Your kidneys are an important part of the renal system, as they eliminate toxins and waste from your body. It’s important to understand the basics of kidney function, as they are a vital component to you health. Located on either side within your torso just below the rib cage, these bean-shaped organs:
- Filter waste out of your blood stream
- Prevent a build up of extra fluids and waste inside your body
- Keep electrolyte levels stable
- Produce hormones that make red blood cells and regulate blood pressure
How do the kidneys work?
Each kidney is home to a million functioning units, called nephrons. Nephrons are made up of a filtering unit consisting of tiny blood vessels, called a glomerulus, which is attached to a tubule. The blood is filtered as it passes through the glomerulus and the remaining fluid passes along the tubule. In the tubule, chemicals and water are either added to or extracted from this fluid, based on what the body needs. The final product is the urine we excrete.
Each kidney has a ureter that connects the renal pelvis to the bladder. The urine from the kidney flows down the ureter, into the bladder and is finally passed out of the body through the urethra.
Renal system and your kidneys
In addition to taking care of waste removal, your kidneys also perform these important, life-sustaining functions:
- Detoxifying harmful substances
- Increasing the absorption of calcium
- Stimulating the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow
The kidneys are surrounded and protected by three layers of connective tissue that bind them to the abdominal wall. This helps cushion the kidneys, protecting them from trauma and infection.
How to keep your kidneys healthy
- Maintain a healthy blood pressure
- Control your glucose levels (especially important for diabetics)
- Maintain healthy cholesterol levels
- Reduce salt intake
- Eat more fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- Reduce alcohol intake
- Exercise and maintain a healthy weight
- Eliminate tobacco products
If you suffer from poor kidney function, or are preparing for dialysis treatment, the team of compassionate professionals at South Texas Renal Care Group can help. Call (210) 390-0944 to schedule your appointment today.