Seven Ways to Keep Your Organs Healthy

Sun up to sun down, your body’s organs are working together to keep you healthy. Your liver breaks down harmful substances in your body, excreting that waste into your blood; your kidneys cleanse your blood of that waste, and your heart pumps the blood throughout the body.

This means that people with a liver, kidney or heart problem also have an increased risk of having problems with another organ—diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking or being overweight can all add to the risk.

On the other hand, this also means that by making efforts to improve the health of one organ, you are simultaneously improving your overall health. Here are seven ways to keep your organs healthy.

Stay hydrated

Water helps kidneys remove waste from blood, so it’s always a good idea to stay hydrated by drinking at least four to six glasses per day. If you become dehydrated, toxins can build up and affect your kidneys and your liver. While hydration keeps your blood vessels open to help blood travel freely, dehydration can make your blood thicker and more difficult for your organs to detoxify.

Eat a balanced diet

Natural sources of sugar such as fresh fruit are easier than refined sugars for your body to metabolize without overwhelming your organs. It also helps to eat a lot of fiber, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

In addition to refined sugars, limiting high fructose corn syrup (soft drinks, baked goods, sweets) and foods with saturated fat and refined carbohydrates (white bread, white rice and pasta) will keep your body healthy and functioning properly. Additionally, too much salt can cause high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart and kidney problems.

Exercise consistently

Physical activity helps to decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels, increase muscle strength, improve sleep, and control overall body weight. You don’t have to have an intense workout routine—just do something to get your heart rate up on a regular basis.

Be careful with supplements and over-the-counter medications

Mixing medications or taking more than the recommended amount can damage your liver, as it is where most drugs are broken down after being metabolized. Too much of certain vitamin supplements and even herbal remedies may be harmful to your kidneys, as they may build up and cause damage, or react poorly with prescribed medications.

If you’re unsure about which medicines may be more harmful than helpful, talk to your doctor.

Don’t smoke

Smoking causes hardening of the arteries, or even hardening of the kidneys, reducing blood flood in the kidneys and to the heart. It can also cause high blood pressure, which is a cause of both heart and kidney problems.

Additionally, limiting alcohol consumption can reduce damage to the liver.

Keep blood sugar controlled

High blood sugar can cause damage to heart, blood vessels and kidneys, among other essentials in the body. Monitor blood sugar levels frequently, and naturally lower them by following the steps listed above.

Get checked

If you have heart disease, get your kidneys checked; if you have kidney disease, get your heart checked—especially if you have diabetes or high blood pressure. Organs are precious – be sure to protect yours!

How Do The Kidneys Work?

How Do The Kidneys Work?

At just 4.5” inches, it’s hard to believe the kidneys cleanse upwards of 150 quarts of fluid from your body every day. It can be easy to overlook the importance of kidneys until their wellbeing is in jeopardy, but they are essential to healthy bodily functions. Read on to learn more about the kidney’s role in the endocrine and urinary system and the ways in which they purify your blood.

What Do the Kidneys Do?

The kidneys play a vital role in the human body. These fist-sized organs, located on either side of the abdomen, provide the human body with a unique filtration process to purify blood and remove waste. Proper kidney functionality is imperative to good health, mobility and longevity.

The Kidneys serve several purposes:

  • Regulate blood pressure by releasing a hormone called angiotensin
  • Remove toxins from the body
  • Ensure a stable blood mineral balance
  • Regulate fluids in the body and prevent excessive buildup
  • Filter blood and create red blood cells
  • Maintain vitamin B balance for healthy bones

How Do the Kidneys Work?

The kidneys receive a supply of blood from the renal artery, remove impurities from the blood, and then return the blood to the body through the renal vein. The kidneys remove toxins and unnecessary waste by means of urine, which travels from the kidneys to the bladder.

The human body absorbs whatever food nutrients it needs for energy and self-repair. According to WebMD, “After your body has taken what it needs from the food, waste is sent to the blood. If your kidneys did not remove these wastes, the wastes would build up in the blood and damage your body.”

