Kidneys: cleaning machines Kidneys: cleaning machines

Kidneys: cleaning machines

CORPORATE 1 February, 2019 Ana María López de Mesa


Two organs – each the size of a fist and the shape of a bean – filter about 190 liters of blood a day. Learn how to protect them.

Located under the ribs, along each side of the spine, these little motors have the capacity to filter out approximately two liters of waste and water from the bloodstream a day, turning into urine.

Waste comes from the processing foods in order to obtain energy. If this waste if not eliminated properly, it builds up and can be harmful to how the body normal operates.

In addition to this cleansing process, the kidneys release three hormones: EPO, which stimulates the production of red blood cells; renin, responsible for regulating blood pressure; and calcitriol, which is what keeps the bones stocked with calcium.

A little army of cleaners

Nephrons, the kidney’s functional units, are responsible for cleaning the insides of the kidneys, each of which has about one million nephrons. They retain compounds such as sodium, phosphorus and potassium.

These units can be affected by hereditary conditions or poor lifestyle practices, which can eventually lead to decreased renal function. The most common causes of kidney failure are hereditary predisposition, diabetes and high blood pressure. With diabetes, the glucose that is not processed properly turns into poison for the nephrons. With high blood pressure, however, the blood vessels in the kidneys is what affects how they function.

Renal function can decrease between 30% and 40% without being too problematic, which is why people can live normally with only one kidney. When it goes below this limit, people can have serious health problems, which may end up requiring renal replacement therapies or a transplant.

Waste that is unwanted

Another less-serious yet very painful problem this organ and have is the internal accumulation of kidney stones. While the onset of this problem is related to genetic or environmental factors, it can affect anyone, especially if your diet is high in salt and low in liquids. This is what causes calcium to build up in the kidneys, forming small stones that the kidneys will try to – unsuccessfully – expel through the urine, which is why this condition is so painful. Kidney stones can be eliminated with minimally invasive surgical methods such as with an endoscope, shortening hospitalization or inpatient service times.

World Kidney Day

Every year, the second Thursday of March is dedicated to this organ. According to the Colombian Nephrology Association, the increase in chronic kidney disease in the world is a problem. According to Elizabeth Ardina, National Coordinator of the 2019 World Kidney Day campaign, in Colombia, the high rates of this condition in the indigenous population are of particular concern. The theme for this year’s World Kidney Day will be “Health for Everyone, Everywhere.” Among the activities held on this day, there will be a presentation of a study on the prevalence of chronic kidney disease in Colombian indigenous communities. This presentation will take place during the First Conference on the Prevention of Renal Disease in Indigenous Communities.

Beer or lemon?

Beer is believed to help eliminate kidney stones, however, all of the hydration this beverage provides with its water content is lost in its volume of alcohol. Lemonade has a better effect, however. It contains citrate, which inhibits the crystallization of calcium salts.