Kidney Health


Our kidneys are located just below our rib cage on either side of our spine. The function of the kidneys, which are bean-shaped organs about the size of a fist, is to filter blood and remove waste products and acid via our urine.

When the kidneys function well, about a cup of blood is filtered through them every minute. In this process waste products and extra fluids are removed, forming urine, which then flows via the ureters to the bladder to be stored and excreted.

The kidneys play a role in the production of our red blood cells, and they are responsible for maintaining our fluid balance and regulating the balance of minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and phosphorus. This is important for proper muscle, nerve, and tissue function as well as for blood pressure regulation and the maintenance of our bone strength.


Keeping our kidneys healthy is imperative to them functioning well throughout our lifetime. Reduced kidney function can result in kidney disease, which can increase our risk for several other conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, and ultimately kidney failure.

Our bodies can often cope with a significant reduction in kidney function in the initial stages of degeneration without showing any signs or symptoms, which is why it’s important to have our kidney function checked with our routine medical tests regularly.

Certain conditions and lifestyle habits can increase our risk for kidney disease. These include:  

Smoking – the damage caused to the blood vessels by smoking increases an individual’s risk of kidney disease.

Overuse of over-the-counter medications (OTCs) – certain anti-inflammatories and pain medications can damage the kidneys and increase the risk of kidney disease, even if taken for as little as 10 days. Always check with a medical professional before taking any medications regularly.

Hypertension – increased blood pressure can reduce the elasticity of the arteries and could either cause or contribute to kidney disease.

Diabetes – the kidneys need to work so much harder to filter our blood when we have spikes in our blood sugar. This consistent overexertion of the filtration mechanisms of the kidneys can cause severe damage over time.

Lifestyle habits that are protective of our kidney function include:

  • Regular exercise
  • Eating a balanced diet, ensuring a good intake of vegetables, fiber, and protein
  • Avoiding high salt intake, processed foods, sugars, refined carbohydrates
  • Increasing water and clear fluid intake
  • Avoid alcohol

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 9 November 2023 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am.