Kidney Composition

Kidneys are comprised of different parts and tissues. One critically important part is called a nephron. There are more than one million nephrons in each kidney that all work together to remove waste and impurities from the body. Each nephron filters a small amount of blood, which is why there are so many of them within the kidneys.

According to NewHealthAdvisor.com, “There are two types of nephrons. The cortical nephrons, which make up about 85 percent, are found deep in the renal cortex, while the juxtamedullary nephrons, which make up about 15 percent of total nephrons, lie close to the medulla.”

The Impressive Power of the Kidneys

According to the National Kidney Foundation:

  • The kidneys filter about 150-200 quarts of fluid every 24 hours and return it to the bloodstream;
  • Approximately “two quarts are removed from the body in the form of urine, and about 198 quarts are recovered;”
  • Kidneys are under five inches, making them smaller than a computer mouse or a cell phone.

Learn More About Kidney Disease 

At OCRC, we are working to help create a better future for those impacted by chronic kidney disease. We are currently in need of volunteers for our Kidney disease study.

Volunteer qualifications include:

  • Ranging in age between 18-80
  • Presently have kidney impairment or disease

Currently seeing a nephrologist and taking medicine such as Procrit® or Epogen® for low blood count, Aranesp® for anemia, or PhosLo® or Renagel® for high blood phosphorus.

If you are interested in participating, please tell us a little more about yourself in the Contact section of the home page and we will respond to you to determine your eligibility for current and future studies.

Research Toolbox: Nephrology

Research Toolbox: Nephrology

Not to be confused with nephology, the meteorological study of clouds, nephrology is a branch of medicine focused on kidney health and damage prevention. Because kidney disease is considered by many to be “a silent killer,” nephrologists typically work with patients to keep kidney functionality within a healthy range for their age. When the kidneys can no longer sufficiently cleanse the blood, nephrologists employ an artificial method of removing impurities and waste, known as dialysis.

What do nephrologists do?

Simply put, nephrologists are kidney doctors. The kidneys play such an important role in cleansing the blood that this special group of doctors undergoes additional training to comprehensively understand the outlook for individuals with kidney damage.

In practice, nephrologists rely heavily on urinalysis, or urine analysis, to detect signs of disease and declining health. Per Wikipedia, they also look for “blood in the urine (haematuria), protein in the urine (proteinuria), pus cells in the urine (pyuria) or cancer cells in the urine.” 

How do nephrologists aid in the prevention of kidney damage?

According to Wikipedia, “Nephrologists may provide care to people without kidney problems and may work in general/internal medicine, transplant medicine, immunosuppression management, intensive care medicine, clinical pharmacology, perioperative medicine, or pediatric nephrology.”

Because poor kidney functionality can cause a wide range of chronic illnesses, Nephrology specialists, or nephrologists, recommend a number of proactive measures to prevent kidney damage. Learn more about these preventative measures on our “What causes kidney disease?” blog post.

What is end-stage renal disease?

End-stage renal disease (ESRD) is the final stage of chronic kidney disease. It usually occurs after years of health problems like high blood pressure or diabetes. When the kidneys are no longer able to function and meet the body’s needs, end-stage renal disease sets in. ESRD may involve a kidney transplant for individuals who are deemed healthy enough for a transplant.

Where to find out more about kidney disease

  1. The National Kidney Foundation

“The National Kidney Foundation is the leading organization in the U.S. dedicated to the awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease for hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals, millions of patients and their families, and tens of millions of Americans at risk.” Their website is an excellent kidney disease knowledge resource for those who are unfamiliar with the disease or are looking for proactive, preventative health measures.

  1. The American Kidney Fund

A truly philanthropic organization, the American Kidney Fund has assisted 1 out of every 5 kidney dialysis patients with health insurance premiums, transportation costs, & prescription medications since 1971.

  1. American Association of Kidney Patients

The American Association of Kidney Patients is dedicated to improving the quality of life for kidney patients through education, advocacy and the fostering of patient communities.” Active on social media and in Washington, D.C., this organization is particularly known for their advocacy and outreach efforts. Stay connected online and help make a difference in the kidney community.

Kidney disease clinical trial opportunities 

At OCRC, we work closely with the FDA and pharmaceutical companies to determine how chronic kidney disease affects they way medicines move through the body and are removed from the body. We are currently looking for participants for our Kidney disease study.

