By Chantelle Ballard
MPH Student, College of Nursing and Health Professions
It’s World Kidney Day and one of the best ways to highlight the importance of your kidneys is to become educated about their actual functions. Learning how to care for two of your most essential organs properly will benefit you in more ways than one. So in honor of World Kidney Day, here are the three overall functions of your kidneys and the simple ways you can help to keep them in optimal shape.
Kidneys Act as a Personal Waste System
One of the primary functions of our kidneys is to remove waste and excess substances from your blood and digestion system. Your kidneys not only eliminates waste but acts to maintain balance in fluid intake, mineral and nutritious substances, as well as blood regulation.
What you can do: Maintain a healthy intake of fluids, ideally making sure you’re getting at least 2-3 liters of water per day (CDC, 2005). This will allow for your kidneys properly filter out any toxins or waste product from your circulatory systems.
Kidneys Help to Regulate Blood Flow
Your kidneys also function as a regulatory organ, which maintains function needed to circulate blood through our arteries properly (NIDDK, 2018). Over time, however, if not regulated, high blood pressure (HBP) can cause corrosion to those arteries, causing weakening or narrowing. This can ultimately lead to kidney failure, with HBP being the second leading cause for malfunction.
What you can do: According to the American Heart Association, the best way to prevent kidney failure is to manage your blood pressure (AHA, n.d.). Kidney failure happens over a length of time and can be avoided. Keep a record or your blood pressure numbers, eat a balanced diet, limit sodium intake and exercise regularly for optimal health.
Kidneys Produce Essential Hormones Needed for Cell Production & Controlling Fluid Levels
Kidneys produce two important hormones: erythropoietin & renim. Erythropoietin acts as a stimulus and controlling agent for the production of red blood cells, while renim helps to controls the balance of water and sodium levels, and also regulates blood pressure levels (NIDDK, 2018).
What you can do: Limit your use of pain medications and opioids. Many people suffer from kidney stones and other pains that may increase their use of medications. However, Non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like ibuprofen and aspirin, can over time damage the function of your kidneys and hinder the production of these hormones (Dixit, Doan, Kirschner & Dexit, 2010).
Hopefully, for this National Kidney Day, this post has given insight on the functions of your kidneys and what you can do to keep them in the best shape as possible!
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Dixit, M., Doan, T., Kirschner, R., & Dixit, N. (2010). Significant acute kidney injury due to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: Inpatient detting. Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI),3(4), 1279-1285. doi: 10.3390/ph3041279
How High Blood Pressure Can Lead to Kidney Damage or Failure. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/health-threats-from-high-blood-pressure/how-high-blood-pressure-can-lead-to-kidney-damage-or-failure
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2018). Your Kidneys & How They Work. Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/kidneys-how-they-work
Plain Water, the Healthier Choice. (2019, February 4). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/data-statistics/plain-water-the-healthier-choice.html