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Living With One Kidney is Possible

single kidney

One kidney is capable of performing the normal functions of two kidneys, but extra vigilance is needed to prevent kidney disease or damage that could impair kidney function.

Most humans are born with two kidneys but in rare cases, some people are born with one. There are others who may have had two kidneys at birth but may have lost one through injury, disease or they may have donated one of their kidneys.

Whatever the circumstances that may have caused someone to have a single kidney, it is possible to lead a healthy, normal life.

The kidneys are the body's natural detoxification system, responsible for removing waste products and excess water and salt from the blood. Their workload is quite heavy and they filter close to 200 liters of blood, on a daily basis.

In addition to filtering blood, kidneys also perform a number of other functions. They maintain the blood's correct volume and concentration, they regulate blood pressure and the body's pH balance, they process vitamin D and produce certain hormones.

Although, one kidney can adequately perform all these important tasks, it is not wise to overburden a single kidney. Poor dietary and lifestyle habits can overwork the kidney, causing diminished kidney function and lead to kidney failure. Taking some simple proactive steps can help to preserve and prolong kidney health.

The following are some general, practical tips that can help to preserve kidney health and kidney function.

Kidney Care Tips For Living With One Kidney

  • If you have one kidney, the first and most important tip is to have regular medical check-ups. Monitoring kidney function will help to detect any early signs of kidney stress or other problems. When you have a single kidney, early detection of kidney problems is crucial. This could mean the difference between maintaining a healthy kidney or developing kidney failure. Early detection allows for timely treatment and, if necessary, adjustment of habits or diet. Problems are likely to be exacerbated with a single kidney than with two. It is, therefore, advisable to have your kidney checked at least once a year.

  • A healthy diet is essential. To maintain proper metabolic organ function, you must eat healthy. Food is like the fuel that determines whether our internal engine runs smoothly or literally shuts down. Just as you ensure that the correct fuel goes into your automobile, you should also ensure that the correct foods go into your body.

    It is unfortunate that most modern western diets are far from what is considered a healthy diet. There are lots of published information about healthy eating, so there is little reason not to eat healthy.  The key to a healthy diet is to increase consumption of plant-based foods while reducing consumption of refined and oily (fried) foods. A good place to start is by concentrating on foods within the super foods category.

  • Adequate consumption of water is another key requirement for persons who live with one kidney. This is important whether you have one or two kidneys. Almost all metabolic functions of the body require water. In general, Water is essential for biological functions and must be continuously replenished, since it is constantly lost mainly through urination, respiration, and sweating.

  • Exercise regularly! Physical exercise is an important element of optimum kidney health. This is especially important if you are living with a single kidney.  Exercise helps to lower or control blood pressure and increases insulin sensitivity, helping to prevent against type II diabetes (adult onset diabetes). Both hypertension and diabetes are major underlying factors responsible for kidney failure, so it is important to guard against them. In addition to diet, exercise plays a key role in preventing and controlling these two serious conditions.  ​There are many other benefits of exercising. When you engage in physical exercise, the blood and other substances are stirred and toxins and other waste products are eliminated more efficiently. It also helps to improve circulation. This allows oxygen and essential nutrients to be transported more efficiently around the body, resulting in better overall health.

  • Detoxification is a process that helps to rid the body of toxins that may have built up over time. Toxins are typically caused by polluted air and water and processed food chemicals. If these toxins are allowed to accumulate, they can cause serious health problems.  The body has its own detoxification systems. Toxins are mainly eliminated by the colon, the liver and the kidneys. Detoxification is a naturally occurring process whereby the body rids itself of toxic substances through sweat, urine, and feces. Sometimes, however, the body is not able to eliminate these toxins as efficiently as it ought to and they hang around in our lymphatic and digestive systems longer than they should. This can be dangerous, especially if you have just one kidney. Consequently, it is important to embark on a detoxification program at least once a year.  Talk to your physician or a registered dietitian to help you develop a detox plan that suits your body's and personal health status.

  • Supplements should be considered, to compensate for any nutritional deficiencies in your diets. Generally, most of us do not receive adequate nutrients from our food. A prolonged deficiency of nutrients can result in a depleted immune system, which could be dangerous especially if you have one kidney. It is therefore important to consume adequate nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, fatty acids or amino acids, daily. Consult your health care provider or dietitian for recommended supplements suitable for your particular needs.

Although these tips are for persons living with one kidney, they can be beneficial to anyone.  Every person has unique requirements, so it is important to be guided by your health care provider, to help ensure that you are taking measures relevant to your particular circumstances.  This is especially important for persons living with one kidney.  Regular consultations with your health care provider will not only help with preventative health care but is also important for monitoring kidney function.

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