Healthy Kidneys and the Role of Water
The human body is made to be self-healing. Some say it also "ages," but to me that means we let it wear down by not giving our bodies what they need to thrive. Good health not only makes us feel stronger longer, but it also helps our pocketbooks—saving us money on doctor visits, medications, and health insurance. Although it doesn't make sense to withhold good health from our bodies, we do it all the time.
Indeed, some of us take better care of our vehicles than we do our bodies. Knowing something about how vehicle engines work helps us to pick a good mechanic and also encourages good maintenance practices. Just so, knowing something about how our bodies work can help us treat it better and also guide us to choosing a good doctor or health practitioner. Starting with the role of water in general, this article will move to the specific way in which water helps our kidneys clean the blood—our body's transportation system.
Role of Water in the Human Body
The role of water in the human body mimics its role in nature, with its primary contributions being cleaning, transportation, and conduction:
Water washing in and out of cell walls pulls out wastes and puts in nutrients, keeping cells healthy and clean.
Water moves all kinds of nutrients, carriers, warriors, and wastes throughout the body. Water plus its carriers is called blood.
Electrical messages, by which our body communicates with itself, are conducted through the medium of water, which enhances the capacity of the nerves that send them. This is why the brain contains so much water (77%).
Water also keeps our bodies plump and well lubricated. People with too much water bloat up (edema). People with too little grow thin and wrinkled (dehydration). Both conditions either affect or are caused by unhealthy kidneys.
Role of Kidneys in Human Body
The kidneys are the organs responsible for cleaning the body's blood. They have three main functions:
To clean waste products from the blood and get rid of them.
To balance the salts in the body, keeping the makeup of the blood liquid - similar to that of the ocean (from whence we originated) - and equalizing the blood pressure.
To adjust the pH of the blood, keeping the body slightly alkaline, rather than acidic. This helps beneficial bacteria to function properly, and keeps the mucous walls of organs properly plush (rather than eaten away, like acid does). It also prevents most of the harmful microorganisms from reproducing, since most of them need an acidic environment to do so.
How a Healthy Kidney Functions
Follow the diagram below, as I explain how the kidneys work.
The heart sends oxygenated blood to the kidneys through the renal artery (3), which spreads out into a network of capillaries (2) in each kidney. Each capillary network has its own medulla (1) - a collection of tubules capped by its own "working space" called a nephron (13). The capillaries catch the larger, healthy blood components that will go back into the blood, and send the finer blood to the nephrons.
The nephrons check to see if there is enough liquid. If not, more is added. If there is too much, it takes some away. It also checks the pH balance. If there's too much acid, the nephrons make it more alkaline and vice versa. Then it sends the discarded liquid and wastes through the medulla tubes to a larger capsule, the renal pelvis (6), where urine (as it has become) collects and is forwarded through the ureter (7) to the bladder. The bladder collects urine from both kidneys to send out of the body when it's full.
Meanwhile, the newly cleaned and refreshed blood flows back into the bloodstream via the renal veins (4). The kidneys clean approximately 20% of the blood that is pumped through the heart with each pump.
- The Kidneys and How They Work
Lots of great links on this page for various kidney dysfunctions, disease statistics, risks for children, and advice for health care professionals.
- Renal pyramid
- Interlobar artery
- Renal artery
- Renal vein
- Renal hylum
- Renal pelvis
- Minor calyx
- Renal capsule
- Inferior extremity
- Superior extremity
- Interlobar vein
- Renal sinus
- Major calyx
- Renal papilla
- Renal column
Why Two Kidneys?
Our lives switch between being extremely active, when both kidneys are needed to function fully, and being more relaxed, when one will suffice. On an average day the kidneys reclaim about 1300 grams of sodium, 400 grams of sodium bicarbonate, and 180 grams of glucose. The main reason we have two is to keep the workload balanced.
There is a slight benefit to the relative positions of the kidneys as well. Both kidneys are located in the abdominal cavity, where most of the body's digestive processes take place, where the water/salt and pH balance are most strongly affected. The right one is located slightly lower than the left to give the liver room to function. And they each interact with each lung to keep the blood's water level in balance. (The kidneys send excess water out via urine. The lungs send excess water out via the breath.)
Typical Kidney Problems
Too thick blood and the formation of kidney stones: Comes from not drinking enough water. In order to make the blood liquid enough again, the kidneys take out salts and minerals, which sometimes harden into "stones" prior to excreting them through the ureters to the bladder.
Blood too acidic: When we eat too many animal products or drink too much coffee and other acidic liquids, the kidney changes the pH back to its stasis point by sending a chemical message to pull balancing salts from tissues. Blood that is too acidic will eat at the lining of organs, including the kidneys.
Overabundance of toxins: Bacterial wastes flowing through the bloodstream to the kidneys for filtration often carry live bacteria and viruses with it. If the blood is slightly acidic as well, these bacteria can proliferate in the kidneys and create disease there.
Pressure from constipated colon: A colon that's constipated increases in size, pressing against neighboring organs and preventing them from functioning properly. The ureters - the tubes that transport urine from each kidney to the bladder - are located close to the colon and can be blocked by an expanded colon. Urine then backs up in that kidney, which is very painful.
Maintaining Good Kidney Health
Tuning into the needs of your body is a great way to become healthy. Hatha yoga taught me what a relaxed, tuned-in body feels like, and how to notice it the minute something was off. From there I learned to question, research, and experiment to see what my body liked best in terms of food, stress levels, attitude, and exercise. Now I'm 60+ years old and nearly as healthy as I was as a young adult.
In order to trust your body, it's important to experiment and even document its functions and reactions to the things you try as you are learning. Don't try to "make it work." It already knows how to work. Because each person's body is different, the following suggestions are for you to check to see if they fit you:
- Start noticing how your body feels day to day. If your mouth gets dry, showing it wants water, give it water. If you're restless or sluggish, give it exercise. If you're falling asleep at the computer, take a nap or go for a walk to perk up.
- Drop any old obligations you're carrying that don't feel joyful anymore. Stop criticizing, both yourself and others. Let go of any failures or disappointments that stifle joy in your life. These are the attitudes most commonly associated with kidney problems.
- Drink less alcohol and coffee, no soft drinks, more water - good clean, i.e. filtered water. Add a sprinkle of sea salt to your water to keep the salt/water balance and to take away some of the acidity most drinking water has these days.
- GMO feed turns pig stomachs to mush! | NaturalNews.com
GMO research on pigs reveals severe damage caused by GM soy and corn. Whether the research is thorough enough or not, the results should caution us.
- Clean out any blockage you have in your colon. If you are easily constipated, then change what you eat.
- Avoid GMO foods or meat that was fed with GMO grain mixes. More and more studies are emerging that show severe negative effects from GMO's.
Remember that your body knows how to function and take care of itself beautifully. Your job is to do what feels good to it, instead of resisting the changes that keep it healthy: Eat well, stay joyful, exercise in a fun way, drink lots of water, keep yourself clean inside, and appreciate the body you have.
- Anatomica: The Complete Home Medical Reference, by Ken Ashwell
This is an easily understood anatomical encyclopedia that shows how the body and its parts work. I used it as the main source for this article, combined with what I already know about water and good health.
- You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay
Discovering Louise Hay's work was a godsend for me. It made so much sense that our expectations about life and our emotional reactions to it affect body chemistry, which in turn affects the health of our bodies. I experimented and proved it true.