Kidneys are a very important part of the human body. Sometimes, however, they don’t quite work for whatever reason. There are a number of serious conditions linked to the kidneys, many of them potentially fatal. A good way to help stave off kidney disease or help to treat some existing conditions is with a balanced diet, healthy and protein-rich.
What Do the Kidneys Do?
Each kidney is only about four inches in length. Together, they don’t even weigh a single pound. They are powerful when they function correctly. They filter all of the waste and excess fluids out of your blood, which amounts to about half of the fluids that you digest, and expel up to two quarts of urine per day. Kidneys process more than 18 gallons of blood per hour, all day, every day.
Kidneys are prone to a number of unique conditions, like kidney stones. Conditions like diabetes or hypertension can also affect the kidneys and eventually lead to chronic kidney disease, a difficulty that more than 26 million Americans live with on a daily basis. This can eventually become complete kidney failure unless the patient follows a physician-guided course of treatment, which will always incorporate a healthy diet that is rich in protein.
Just about everyone has heard of kidney stones, one of the conditions unique to kidneys. Everyone also knows that they are quite painful. They are formed by crystals in the kidneys from a variety of causes. Most of those with this condition are Caucasian males between 40 and 70 years of age and have a family history of kidney stones or related kidney conditions.
In most people, there is a chemical process which prevents crystalline masses from clumping together inside the urinary tract. Sometimes this process doesn’t work as well as it should and a hard mass grows, causing extreme discomfort during urination. Kidney stones will usually pass through the body quite easily without any help, but some get so large that they block the urinary tract, which means medical attention is required immediately.
Kidney stones come in a number of types, like calcium oxalate, phosphate oxlate, struvite or cystine. There are also a number of conditions that can contribute to the formation of kidney stones, including too much vitamin D, the use of diuretics, gout or a blockage in the urinary tract. There are also certain inherited conditions that can contribute to kidney disease, including:
Hypercalcuria: A buildup of calcium in the blood that is likely the cause of half of all kidney stones.
Cystinuria: This is a rare condition affecting the metabolism that causes an amino acid known as cystine to build up in the blood. Cystine comes from proteins during the digestive process.
Hyperoxaluria: Like the previous, this is an inheritable metabolic condition which involves a calcium oxalate (a type of salt) buildup in the system.
Can Protein Do Anything Against Kidney Disorders
Unfortunately, this is not a yes or no question with a simple answer. It is necessary to have some protein in your diet, after all. Too little of it can cause serious problems with malnourishment. As with most things, too much is also dangerous. When kidney disease is involved, it is more important than ever to take the middle ground with protein intake. Everyone, not only those with kidney disease, needs to have a balanced diet with not only protein, but the right proportions of sugars, fats, carbohydrates and other things that a body needs to keep going. A good diet reduces the risk of just about every serious disease. Too much protein (more than about 35% of all calories consumed), can cause harm to the kidneys.
So, what exactly is protein, anyway? Protein is what is known as a macronutrient and is composed of strings of amino acids. The human body has twenty-two amino acids, all of which are needed in some capacity for good health. Eight of them are known as essential amino acids and fourteen of them are non-essential amino acids. Essential amino acids get their name because the body needs them, but they cannot be created by the body. The essential amino acids include phenylalanine, isoleucine, methionine, threonine, tryptophan, valine, lysine and leucine.
How to Get Your Protein
It really isn’t that hard to change your diet to something healthy that may even increase your lifespan. Protein is important, of course, but you’ll need to get the right amount rather than too much or too little. Always consult your physician before making a major change in your diet, just to be sure.
There are a multitude of great natural sources for protein, like meat, eggs, fish, poultry, milk products, nuts and whole grains. Not only are these all healthy, but they taste great too. If that isn’t enough protein or some of those sources aren’t available to you, there are protein supplements that can help you out as well, like Profect, from Protica. Each serving has less than 100 calories and comes in a number of flavors like Orange-Pineapple, Grapefruit-Mango and Passionfruit, one of which you are sure to love.
How Much Protein is the Right Amount?
The American Heart Association states that no one should consume more than 35% of their daily calories in protein. Your physician will know what the right amount for you is, but there are ways for you to determine it on your own.
In general, an adult will need about .8 grams of protein each day for each kilogram of body weight. This is the base number, which can vary a bit depending upon the amount of exercise you engage in, your age, how healthy you are in general and so forth. An active person, for instance, can have a bit more protein, because it will be burned off fairly quickly. A more sedentary person may need only about half of the base amount.
This formula may be helpful for anyone who is curious about how much protein is good for them personally. Divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 to get your weight in kilograms. Multiple that number by .4 if you are not very active, by .5 to .8 if you are moderately active and by .8 to 1 if you are very active. Someone like a bodybuilder may actually need about 1.2 to 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram.