Why is it crucial to keep our kidneys and liver healthy? And how do we know if they are healthy?
The liver and the kidneys are some of the most essential and hardworking organs in the body. They carry out numerous functions such as excretion of waste, metabolism of many substances, hormonal regulation, proper digestion, as well as proper coagulation (the process by which blood changes into a solid state to form a solid seal).
The kidneys -- a pair of bean-shaped organs remove waste products from the body, maintain balanced electrolyte levels, and regulate blood pressure. They help the body pass waste as urine. They also help filter blood before sending it back to the heart. The kidneys perform many crucial functions, including:
- maintaining overall fluid balance
- regulating and filtering minerals from blood
- filtering waste materials from food, medications, and toxic substances
- creating hormones that help produce red blood cells, promote bone health, and regulate blood pressure
In fact, the Ancient Egyptians left only the brain and kidneys in position before embalming a body, inferring that kidneys held a higher value.
The liver, on the other hand is the largest solid organ and the largest gland in the human body. It carries out over 500 essential tasks. Classed as part of the digestive system, the roles of the liver include detoxification, protein synthesis, and the production of chemicals that help digest food.
The liver controls most chemical levels in the blood. It also secretes a clear yellow or orange fluid called bile. Bile helps to break down fats, preparing them for further digestion and absorption. All of the blood leaving the stomach and intestines passes through the liver. The liver processes this blood and breaks down, balances, and creates nutrients for the body to use. It also breaks down (metabolizes) medicines in the blood into forms that are easier for the body to use. Like our kidneys, the liver does many important things including:
- Makes bile, which helps carry away waste and break down fats in the small intestine during digestion
- Makes certain proteins for blood plasma
- Makes cholesterol and special proteins to help carry fats through the body
- Stores and releases glucose as needed
- Processes hemoglobin to use its iron content (the liver stores iron)
- Changes harmful ammonia to urea (urea is one of the end products of protein metabolism that is excreted in the urine)
- Clears the blood of medicines and other harmful substances
- Regulates blood clotting
- Fights infections by making immune factors and removing bacteria from the bloodstream
- Clears bilirubin (too much bilirubin makes skin and eyes turn yellow)
When the liver has broken down harmful substances, they are excreted into the bile or blood. Bile by-products enter the intestine and ultimately leave the body in bowel movements. Blood by-products are filtered out by the kidneys and leave the body in the form of urine.
With the number of functions these 2 organs do to our body, It is only fit that we take care of them. Here are some useful tips to note to avoid kidney and liver problems:
Taking Care of Our Kidneys:
- Avoid extra salt - Eating a lot of salty foods can disrupt the balance of minerals in the blood. This can make it harder for the kidneys to work properly. Try swapping out processed foods — which usually have a lot of added salt — for whole foods, such as:
- fresh fruits and vegetables
- lean cuts of meat
- Exercise - High blood pressure is a known risk factor for chronic kidney diseases. Regular exercise, even for 20 minutes a day, can help reduce blood pressure.
- Stay hydrated - Drinking plenty of water helps the kidneys perform one of their most important functions - removing toxins
- Use medications with caution - Regularly taking certain over-the-counter medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, can cause kidney damage over time. Occasionally taking them is fine, but work with your doctor to find alternatives if you have a condition that requires managing pain, such as arthritis.
- Know the risk factors - Several things can increase your risk of developing a kidney condition. Make sure you regularly have your kidney function tested if you:
- have diabetes
- are obese
- have high blood pressure
- have a family history of kidney disease
13 Ways to a Healthy Liver:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat a balanced diet
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid toxins
- Use alcohol responsibly
- Avoid the use of illicit drugs
- Avoid contaminated needles
- Get medical care if you’re exposed to blood
- Don’t share personal hygiene items. For example, razors, toothbrushes and nail clippers can carry microscopic levels of blood or other body fluids that may be contaminated.
- Practice safe sex
- Wash your hands regularly
- Follow directions on all medications
- Get vaccinated
Damage to both these organs poses great risks to our health, therefore, taking care of them should be a way of life. So, if you are reading this, what better way than to start right now?
Early detection of Kidney and Liver problems is also important. People with early kidney diseases may not know anything is wrong. They can't feel the damage before any kidney function is lost. It happens slowly, and in stages. Early detection with the right treatment can slow kidney disease from getting worse. And if you’re up to it, there are simple and easy steps to take to check if they remain healthy. Of course, when there are alarming results, it is best to consult with a medical practitioner.
Early Detection of Kidney and Liver Problems
Three simple tests can help find kidney/Liver problems. What are the tests measuring?
- How much waste is in your blood?
- How much protein is in your urine?
- How high your blood pressure is?
Urinalysis can help to detect many diseases before you feel symptoms. Finding and treating a problem early can help keep serious diseases from getting worse. A urinalysis is a test of your urine. It is used to detect and manage a wide range of disorders, such as urinary tract infections, kidney disease and diabetes. It involves checking the appearance, concentration and content of urine. Abnormal urinalysis results may point to a disease or illness.
For example, a urinary tract infection can make urine look cloudy instead of clear. Increased levels of protein in urine can be a sign of kidney disease. Unusual urinalysis results often require more testing to uncover the source of the problem.
What does a dipstick urinalysis check for?
Things the dipstick test can check for include:
- Acidity, or pH. If the acid is above normal, you could have kidney stones, a urinary tract infection or another condition.
- Protein. This can be a sign your kidneys are not working right. Kidneys filter waste products out of your blood, and your body needs protein.
- Glucose. A high sugar content is a marker for diabetes.
- White blood cells. These are a sign of infection.
- Bilirubin. If this waste product, which is normally eliminated by your liver, show up, it may mean your liver isn’t working properly.
- Blood in your urine. Sometimes this is a sign of infections or certain illnesses.
How to Use Urinalysis Test Strips? Usually the instructions supplied with the urinalysis test strip product will suggest dipping the entire dipstick into the urine sample for 1 or 2 seconds and then comparing the results. However, because different pee tests require different times in which to compare the dipstick color to the corresponding color on the chart, you will find it much easier to use an eyedropper. Simply place a single drop of your urine sample onto a single dipstick chemical pad and wait for the required time to compare the sample against the chart. Then proceed to the next test on the strip, and so on. Just be sure the eyedropper, and any urine collection container used, is sterile.
! An important note though that it is best to consult with a medical practitioner on the interpretation of the results
Color Chart for 10 Parameter Urinalysis Test
The liver and kidneys are two of the most important organs on the body. They perform certain functions that keep us alive such as maintaining balance in our bodies, filtering toxins, aids in digestion and several other essential functions. Therefore, we should exert extra effort in caring for these two organs. It counts to be mindful of our food intake. Also, it would help a lot if we have regular health checks or self-monitoring on the essential organs of our body. Early detection kits are available online and are very handy and user-friendly. And, though a cliché, keep in mind that prevention is always better than cure!