At Annex Naturopathic Clinic, a naturopathic clinic in Toronto, we work with individuals and families with a variety of health issues.
Understanding your body and the tasks that various organs play can help you to recognize when something is wrong.
Today, we’ll examine two organs that have an important role in managing body function: the kidneys.
Maintaining good kidney health is important for your overall well-being.
Let’s have a closer look at what functions our kidneys perform, some of the diseases that can affect them, and things we can do to keep them healthy.
What Are Your Kidneys?
Your kidneys are twin bean-shaped organs about the size of your fist, located on either side of your spine just below the ribs.
The right kidney is generally smaller than the left kidney to make room for your liver, which sits beside it.
The kidneys are surrounded by tough, fibrous renal tissue, and several layers of fat for protection.
What Do Your Kidneys Do?
The kidneys’ job is to remove waste, control electrolytes and balance fluid levels in the blood.
Blood enters the kidneys through the renal arteries and leaves again through the renal veins.
All of the blood in your body passes through your kidneys several times a day.
The kidneys collect waste from the blood and convert it into urine, which is then filtered into the bladder.
The kidneys also work to reabsorb nutrients, such as sodium, glucose and magnesium, from the blood and transfer them where they are needed.
Another function of the kidneys is to balance fluid levels, keeping the ratio between fluids and minerals in the body in balance.
Absorption or ejection of sodium from the blood causes the blood vessels to expand or constrict, regulating blood pressure, so high blood pressure can have an adverse effect on your kidneys when they have to work too hard.
What else affects the health of your kidneys?
What Sort Of Diseases Affect Your Kidneys?
The kidneys can be affected by a number of diseases, caused by medical or environmental factors, and problems are not always easy to spot.
You could have only 10% of your kidney function and not notice any symptoms.
Here are some of the most common issues that affect the kidneys.
1. Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are one of the better known diseases of the kidneys as they are considered one of the most painful conditions to experience.
Minerals can buildup in the urine to form crystals, or stones, which are difficult, and excruciatingly painful, to pass.
Most stones are small enough to pass on their own, but some larger stones need medical intervention.
2. Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease is the most common type of kidney disease.
Chronic kidney disease, or renal disease, can be caused by high blood pressure.
This is because high blood pressure pushes more blood through your kidneys, forcing them to work harder.
Over time, the pressure on your glomeruli, the functional units in your kidneys, will compromise their ability to filter your blood.
Eventually, the kidneys will be unable to sufficiently function, and you’ll need a kidney dialysis.
Diabetes can also result in chronic kidney disease because uncontrolled blood sugar levels damage the normal function of the kidneys.
3. Kidney Failure
Kidney failure occurs when your kidneys become unable to effectively filter your blood, leading to complete kidney failure.
If you have end stage kidney failure, you’ll need dialysis to survive.
Dialysis filters the waste and fluids out of the blood, but is not a long term solution.
In most cases, end stage kidney failure does not have a cure and will require a transplant.
Glomerulonephritis is an inflammation of the glomeruli, which are the parts of the kidneys that filter blood.
This condition can be caused by infection, medications or an overactive immune system due to an autoimmune disease attacking the kidneys.
Glomerulonephritis causes blood and protein in the urine and in some cases can lead to kidney failure.
Pyelonephritis is an infection of the kidneys that causes lower back pain and fever.
Most often it is brought on by an undiagnosed urinary tract infection that has spread to the kidneys.
The infection usually responds well to antibiotics but if left untreated it can result in kidney failure.
Who’s At Risk For Kidney Diseases?
People most at risk for kidney disease include:
- Those sixty years of age and older
- People born at a low birth weight
- Those who are obese, overweight or smokers
- Those with a family history of high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease
- People who have kidney damage
Many forms of kidney disease are progressive and will eventually lead to kidney failure.
How To Support Your Kidneys Naturally
Here are some tips to help your kidneys stay healthy.
1. Stay Hydrated
Six to eight cups of water a day is recommended for a healthy body.
Drinking lots of water also helps to clear sodium and toxins from the kidneys.
2. Take Probiotics
Probiotics work in your gut to protect the intestinal barrier and reduce the level of toxins that escape into your blood.
3. N-Acetylcysteine (NAC)
NAC is an amino acid that works as an antioxidant in the body.
Dialysis patients taking NAC have shown improvement in oxidation levels and reduction of anemia.
This natural supplement offers support for the kidneys if you are at risk for chronic kidney disease or taking many medications.
Book An Appointment With Annex Naturopathic
If you are showing signs of kidney disease or feel you may be at risk, contact Annex Naturopathic to speak to a professional.
We will work with you to determine the issues and find a treatment plan that works best for you.
Call Annex Naturopathic today.