

Contact us on the following numbers to book an appointment:

However you do us now. Time is everything in wellness and precaution is better than cure


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