Volunteer qualifications include:

  • Ranging in age between 18-80
  • Presently have kidney impairment or disease

What Causes Kidney Disease?

What Causes Kidney Disease?

Approximately 26 million Americans live with kidney disease, without their conscious knowledge of the condition. Additionally, one in every three Americans are at risk for developing kidney disease. Many individuals overlook the symptoms of kidney disease because the signs are nonspecific and similar to other illnesses. High-risk individuals must have regular screenings, but anyone can have kidney damage without their knowledge.

A look at the underlying causes of kidney disease

The two leading causes of kidney disease have historically been high blood pressure and adult onset diabetes. However, recent research has indicated that acid reflux may result in a 20-50% increase for the development of kidney disease.

The treatment of Acid reflux, or heartburn caused by indigestion, involves preventative medications like Prilosec® (omeprazole), Nexium® (esomeprazole), or Prevacid® (lansoprazole). According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, people who took two daily doses of these medications “had a higher risk compared to once daily dose users.”

Additionally, when certain medications are consumed over an extended time period, they can have a damaging effect on organs like the kidneys. Even common over-the-counter remedies like antacids or pain killers like ibuprofen can actually damage the kidneys when consumed excessively.

Kidney disease contributes to a number of chronic health concerns

Poor kidney functionality can cause a wide range of chronic illnesses. Here are some of the more common conditions associated with kidney damage and disease:

  • Heart disease: The leading cause of death of both men and women in the United States, heart disease symptoms include diseased vessels, structural problems, and blood clots. It results after the buildup of plaque in the arteries, which thickens and stiffens the walls of the organs and surrounding tissues.
  • Kidney failure: The final stage of chronic kidney disease, this condition exists when kidneys can no longer support the body’s needs. Once approximately 10-15% of kidney function remains, doctors may recommend dialysis or an organ transplant.
  • End Stage Renal Disease: After normal kidney function has been compromised, kidney disease results. Chronic kidney disease may lead to renal failure, or ESRD. This condition is very serious. According to healthline.com, “Without treatment, you may only be able to survive without your kidneys for a few months”
  • Bone disease: This condition may develop when certain substances, such as calcium, phosphate or vitamin D build-up within the body.
  • Anemia: Pale skin, weakness and chronic fatigue are commonly occurring side effects of this condition; which results when the body experiences a deficiency of erythropoietin, the hormone necessary to make new red blood cells.

Take preventative measures to avoid kidney damage

Keeping your body in overall good health is very important in the prevention of kidney damage. Like the old adage goes, “be good to your body and your body will be good to you!” Additionally, the following recommendations will help ensure the kidneys remain healthy well into old age:

  • Keep high blood pressure in check: Normal blood pressure helps ensure the kidneys are healthy and functioning normally. When blood pressure increases beyond what is considered healthy, the kidneys are forced to work harder and over time, the organs become less efficient at cleansing the body.
  • Monitor your cholesterol levels: Weight, diet, gender, alcohol use, stress levels and background are all factors in the development of high cholesterol. Exercising regularly and healthy eating habits are the best ways to prevent high cholesterol levels. Liver, thyroid and kidney health may also affect cholesterol levels.
  • Cease tobacco usage: Smoking or tobacco usage can cause a number of avoidable health problems like certain cancers, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
  • Stay at a healthy weight: Maintaining a healthy weight will help you avoid diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
  • For more information about kidney disease prevention, visit our blog here and learn about the science behind kidney functionality and nephrology.

What is kidney dialysis?

What is kidney dialysis?

Kidneys are small fist-sized organs on either side of the abdomen that purify blood and help rid the body of waste. You might not be fully aware of the importance of your kidneys, but they play an important role in your body. From regulating blood pressure and mineral balances to regulating fluids, to creating red blood cells; if your kidneys are impaired, your health and wellbeing will eventually be compromised.

What is dialysis?

Kidney dialysis is a common procedure designed to mimic the functionality of the kidneys. This life-saving treatment helps restore salts, removes waste and fluids in the blood, stabilizes blood pressure and helps the body reach a healthy balance.

