The kidneys wear many hats. They regulate fluid, salt, and pH balance and serve as filters for the blood, deciding which substances should stay in the blood and which should be eliminated from the body as urine. Kidneys also synthesize several important hormones, including erythropoietin (stimulates red blood cell formation), and renin (raises blood pressure). Kidneys also perform the final step in Vitamin D creation.
The kidneys monitor and filter blood by passing it through complex networks of tiny blood vessels and miniature collecting tubes called nephrons. Each kidney has about 1 million nephrons, so kidneys have a very rich blood supply. At any given moment, 1/5th of the body’s blood supply is circulating through the kidneys.
High blood pressure and diabetes, both strongly associated with diets high in refined carbohydrate, are the most common causes of damage to the kidney’s delicate blood vessels.
Conditions affecting the kidneys include: pyelonephritis (kidney infection), diabetic nephropathy, renal insufficiency, renal failure, nephrolithiasis (kidney stones), glomerular diseases, and nephrotic syndrome.