So What Do My Kidneys Do?

Where are they and what do they do?Adrenal Illustration

The two kidneys are located in the lumbar region, on either side of the spinal column protected by the lower ribs. Each kidney is 4 to 4.5 inches long, 1 to 1.5 inches thick, 2 to 2.25 inches wide and weighs 4 to 10.5oz.

The right kidney is positioned a little lower than the left and borders on the liver, duodenum, and the bend of right colon. The left kidney is next to the stomach, the spleen, the pancreas, and the bend of the left colon.

The kidneys are bean-shaped with an inner curve. At this curve is the connection of the blood and lymphatic vessels, nerves and renal pelvis, and is the starting point of the ureter.

The kidney is surrounded by a firm cover called the renal capsule. This fatty capsule provides the kidneys with a padded bed to protect it from accidental bumps. During respiration and body posture changes, the position of the kidneys can change too, allowing movement of up to 3/4 inch.

The function of the kidneys is closely linked with the vascular system. The quantity of blood flowing through a kidney in a day is approximately 132 gallons. The kidneys control the balance of salts and minerals, excretion of metabolic waste and regulate the balance of liquid. They are also involved in adjusting the pH in the body. The main task of the kidneys is to keep the composition of the blood and all other body fluids in a constant balance.

A particularly important function of the urinary system is the balancing of electrolytes. Sodium, potassium, calcium and phosphate salts are involved in various processes such as the construction of bones and teeth, muscle tension (calcium), the transport of insulin in the cells (potassium), and triggering muscle contractions (magnesium).

The kidneys must recognize and determine which substances need to be excreted and which have to stay in the purified blood in the body. The influences and demands on the kidneys change all the time as we repeatedly change our quantity and quality of food from meal to meal. They are constantly adapting to physical exertion, rest, temperature changes and levels of well-being in the body.

If the kidneys are hindered in their tasks, kidney complaints can occur and become evident in many different signs of illness in the body. In the case of kidney stones (produced above all by incorrect diets or hyperfunction of the parathyroid glands), extreme abdominal and back pain can occur depending on the position of the stone, accompanied by nausea and darkly colored or cloudy urine, which can also contain blood.

The kidneys form 16oz to 67oz of urine per day. This consists of around 95% water. The most important component is the urea, an end product of protein metabolism.  It also contains creatinine, which is created during muscle metabolism and uric acid, an end product of nucleic acid metabolism. This is the process in which RNA and DNA molecules are made. These molecules assist in the repair and building of cells.

Further components of urine include salts, phosphates, citric acid, vitamins and hormones.

Herbs that can help support the kidneys

Uva Ursi

Stinging Nettles




Supporting the Kidneys

Foods to consider adding to your diet for supporting kidney function are:

Foods rich in vitamin A: alfalfa, apricots, cantaloupes, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and squash

Eat these foods in moderation:

If symptoms are severe you may wish to avoid these foods altogether:

Animal protein, reduce intake of potassium and salt.

Avoid refined sugar.

Often there is more than one issue going on in the body at any one time.  Everything is connected and sometimes the body needs to work in a prioritizing sequence. Don’t be alarmed if multiple supplements are suggested.  It can be very beneficial to support several different systems and organs of the body as we assist it to heal.

You can download and print the free reference brochure here!