What are the different types of kidney dialysis?

Hemodialysis patients typically visit a treatment center three times per week and stay between 2-4 hours. According to The National Kidney Foundation, patients visit “a special building that is equipped with machines that perform the dialysis treatment. Additionally, the hemodialysis machine “adds the proper materials to purified water for the dialysis machines.”

Peritoneal Dialysis, inversely, relies on a catheter or a tube to clean the blood internally. Blood remains within arteries and veins while it is filtered and the impurities exit the body via the catheter.

What are the symptoms of kidney damage?

Kidney damage signs include fatigue, frequent urination, itchy skin, tissue inflammation, excessive water retention, high blood potassium, shortness of breath, loss of appetite and anemia. Not all of these symptoms are present in all patients, and it is important not to assume that just because one or more of these symptoms are present that an individual needs kidney dialysis.

What is the purpose of kidney dialysis?

Proper kidney functionality is imperative to good health, mobility and longevity. When the kidneys are compromised, an individual’s waste will quickly build up within the bloodstream. Eventually, enough waste in the blood may lead to a coma or death.

Kidney dialysis helps treat:

  • Acute Kidney Injury: This condition may result from a sudden drop of blood flow, certain infections, serious urinary blockages or ingesting poison. Dialysis may only be temporary in this case, requiring just a few sessions.
  • Diabetic Kidney Disease: Patients with Diabetic Kidney Disease experience a “leak in abnormal amounts of protein from the blood into the urine,” according to patient.info. Healthy kidneys pass trace amounts of albumin to the urine stream. Additionally, “a raised level of albumin in the urine is the typical first sign that the kidneys have become damaged by diabetes.”
  • End-Stage Renal Disease: As the kidneys increasingly work to keep up with the needs of the body, Chronic Kidney Disease may develop. Diabetes and high blood pressure are often to blame for this serious health problem, which typically evolves over years. This condition may often precede a kidney transplant for patients who are blessed with a blood-type-matched donor.

Learn more about kidney disease

At OCRC, we are working to help create a better future for those impacted by chronic kidney disease. We are currently in need of volunteers for our Kidney disease study.

Volunteer qualifications include:

  • Ranging in age between 18-80
  • Presently have kidney impairment or disease

Currently seeing a nephrologist and taking medicine such as Procrit® or Aranesp® for low blood count, or PhosLo® or Renagel® for high blood phosphorus

If you are interested in participating, please tell us a little more about yourself in the Contact section of the home page and we will respond to you to determine your eligibility for current and future studies.

How Does The Body Metabolize Medication?

When medications make their way through the human body, they encounter different organs before finally being released in the bloodstream. While the process may sound straightforward, different drugs dissolve at different rates, different formulas, and dosages breakdown differently – and, everybody’s body metabolizes medication uniquely. These are just a few of the many complexities behind the nature of drug absorption and metabolism.

How does medication enter the bloodstream?

The vast majority of medications are taken orally and are broken down within the gastrointestinal tract. Once the medication arrives, it is broken down by stomach acids before it passes through the liver and then enters the bloodstream. Certain medications may stay in the bloodstream longer – it all depends on the dosage and drug family consumed. 

What factors influence medication absorption?

There are several factors at play when determining the overall time required for medication to fully digest. The following factors all impact an individual’s sensitivity to and absorption of medication:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Gender
  • Time of day taken
  • Level of physical activity
  • Level of stress
  • Content of stomach and PH level
  • Presence of other medications

Gastric acids may prevent or slow the breakdown of certain medications. Additionally, when a medication is metabolized in the liver, its potency will decrease along with its effectiveness before the therapeutic reaches the bloodstream.

According to Merck, in order “to be absorbed, a drug given orally must survive encounters with low pH and numerous GI secretions, including potentially degrading enzymes.” This research exemplifies the reasoning behind doctor’s common orders to take a medication with a full stomach. There is science behind the reason why it’s advisable to follow his or her orders.

How long does it take for the body to absorb medication?

The method of drug consumption affects the rate at which the medicine travels throughout the bloodstream. The solubility of the medication also affects how long it will take for the medication to dissolve. In general, it typically takes approximately 30 minutes for most medications to dissolve.

