While it is possible to live quite well with only one kidney, it is crucial to have two healthy kidneys in order to have a healthy body. The kidneys perform some important tasks and require proper care.
Our kidneys are bean-shaped organs located on both sides of the backbone just under the rib cage or above the small of your back, weighing around 150 grams each. The kidneys is part of a biological waste disposal system which works continuously. The kidneys also perform the crucial job of cleaning the blood which circulates through the kidneys about 12 times every hour. Each day our kidneys process around 200 liters of blood with around 1 to 2 liters of waste leaving the body as urine.
Healthy kidneys regulate the amount of water in our bodies. The body must contain the right amount of water for the kidneys to work properly. One of the important jobs of the kidneys is to remove excess water from the body or to retain water when the body needs more.
When the kidneys are healthy and working properly they regulate the levels of substances in the blood and body fluids. The kidneys excrete excess amount of such substances. It is the kidneys that regulate the level of minerals, such as sodium, calcium and phosphate, in the body. Kidneys also produce hormones which then circulate in the bloodstream and regulate important body functions such as blood pressure, the making of red blood cells, and the absorption of calcium from the intestine.
Staying hydrated helps your kidneys function properly. Your urine should be straw-coloured or pale. If it's any darker, you are dehydrated. Make sure you drink enough water regularly, especially during hot weather conditions, when travelling in hot countries or when exercising.
A balanced diet helps you get all the minerals and vitamins your body needs. Without them the body may end up putting extra burden on your kidneys. Therefore, eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and grains. Don't eat too much salty or fatty food which may affect your kidneys.
Smoking or drinking too much alcohol makes your kidneys to work harder to remove toxins from your blood. Quit smoking and drink moderately to keep your kidneys healthy.
High blood pressure has no symptoms but it can damage your kidneys. Have your blood pressure checked regularly. Also stay slim and fit as being heavy can raise your blood pressure. Try to keep yourself at a healthy weight by keeping active and avoiding eating too much. Aim to get involved in moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking, cycling or swimming on a regular basis.
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