Your body produces a vital clue about the state of your nephritic health.
Urine ideally should be a light yellowish color similar to that of a light beer, due to the presence of urobilin. Urobilin levels can give clues regarding the effectiveness of urinary tract functions. Other chemicals or particles in the urine can alter its color. Orange reflects dehydration or the intake of some medication. The presence of bacteria can make the urine cloudy; red blood cells can make it tea-colored.
The link between urine and kidney health: Discolored urine is often caused by medications, certain foods or food dyes. In some cases, though, changes in urine color may be caused by certain health problems. A healthy kidney should produce 1 cc of urine per hour or per kilogram of body weight over 24 hours. The frequency of urination depends on many factors such as the amount of activity, consumption of water and salt, and temperature of the environment. Aside from normal urine color, the nephrologist adds that “there should be no pain experienced and the average person can control the urge for certain period of time.” The volume, frequency and manner of urination – whether interrupted, incomplete or painful – are equally important indicators of kidney health.
How the urinary system works – Our body gets nutrients from the food we eat and uses them to maintain bodily functions, including energy and self-repair. After food is processed, waste products are left behind in the blood and in the bowel. The urinary system, specifically the kidney, works with the lungs, skin and intestines to excrete waste products through urination, bowel movement and perspiration to keep our system clean and balanced. Adults eliminate about 30 to 60 cc of urine per hour. The urinary system removes a type of waste called urea from the blood. Urea is produced when foods containing protein are broken down in the body. It is carried through the bloodstream to the kidneys, where urine is formed through an intricate filtering system. From the kidneys, urine travels down two thin tubes called ureters to the bladder. Muscles in the ureter walls constantly tighten and relax to force urine downward away from the kidneys. If urine is allowed to stand still, or back up, a kidney infection can develop. Small amounts of urine are emptied into the bladder from the ureters about every 10 to 15 seconds. The bladder is a hollow muscular organ shaped like a balloon. It sits in our pelvis and is held in place by attachments to other organs and the pelvic bones. The bladder stores urine until you are ready to go to the bathroom. It swells into a round shape when it is full. Nerves in the bladder signal the need to urinate, which intensifies as the bladder fills to its limit. A healthy bladder can hold up to 200 to 300 cc before the sensation of urination. When you are ready to empty it, the bladder receives signals from the brain to squeeze the urine out, while the muscles surrounding the usually sealed exit relax to release it from the body. All the signals must occur in concert for normal urination to occur.
An individual can survive with one kidney and a number of people really live healthily although born with one missing. But this doesn’t mean we can overlook caring for our natural blood filters, especially since they are such hard workers.
A little vigilance and TLC – in the form of proper hydration, good hygiene and watching what we ingest – can go a long way when it comes to preserving our kidney health. “Bones may break, muscles could waste away and the brain could sleep and life would still go on, but…if both kidneys fail – as occurs in end-stage kidney failure – bone, muscle and brain could not keep on. Our body dies without kidney function.” To monitor our kidney’s vitality and health, it’s always wise to take a good second look at our urine.