When a medication is coated in a special coating – which may help protect the drug from stomach acids – often times it may take longer for the therapeutic to reach the bloodstream. For example, an aspirin may dissolve in a matter of minutes, while gel caps may take much longer, due to their gel coating. These pills may also be easier to swallow, so it is important to weigh the pros and cons of different medications.

How is medication administered?

  • A tablet, capsule or syrup taken orally
  • Tablets or pills dissolved sub-lingual
  • Medication Inhaled or droplets administered to eyes, ears, nose or throat
  • Injection via IV or intravenously in a vein
  • Rectal administration
  • As a patch or gel applied to the skin
  • Controlled-release

Certain medication forms are associated with more potent medications. For example, intravenous medications may be more potent than capsule. A sublingual tablet typically moves more quickly through the circulatory system, and is thus rapidly metabolized. The same is true of rectal medications, where a significant number of blood vessels are present.

The Science Behind Kidney Disease Prevention

Nearly 1 in 3 Americans are at risk for developing kidney disease, but many are not aware. Kidney damage can go unnoticed for years until chronic symptoms arise. Kidney damage is frequently caused by commonly occurring health conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes.

Kidney disease is a top leading cause of death in the United States, affecting nearly 26 Million Americans, according to the National Kidney Foundation. Advanced stage kidney disease may lead to kidney dialysis, an artificial method of cleansing the blood of impurities and waste, made possible by a dialysis machine.

How do kidneys function?

Kidneys are fist-sized organs located on either side of the abdomen providing the human body with a unique filtration process to purify blood, and remove waste. Proper kidney functionality is imperative to good health, mobility and longevity.

Kidneys serve many purposes:

  • Regulate blood pressure by releasing a hormone
  • Remove toxins from the body
  • Ensure blood mineral balance
  • Regulate fluids in the body and prevent excess
  • Filter blood and create red blood cells
  • Maintain vitamin B balance for health bones

What is Nephrology?

Nephrology deals with the care and treatment of kidneys. Nephrologists are internal medicine doctors who work with patients to monitor kidney health and improve or treat functionality.

Nephrologists perform blood and urine lab analyses to determine a patient’s overall health. They monitor blood pressure and check for certain minerals in a patient’s urine stream to determine any strain on the kidneys.

What causes kidney disease?

Kidney damage is often triggered by overlooked or undiagnosed high blood pressure. As pressure increases, the kidneys are forced to work harder and over time, the organs become less efficient at cleansing the body.

Diabetes is another leading cause of kidney damage. According to Healthline, “The increased level of sugar in the blood damages the blood vessels in the kidneys over time. This means the kidneys can’t clean the blood properly. Kidney failure can occur when your body becomes overloaded with toxins.”

How can kidney functionality be improved?

The good news about kidney damage is that a little bit of prevention can go a long way. A healthy diet and hydration are your kidneys best friends.

  1. Stay hydrated.

Are you getting the recommended 75-150 ounces per day of water? The chances are high that you’re not. Don’t worry, though. This is an easy habit to change. Grab a large water jug at the beginning of the day and instead of reaching for sugary sodas or coffees, grab some cold H2O!

  1. Get some sunshine!

You’d never know that sunshine improves kidney functionality, but it actually reduces pressure on your kidneys. Slather on the sunshine and head outside for some sunny rays – your kidneys will thank you!

  1. Burn some calories!

Keeping your weight down will help moderate the amount of effort required by your kidneys to cleanse your blood. Find a weekly workout schedule that works with your priorities. Everyone has a few hours per week to devote to upkeep of his or her body – it’s the only one you have, after all!

  1. Eat clean.

Whether you’re cold pressing juice or stopping by the farmer’s market, grab some fresh fruits and veggies – and enjoy! Your body will respond well to the vitamins and a change in your diet can have a significant impact on your energy levels!

  1. Ditch the salt.

It’s amazing how much salt is in virtually every table condiment, boxed frozen food, or soup you find at a grocery store. Excessive salt consumption not only causes bloating, but it’s harder on your body. Start paying attention to your salt usage, and give your kidneys a rest!