The Goods

A primer on kidney health and why these hardworking organs deserve a little TLC

Dr. Vivien Brown breaks down how to take care of these vital organs.

Dr. Vivien Brown breaks down how to take care of these vital organs.

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

We don't often think about our kidneys, but they are vital to our health. According to the Kidney Foundation of Canada, 1 in 10 Canadians have some kind of kidney disease and can affect people of all ages. Although they're somewhat difficult to approach for surgery, specialized techniques have been developed for kidney surgery including robotic and laparoscopic surgery, sound wave technology and even small scopes to approach through the bladder. But, there are also things we can do take better care of our kidneys. That's why Dr. Vivien Brown stopped by The Goods to talk about kidney health and why these organs deserve a little TLC.

They're high up

Your kidneys are in your back and they're located just behind your lungs and protected by your rib cage. They're actually pretty high up in your back, which provides some protection against injury.

A huge help

Your kidneys have a role in affecting vitamin D metabolism and that affects bone health. One of their main functions is to clean your blood, and they also control blood pressure. Which means with kidney disease, all of these things could be affected.

Hard at work

The kidneys filter 200 litres of blood every day, which is enough to fill up a bathtub. This is the result of your kidneys filtering your blood over and over again and they take away two litres of toxins every single day, so they're definitely working hard.

Why they fail

Your kidneys are working so hard all the time to clear the blood of toxins. If your blood pressure is too high, you have diabetes that affects blood flow to the kidneys, or if you're on certain medications there can be serious effects on your kidneys. In certain people, even a drug as common as ibuprofen can be harmful. Always tell your doctor if you're taking over the counter medications or supplements.

Warning signs

Our kidneys have a lot of reserve, which means you can start to have minor disease without any symptoms. But, the best thing you can do is to have your blood checked and to check your blood pressure. For most of us, especially if you're over 65, see your physician and have your kidneys evaluated.

On keeping them healthy

The most important thing you can do is to keep your whole body healthy. When thinking about kidney health, living a healthy lifestyle or staying away from certain medications can be very helpful – always talk to your doctor. Pay attention to high blood pressure, drink plenty of water and focus on healthy choices overall and your kidneys will thank you.