March is National Kidney Month. Though we may not talk about them too often, these bean-shaped organs play a vital role in our everyday body functions (3,4).
Our kidneys host many small, but powerful filtering units called nephrons. Each nephron has the ability to filter fluids in our body, like blood, for nutrients and waste products. Upon completion, the waste gets deposited into the urine. As part of this filtering system, electrolyte levels are kept stable. Hormones which the kidneys make help control blood pressure, create red blood cells, and keep our bones strong (4).
Sometimes the kidneys become too damaged to work properly. In these situations, the individuals affected have what we call “acute kidney injury” (3). It is often short-term and is caused by one of three problems: blockage of the urinary tract, decreased blood flow to the kidney, or direct damage to the kidney itself (1). Though it is usually treatable, if kidney function does not recover after treatment, acute kidney injury can progress to “chronic kidney disease” (1,3). In chronic kidney disease (CKD) there is a slow, progressive loss of kidney function over time. It can get to a point where the kidneys may not work at all. Patients may require frequent dialysis or, in very severe cases, a transplant (3).
We may be gifted with two kidneys at birth. However, it is our responsibility to make sure that they remain healthy as we age.
Tips on maintaining healthy kidneys (2)!
Maintain a well-balanced diet
Try adding more fruits and veggies into diet
Reduce the amount of salt and salty foods
Monitor your health
Engage in regular physical activity
Aim for a healthy weight
Appropriately manage health conditions
(i.e. diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease)
Get Checked. Get Fit. Get MOVING!™
Acute Kidney Injury. (n.d.). National Kidney Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/AcuteKidneyInjury.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). (Oct 2016). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/chronic-kidney-disease-ckd