Your kidneys are powerful multi-taskers. These bean-shaped organs are most often associated with filtering waste out of the body, but they’re also responsible for a plethora of other bodily tasks, from monitoring the chemicals in your blood to helping keep bones strong.
Take a moment to discover the important roles your kidneys play in keeping your body running smoothly!
Kidneys Help Regulate Blood Pressure
Like a system of checks and balances, your healthy heart and kidneys work together to help maintain your blood pressure. Your kidneys produce a hormone called renin that interacts with other proteins to among other things adjust the size of blood vessels, which in turn adjusts blood pressure. This process also helps your kidneys maintain levels of sodium and other electrolytes that can increase blood volume — a key factor for blood pressure.
A healthy blood pressure can help ensure normal function of your heart and arteries.
Kidneys Help Keep Bones Strong
Most of us know that calcium intake is a building block for strong bones. But strengthening bones takes more than drinking your daily recommended value of milk. Maintaining the proper balance of calcium is an intricate routine, orchestrated to a large extent by your kidneys.
The process begins not with calcium, but with an active form of Vitamin D — called calcitriol — and a hormone called parathyroid hormone, which together help manage the calcium and phosphorous levels in your blood. Healthy kidneys process Vitamin D into calcitriol, which helps maintain the levels of calcium in your blood in part by increasing the absorption of calcium from the gastrointestinal tract and in extension then can support bone formation.
The increased absorption of calcium from the gastrointestinal tract can be counteracted by a compound called oxalate in the diet. You can further support kidney and bone health by maintaining a balanced calcium-oxalate intake with the low-oxalate diet.
Kidneys Contribute to the Balance of Chemicals
If your healthy kidneys were in school, they’d be majoring in chemistry — in fact, they’d be teaching the class. As the master chemists of the body, your kidneys continuously monitor and help regulate the levels of chemicals in your blood. Part of that job involves keeping a stable balance of acids and bases.
When kidneys are functioning normally, they eliminate excess acids through the urinary tract. This is crucial for your body to maintain the health of not only your blood flow, bones and joints, but also your kidneys themselves.
Kidneys Assist in Red Blood Cell Production
Red blood cells transport oxygen through your blood to the rest of your body’s tissues. A healthy red blood cell count is important for many reasons for example; red blood cells provide energy, help your heart maintain a regular heartbeat and remove carbon dioxide from your body through your lungs.
The kidneys produce a hormone called erythropoietin, which is central to red blood cell production. Healthy kidneys continuously assist in the monitoring of the level of oxygen in your blood stream and can effortlessly adjust the production of erythropoietin to meet the demands of your body.
If you’re committed to kidney-friendly habits such as getting enough water or following the low-oxalate diet, you can pat yourself on the back – you’re on the path to maintaining your health in more ways than one.
Helena Cowley, M.S., MBA, is co-founder and CEO of Entring, LLC, a company which has a mission to offer choices to those with nutritional limits. With a background as a Bioengineer, Helena enjoys building things – including teams, products and a way to offer choices to those with nutritional limits. After a decade of researching enzymes, Helena and her team at Entring launched their flagship product, Nephure — a first-to-market enzyme food ingredient that can help those following a low-oxalate diet discover more nutritional freedom in foods they eat and drink. Helena also serves as CEO of Captozyme, Inc., a biotechnology company specializing in enzymes and live biotherapeutics for pharmaceuticals, and medical foods. Learn more about Nephure and watch the story behind this innovative food ingredient.