Today is World Kidney Day. World Kidney Day is a global awareness campaign to raise awareness of the importance of our kidneys. You can learn a lot about these amazing body organs and how they work in our new educational app Inside the Human Body which launches later this month.
In the meantime we thought we'd do our bit for kidney awareness and share with you some of the amazing facts we uncovered while researching these extraordinary human organs.
What are they?
The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs. They're located on either side of the spine behind your stomach and below your ribs. They are superheroes of the human body. Interestingly, kidneys are found in mammals, reptiles and birds.
What do they do?
The kidneys' job is to filter your blood. They remove toxins and excess water from your blood. They also make sure you have the right levels of electrolytes as well as many minerals and molecules including sodium and potassium. In addition they help to control your blood pressure.
In your lifetime, your kidneys will clean more than 1 million gallons of water, enough to fill a small lake! While that seems like a lot, this next fact might seem small. You can hold between 50 and 500 mililetres of urine in your bladder. That's only up to one coffee cup! To conclude let's talk about filtering. All the blood in your body goes through your kidneys and is filtered every 30 minutes. That's about fifty times a day!
How big are your kidneys?
An adult's kidney weighs about 140g and is the size of a fist. In comparison, a baby's kidney weighs about 28g. However, although that seems tiny, it's actually huge compared to the baby's body weight.
Tiny Filtering Units
We owe a lot to tiny filtering units called Nephrons. Each kidney is a system of millions of these guys. There are about 1.15 million of them in the body. Stretched out from end to end they'd measure roughly 8km, (5miles) long!
Can we live without them?
The short answer is no. We cannot survive without kidneys at all. However, although most people are born with two healthy kidneys, you actually only need one to survive. If a child is born without one kidney, the other one will grow to weigh the same as two. And if a kidney is removed, its partner can increase in size by 50% within a couple of months and take over the whole job of filtering blood and producing urine. Impressive.
What can I do to keep my kidneys healthy?
With kidneys being such an essential part of the human organ system, it's well worth taking good care of them. There are several things you can do:
- Keep fit and exercise
- Watch blood sugar levels and avoid diabetes
- Keep an eye on your blood pressure
- Eat healthily and keep your weight in check
- Make sure to drink plenty, your kidneys need that water!