Maintaining wellbeing of the kidneys
The kidneys, like the liver are part of the organs involved with detoxification in the body. Before I discuss the wellbeing and cleansing of the kidneys, I would like to give a description of the anatomy of the urinary tract and functions of the kidneys.
Anatomical structure of the urinary tract
The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located at the back of the abdomen, on either side of the spinal column. They are situated on the back musculature, the right one lying slightly lower than the left and this is to create space for the liver.
Inside the kidney is an intricate arrangement of tiny blood vessels (arterioles and venules) interwoven and covered with the tubules of the kidneys. Here water, acidic wastes, toxins, excess chemicals, urea etc are passed out of the blood vessels into the tubules of the kidneys. Beyond this point where the wastes have been filtered out, there is reabsorption of minerals depending on the needs of the body. These tubules open up into two bigger tubes, the ureters, one from each kidney. These ureters emerge from the kidneys carrying urine down to the pelvis where they open into the bladder. The urine from the kidneys is deposited in the bladder for storage until such a time when it is filled enough for the individual to want to urinate.
Functions of the kidneys
1. Eliminating of wastes (Production of urine)
Toxins, acidic wastes (uric acid), chemicals and urea are generated from the numerous biochemical reactions that occur in the body throughout the day. If left in the body, they will cause damage to the tissues and organs of the body. It is the responsibility of the kidneys to filter these wastes from the blood to form the urine that is passed out of the body.
2. Maintenance of mineral and fluid balance
Depending on the level of water in the body, the kidneys either retain or release more water. In a state of dehydration, which is very common among human beings, the kidneys retain more water and minerals such as sodium. It does the opposite when there is more than enough water in the body. Also, we know that in a state of dehydration, the pH of the body fluids tend towards acid. The kidneys help to maintain the pH at the right level by retaining minerals that neutralize the acid.
3. Blood pressure regulation
The blood pressure of the individual plays a vital role in the ability of the kidneys to filter out wastes from the blood. They require a normotensive state where the blood pressure is not too high and not too low. When the blood pressure becomes too low, the kidneys release the hormone known as angiotensin, which causes constriction of the arteries. With the arteries constricted, there is increased peripheral vascular resistance. This resistance causes the heart to increase the force by which it pumps blood. Angiotensin also causes sodium and water retention which further increase the blood pressure.
4. Regulation of blood production
The kidneys produce a hormone called erythropoetin in response to a low oxygen tension; when the oxygen reaching the kidneys may be low. Erythropoetin stimulates the bone marrow to produce more oxygen-carrying red blood cells. Erythropoetin production will reduce when the oxygen reaching the kidneys become adequate.
5. Regulation of blood calcium level
A hormone active metabolite of vitamin D known as calcitrol is produced in the kidneys. Calcitrol it is that causes increased absorption of dietary calcium from the gastrointestinal tract.