The Urinary System is another important body system. The Urinary System works with the lungs, skin, and intestines to remove wastes from the body. The urinary system also works to reabsorb water, salts, protein, glucose, and minerals that are essential for cellular health. For optimal health it is so important that all our body systems work together as a team.
The Urinary System is made up of the following:
- Sphincter Muscle
The kidneys are the main organ of the Urinary System. The kidneys are bean shaped and are about 1/2 the size of our fist. They are located in the middle of the back on each side of the spine. Each kidney has approximately one million nephrons and it is these nephrons that are responsible for performing the functions of the kidneys. The kidneys are crucial to our health and without at least one fully functioning kidney, we can not live. The Kidneys are responsible to filter and process the blood, remove waste from the body and produce the hormones erythropoietin (EPO) which stimulates bone marrow to make red blood cells, renin which helps regulate our blood pressure, and calcitriol a form of Vitamin D that helps maintain the calcium for our bones and a normal chemical balance throughout the body. The kidneys also balance the amount of water, salts, proteins, glucose, minerals, urea and other substance in the body, while assisting in the balancing of the body's pH. It is during the filtering and processing stage that urine is produced. The kidneys can only process approximately 4 oz of water at a time so that is why it is best to drink water in small amounts throughout the day. The ureters carry the urine from the kidneys to the bladder. Each ureter is approximately 8 to 10 inches long and it is the muscles within the ureter walls tightening and relaxing that moves the urine from the kidney to the bladders. These muscles tighten and relax every 10 to 15 seconds. The bladder is the ballooned shaped hollow muscular organ that is located in the pelvic area of the lower abdomen. The bladder is held in place by ligaments. When the bladder fills with urine it fills like a balloon fills. The bladder can hold up to 2 cups for 2 to 5 hours and it is the nerves in the bladder that communicate, letting us know when it needs to be emptied. The sphincters are circular muscles located where the bladder connects to the urethra. The urethra is the tube that transports the urine out of the body. The sphincters tighten to keep the urine from leaking out of the bladder and when it is time to empty the bladder, the brain tells the bladder to tighten up to squeeze the urine out of the bladder allowing the bladder to become smaller as it empties. Adults excrete approximately 1.5 quarts or more of urine each day.
Health Issues and the Urinary System
Many problems can occur throughout the urinary system, a few are mentioned below.
- Urinary Tract Infections (UTI's)
- Urinary Incontinence
- Kidney Stones
- Chronic Kidney Disease
- Kidney Failure
Urinary tract infections(UTI's) affect millions of people each year and seem to be more common in women. Urinary tract infections can occur from an obstruction in the flow of urine, changes in the immune system, not drinking enough fluids, and bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E Coli). Symptoms include pain or burning during urination, a strong odor, feelings of urgency or frequency, cloudy appearance, pus or blood, and passing a small amount even when you are feeling pressure. UTI's can be serious and can cause damage to the function of the kidneys. You can even have an infection present in the body where no signs are apparent. An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of gold, have your doctor check your urine each year at your check up. Urinary incontinence is considered a bladder control problem and basically refers to leakage. It is more common in women as they age, but young people can be affected. There are different types of incontinence. Stress incontinence is the most common type and means that the leakage usually occurs when a person laughs, sneezes, coughs or pressure is applied to the lower stomach muscles. The other is urge incontinence which is when you feel you have to go and this feeling comes on quickly and urgently. Incontinence stems from a wide range of causes including weakened muscles, infections, hormone imbalance, and nerve damage. Lifestyle choices can also contribute to problems. Alcohol, soda, and caffeine can stress and dehydrate the kidneys. Did you know that lower back pain can be a symptom of dehydration. Kidney stones are one of the most common and painful disorders. The occurrence of kidney stones is increasing and they are more common in men than women. I have spoken to several women who have told me they would rather give birth than have another kidney stone. A kidney stone is usually made of crystals that form in the kidney. Crystals occur for different reasons and are usually a combination of chemicals. The most common being calcium combined with oxalate or phosphorous, which are part of a normal diet. Chronic kidney diseaseis a reduction of kidney function that can result in kidney failure. The American Kidney Foundation stated that 20 million Americans suffer with chronic kidney disease and that 1 in 9 adults have it and don't know it. Chronic kidney disease can be the result of a physical injury that causes damage to the kidneys, or a disease like diabetes or high blood pressure. Chronic kidney disease can be a contributing factor in other health issues like high blood pressure, low red blood cell count, diabetes, loss of protein through the urine, bone and calcium loss, cardiovascular and nervous system problems, and an over lack of well-being. Kidney failure also known as renal failure occurs when the kidneys can no longer regulate the water and chemicals in the body and remove waste products from the blood. This is when dialysis is necessary. There are more than one million people on dialysis worldwide and current medical news suggests that this number can double over the next 10 years. This increases the number of kidney transplants needed and the difficulty in finding one that is compatible.
Lifestyle Solutions for a Healthier Urinary System
- Fresh air and sunshine
- Drink pure water
- Eat nutritious foods which includes plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Supplement with nutrients, including herbs
- Exercise daily and include strength training, stretching and flexibility, aerobic
- Detox - whether you take clay or aromatherapy baths, do foot detoxes, or far infrared saunas
- Get plenty of sleep
- Avoid toxins - try using natural personal care and cleaning products
- Create healthy relationships. Emotions play an important part in our overall health.
- Take time for you
- Prayer or meditation
Foods that are most nourishing for the urinary system are watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumbers, kidney beans, lemons, parsley, celery cranberries, and asparagus. Calcium and Vitamin D are important for bone and kidney health. Hydrangea, the herb, has historically been known by the native Americans as a stone dissolver. Vitamin B Complex with Vitamin C need to be replaced daily because they are water soluble vitamins. Stress causes the body to demand more of these and they are needed to nourish the nervous system and keep our energy levels up. Magnesium is also needed by the kidney's and it is best to take both citrate and malate for easy assimilation.
View a complete list of herbs that support the Urinary System by clicking here.
Written by Karen Stene Finch - All Rights Reserved.