Most people are born with two
kidneys and each bean shaped organ is about 11.5 cm long, 5 to 7.5 cm broad and 2.5 cm
thick, weighing about 150 grams. Kidneys are located
near the middle of the back, just under the ribcage.
What do your kidneys do?
Healthy kidneys act like a filter to make sure the right amount
of wastes and fluids are removed, they keep the proper balance
of salts and acids in the body, and produce hormones. Each day
our kidneys process around 200 litres of blood, with around 1
to 2 litres of waste leaving the body as urine. Our kidneys make
three important hormones, erythropoietin, renin and active
vitamin D. Erythropoietin stimulates the production of red blood
cells, renin is involved in the control of blood pressure
and active vitamin D controls calcium uptake and helps make
The major role of
the kidneys is to remove waste from the blood and eliminate it
in the urine. To remove this waste and extra water, blood
enters the kidney through the renal artery; blood is then
cleaned in the kidney as it passes through tiny filters called
nephrons. The nephrons are the basic working units of the
kidneys, controlling the formation of urine. One kidney contains
about one million nephrons and each nephron contains a filtering
apparatus called a glomerulus.
The process of removing waste
and extra water in simple terms is:
- Food and drink enters the stomach and are broken down into
- Solid waste products are removed and nutrients enter the
- Nutrients are used by the body for energy, growth, repair
and maintenance of body functions.
- This process creates waste which is removed by the
- Extra nutrients not immediately needed by the body are
also removed by the kidneys.
- Waste products and extra water move from the kidneys to
the bladder, then leave the body as urine.
Some Kidney Diseases :
Chronic Kidney Disease :
This term means that the kidneys have been damaged and are not
working as well as they should normally. About 50 people a
day die of kidney related disease. Early detection and
treatment can help prevent kidney failure and the need for
dialysis or transplant treatment.
How do you know if you have CKD?
In most cases CKD does not cause any symptoms and is detected
because a test has shown an abnormality. It may be a urine
test for blood or protein; an X-ray or scan of the kidneys; or a
blood test to measure kidney function.
When the kidneys become damaged, do
other organs suffer as well? Most kidney
diseases attack the nephrons, slowly destroying their filtering
capacity over many years, seriously damaging your kidneys
before you even know it. Some kidney diseases, such as
polycystic kidney disease are inherited, but the two most common
causes of kidney disease are diabetes (diabetic
nephropathy) and high blood pressure (hypertension). In
diabetes high blood sugar levels damage the nephrons. High
blood pressure can prevent the small blood vessels in the
kidneys from filtering and cleansing the blood well enough.
Why do kidneys fail ?
Inside each kidney there are about one million tiny units
called nephrons which filter blood as it passes through
each nephron and water and waste products are removed. Most
of the water returns to the blood, the waste products collect in
the bladder then leave the body as urine (wee). Most kidney
diseases attack the nephrons. Sometimes kidney failure can
happen quickly, caused for example by a sudden loss of large
amounts of blood or an accident. A sudden drop in kidney
function is called Acute Kidney Failure and is often short
lived, but can occasionally lead to lasting kidney damage.
What can I do to help stay healthy ?
- Keep your blood pressure below 130/90 and maintain healthy
levels of cholesterol.
- Itís important to have your cholesterol levels checked
- Lead a healthy lifestyle and maintain healthy weight.
- Eat a balanced healthy diet low in saturated fats.
- Become a non smoker.
- If you have diabetes make sure you actively treat your
Eating : The food you eat plays a huge role in the
health and well being of your body. It can help to prevent some
diseases, and to manage others. As well as providing the body
with a variety of nutrients, food choices can also help in
weight reduction and weight control.
- Eat healthy foods - with as many fresh
ingredients as possible.
- Don't over eat - always leave a meal feeling like you
could eat a little bit more.
- Eat breakfast - a good breakfast activates your metabolism
first thing in the morning.
- Avoid fat diets - they are hard to maintain over a long
period and can create or worsen ill health.
- Drink plenty of fluids - choose to drink
water instead! Sugar drinks have lots of calories, while
caffeine and alcohol are both diuretics and can leave the
- Check nutrition panels on all parcelled foods you buy
- choose only foods that list a low percentage of
sugar and salt and that are low in saturated fats.
If you are overweight, you have an increased
risk of developing diabetes
and high blood pressure - both are major risk factors for kidney
disease. Losing as little as 5 kilograms reduces blood
pressure in most people who are 10% above a healthy weight.
Be or remain a non-smoker
Don't drink too much alcohol
Drink plenty water instead
Reduce your extra weight
Start exercising & yoga
- Avoid salty, spicy, oily foods and alcohol.
Back to Ailments