The kidneys are two little organs in the body that are placed there to filter out toxins. They are the little organs that allow you to urinate. When they don’t work, you can’t pee. It’s that plain and simple.
But…the function of the kidneys is not only to filter out toxins and create urine but they also help balance body fluids and release hormones that help regulate your blood pressure. (If you have a sudden spike in blood pressure and it is extremely high, that’s an indicator that something’s up with your kidneys!) The kidneys help control the production of red blood cells and produce an active form of vitamin D that promotes healthy, strong bones.
Here are a few facts about the kidneys:
- While the body has two, it uses only one at a time. There is a dominant kidney. The dormant kidney kicks in when the first one can’t do its job. For example: the first kidney gets damaged or temporarily goes down while trying to rid itself of a kidney stone.
- When it comes to kidney disease (nephritis), the disease isn’t particular and affects BOTH kidneys.
- 85% of dialysis patients also have Diabetes.
- There are at least 350,000 Americans on dialysis.
- It is estimated that over 26 million Americans suffer from some form of kidney disease.
- It is believed that the leading cause of kidney disease is diabetes.
- It is believed that the second leading cause of kidney disease is high blood pressure.
- Some Kidney disease can be a birth defect.
- Each kidney is about the size of your fist.
- It is possible to live well on as little as 25% of one kidney. (Of course, 100% is optimal!)
- More than 70,000 Americans are waiting to receive a transplant.
- Survival rate of Transplant patients, five years out, is 85.5%.
- Survival rate of Dialysis patients, five years out, is 35.8%.
The typical treatment that a kidney patient undergoes once they have been diagnosed with kidney disease is to put them on a bunch of drugs to suppress the immune system. (Yes…that would include steroids as they also act as an anti-inflammatory. It is a known fact that the kidneys are inflamed when kidney disease is present.) The patient has a 50% chance to knock the disease into remission. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
Can a person live without the kidneys? For a short time before the toxin levels build-up too high and then death is inevitable. Fortunately, there is a procedure called dialysis that basically filters all of those toxins out of the body for you. If it is hemodialysis, the person goes to a dialysis center three days a week for at least three hours at a time and gets hooked up to a machine. It is then that the person can drink as much liquid as they would like to have. The technician will dial that amount of liquid intake into the machine so that the machine can filter it back out. (Remember…when your kidneys don’t work, you can’t urinate so liquid intake has to be kept to a minimum!)
After a dialysis treatment, it is common for the patient to have to sit with their head down between their legs to recover from the faintness they feel. It is common to have a sudden drop in blood pressure after a treatment. Most get very cold during the treatment and need a blanket. Some patients can’t drive or even walk unassisted. Their over-all skin color is a drab grey and has no pink to it. Dialysis patients are often lethargic.
The other form of dialysis is peritoneal. This is a method where the patient has a tube inserted into their stomach and that tube in hooked up to a machine that changes out their stomach juices…nightly. This is a process that takes 8-12 hours. The advantage of this method is that the patient can travel easier, because the machine is portable, and it can be done in the comfort of their own home. (Although, being hooked up to a machine all night long doesn’t really sound all that convenient!)
Either way, the patient is hooked up to a machine for the rest of their lives unless they undergo a transplant. A transplant is not always an option, however.
Doesn’t sound like very much fun or a good quality of life…does it? It is also a fact that the survival rate of dialysis patients past 5 years of continuous treatment is only 35.8%. Perhaps it is best, then, to take care of those two tiny organs and not end up in that situation!
If the patient qualifies, a kidney transplant can be an option. (Age and health issues determine that.) Although not perfect and NOT a cure, a transplant is much better than staying on dialysis. The survival rate of patients past the 5-year mark on a transplant is 85.5%. Much better odds!
As stated above, a transplant is not a cure… it is only a treatment! The patient has to take anti-rejection drugs for the remainder of their life or for as long as they have that transplanted kidney. The need for these drugs is to keep the immune system suppressed so that the body won’t attack that transplanted organ and reject it. In time, that happens anyway. How long? It’s different for every transplant patient. (20 years ago, the longest living kidney transplant patient was 25 years and counting.) The mean average is about 12 years. But…many factors determine how long a patient keeps their transplant. For example: diet, taking the drugs consistently, exercise, family support, diabetes (this will continue to attack to transplant), illnesses, etc. It’s different for everyone. There are no guarantees.
There are several issues related to the anti-rejection drugs: they can be very costly and there are cases where patients have let their transplant reject because they couldn’t afford the drugs. The long-term side-effects of the drugs have some serious consequences, too. An unusually high rate of skin cancer and vulnerability to all kinds of viruses and other diseases are just a few of those long-term side-effects. Osteoporosis and diabetes are an increased risk factor, too. In spite of all that, a transplant can be a second chance at life!
Wouldn’t it be great, however, if kidney disease could be avoided? Since kidney disease is on the rise, one could assume that something is contributing to that increase. Could it be something as simple as a nutritional deficiency? In most cases, that would be a resounding, “Yes”! Take care of those precious little organs so that you don’t end up in this predicament! Here is the protocol for taking care of those kidneys:
Give the entire body the 91 essential nutrients that it needs. It’ll know what nutrients to put where to keep everything running smooth… right down to the very tiniest of cells!
Avoid foods that cause inflammation. These foods will also irritate the kidneys and any other part of your body. A few biggies would be whole grains, carbonated beverages, and nitrates in foods.
Eat good, fresh foods and avoid convenience, packaged foods.
Drink plenty of water.
Avoid harmful substances.
Get plenty of rest.
It isn’t rocket science. It’s just good, common sense. It is impossible to get all 91 essential nutrients from just your diet, alone, so it is important to supplement! When your body is deficient in one of its reserves, something breaks. Kidney disease is a BIG break! If you give your body the simple but essential nutrients it needs, good health can be yours to enjoy!