What you should know about your kidneys


There’s an urgent need for us to take good care of our kidneys as we grow older, because their functions tend to decline with time.

Your kidneys are the bean-shaped organs, each about the size of your fist, located near the middle of your back, a little distance below the rib cage.

According to health experts, the kidneys are sophisticated trash collectors, with both of them processing about 200 quarts of blood to sift out about 2 quarts of waste products and extra water from the body. Through tubes called ureters, the kidneys turn your waste and extra water into urine and pass it to your bladder, which has the capacity to retain liquid waste until you urinate.

The wastes in your blood are produced from the normal breakdown of active muscle and the food you eat for nourishment, energy and self-repair, but after your body has taken what it needs from the food, waste is passed to the blood and if these are not flushed out, they would pile up and eventually damage your body.

Other functions of the kidneys include: keeping the right amount of fluids in the body; helping in the formation of red blood cells; and keeping your blood pressure under control.

Risk factors for kidney disease are: high blood pressure; diabetes; being older than 60 years old; and having a family member with kidney disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure.

It is worth noting that over time, kidney disease can get worse, cause kidney failure, lead to heart and blood vessel disease as well as other health problems.

People with risk factors are advised to go for regular tests because kidney disease doesn’t always have symptoms in most people at its early stages. Good news is: it can be treated, and early detection helps. ACR (albumin-to-creatinine ratio), a simple urine analysis, detects excess protein in the body – which is a serious health issue to watch.  Another simple blood test to estimate your GFR (glomerular filtration rate) is also advised as one of the best ways to tell how well your kidneys are working.

Some of the ways to protect your kidneys are by:

  • Keeping your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol under control
  • Losing weight, if needed
  • Eating healthy meals
  • Taking all medicines as prescribed
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Avoiding booze and smoking, or at least, limiting the frequency and quantity
  • Avoiding some over-the-counter medicines (such as aspirin, naxoproxin, or ibuprofen) because they can harm kidneys.

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Kidney disease may show symptoms such as: swollen feet, ankle, face or other parts of the body; changes in urine output, color and frequency, including blood in the urine, difficulty in urinating, less frequent urination, foamy or bubbly urine, and waking up in the night to urinate – sometimes more than once; nausea and vomiting; prolonged tiredness, although fatigue is often caused by lack of a hormone called erythropoietin or EPO, which stimulates the production of red blood cells that transport energizing oxygen to cells throughout your body.

Other signs of kidney disease are itchy rashes, anemia (lack of red blood cells), and having bad taste in your mouth because when your kidneys are not removing toxins, they accumulate in your body (uremia) and most likely produce a metallic taste in your mouth. This can cause bad breath.

Kidney disease is an outcome of many factors though researchers say consumption of an acidic diet puts you at risk. According to a new study, renal problems are mostly caused by a high-acid, meat-rich diet.

To prove the link between our choice of food and kidney disease, a group of health researchers recently conducted studies with a total of 1,500 participants who were verified to have suffered kidney disease for a period of 14 years.

Participants who ate a diet high in meat came very close to experiencing complete kidney failure the scholars said, whereas others who ate more fruits and vegetables did not even show such signs, a finding which prompted the researchers’ assertion that an acidic diet can make it three times more likely for your kidneys to fail.