By Timothy Ray, DNP, CNP, CNN-NP
Kidneys could be considered the unsung heroes of your vital organs when it comes to keeping your body healthy. While most people are aware of the importance of the heart, lungs and brain, the kidneys continually work to keep your body running well. Here are the top six reasons kidneys deserve a little recognition:
- Kidneys keep your system clean. Kidneys filter about 200 quarts of blood each day and produce urine to remove excess waste and fluid from your body.
- Kidneys balance the electrical system of the body. Controlling the positive- and negative-charged electrolytes of the body help maintain the driving force for metabolism and nerve conduction.
- Kidneys help control blood pressure. Healthy kidneys produce a hormone to help your body regulate blood pressure, as well as balancing the sodium and fluid in your blood vessels that are essential for maintaining adequate blood flow.
- Kidneys support energy production. Kidneys create a hormone that tells your body to make red blood cells. These red blood cells support the respiratory process by carrying oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body, and then returning carbon dioxide to the lungs for exhalation.
- Kidneys keep bones strong. Kidneys make an active form of vitamin D that your body needs to absorb calcium and make strong bones.
- Kidneys help regulate the acid-base within the body. Cellular metabolism creates acid. Your kidneys help balance the body’s pH by excreting this acid and producing bicarbonate to buffer the pH and help you stay in a safe, narrow pH range that keeps your body healthy.
The kidneys may be small, but they certainly are mighty, and they directly influence every organ and metabolic process in the body. To pay them back for the work they do for you, stay hydrated, eat well, keep your blood pressure and blood sugar in check and avoid toxins that make your kidneys’ job more difficult. Do you have questions about your kidney health? Ask your nurse practitioner or other health care provider.