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Kidneys, bean-shaped, about the size of a tightly clenched fist. But as part of the renal system, their purpose is not just simply to act as a filter.  Below are the following functions of the kidneys:

  1. Urine Production
  2. Antidiuretic Hormone (ADH)
  3. Osmolarity and Osmolality
  4. Regulation of Water Excretion
  5. Electrolyte Excretion
  6. Acid-Base Balance
  7. Auto-regulation of Blood Pressure
  8. Renal Clearance
  9. Regulation of Red Blood Cell Production
  10. Vitamin D Synthesis
  11. Secretion of Prostaglandins
  12. Excretion of Waste Products

I am not going to divulge into each one by one because it is going to be a long read, but take note on how many tasks a set of kidney does to keep your body functioning properly.

The kidneys’ role is something not to be taken lightly of, so taking care of them is essential. Here are some tips on how to look after your kidneys.

Here are some tips on how to look after your kidneys.

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  1. Drink enough water to keep yourself hydrated. But don’t overdo it. Overhydration causes fluid imbalance due to taking in more water than the kidneys could remove. [1]
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     2. Watch out for your daily salt intake. Salt raises the amount of sodium in the bloodstream and because the kidneys use osmosis, the sodium-potassium balance in the body is disrupted. This disruption in normality causes your blood pressure to increase, and untreated hypertension leads to kidney failure. In addition, too much salt increases the amount of calcium the kidneys must filter, thus increasing the risk for kidney stone formation.[2]

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     3. Watch out for your glucose intake. High blood glucose can cause damage to the blood vessels in the kidneys. And when blood vessels are damaged, they don’t work as well.[3]

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     4. Lifestyle modification. According to Med Sci Sports Exercise volume 43, physical activity has proven to be effective in the prevention of chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. And prevention of these chronic conditions also decreases the risk for chronic kidney disease.[4] [5]

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    5. Caution when taking supplements.[6] It is a common misconception that supplements, because they are depicted as natural or organic, are very safe to take. But according to a 2007 review, 17 dietary supplements can cause direct kidney damage.

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    6. Caution when taking over-the-counter medications.[7] NSAIDs (Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs) are said to cause damage to the kidneys, especially if taken along with diuretics also called water pills (furosemide, spironolactone, etc.) or ACE inhibitors (captopril, enalapril, etc.). Examples of NSAIDS are aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen.

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    7. Quit smoking. Smoking slows the flow of blood to vital organs such as the kidneys. It also affects the efficacy of medicines, such as hypertensive medications.[8]

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    8. Regular kidney function screening. If you have diabetes, hypertension or obese, having a regular kidney function screening is necessary. Your physician will be the one to prescribe the test. This is to ensure that your current health problem is not affecting your kidney function.

Kidneys are important, so we should better take care of them before it’s too late. As they say, “Prevention is better than cure” and it is always better.

A side note: I am not trying to claim that it is bad to take dietary supplements, but always remember that before taking any form of medicine be it a vitamin supplement or a maintenance medication, checking it first with your physician is necessary.

Read the full review of the supplements that are said to cause kidney damage here: http://cjasn.asnjournals.org/content/2/4/757.full

[1] http://www.healthline.com/health/overhydration#diagnosis6
[2] http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/kidney-stones/symptoms-causes/dxc-20319562
[3] https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/diabetic-kidney-disease
[4] Marquis S. Hawkins; Mary Ann Sevick; Caroline R. Richardson; Linda F. Fried; Vincent C. Arena; Andrea M. Kriska, Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011 ; volume 43(8):1457-1464. © 2011 American College of Sports Medicine
[5] http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/746893
[6] https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/11/supplements-otcs-may-hurt-kidneys/
[7] https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/11/supplements-otcs-may-hurt-kidneys/
[8] https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/smoking

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