13 min read
11 Body Systems: Why is the Renal/ Urinary System so important?
The 11 Body Systems are a collection of organ systems made up of parts that are able to work together to serve a common purpose – growth, reproduction and survival.
Each part of a system depends on the other parts to perform tasks that can’t be achieved by single parts acting alone and help to improve our chances of survival by maintaining a stable internal body environment.
This stable environment is known as homeostasis. Our series, 11 Body Systems goes into depth about each body system and how it relates to the rest of the body.
Why is the urinary system important?
The urinary system, also known as the renal system or urinary tract, eliminates waste (in solution) from the body and regulates blood volume and blood pressure, controls levels of electrolytes and metabolites and regulates blood pH (acid-alkaline balance).
In essence, the urinary tract is the body's drainage system for the removal of urine and as part of this function, the kidneys are able to retain or expel metabolites, electrolytes, acids and bases, to allow for the excretion of toxic wastes and for the preservation of homeostasis of solutes and volume of the blood.
What is it made up of?
The urinary system consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra.
What renal and urinary tract supporting ingredients in Good Green Vitality?
One of the major functions of the renal system is to help to preserve normal blood pressure.
Increased vitamin C intake, vitamin C supplementation, and higher concentrations of vitamin C are associated with lower blood pressure. (1)
Vitamin C supplementation has also been shown to significantly reduce serum uric acid and may play a role in reducing hyperuricaemia and help to prevent gout. (2)
Pooled data from randomised controlled trials show a significant, positive effect of vitamin E supplementation on endothelial function (the thin membrane that lines the inside of blood vessels and which can become damaged and is a contributor to heart disease).
This effect is greatest for those with lower levels of vitamin E. (3)
While this effect would be classified as a cardiovascular one, this has a flow-on effect to the kidneys and reduces the burden on them to maintain blood pressure and supplementation with vitamin E has been independently shown to reduce systolic blood pressure. (4)
Research suggests that oral potassium supplementation can significantly and safely lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, with a greater magnitude in this blood pressure-lowering effect seen in those patients with hypertension, (5-7) those who consume high amounts of sodium, those not on hypertensive drug treatment, and those in the lowest category of potassium intake. (8)
An adequate dietary intake of potassium is also likely to be effective for lowering blood pressure. (8)
Grapeseed extracts contain antioxidants that increase the total antioxidant activity of the body, (9) with a range of purported health benefits. In a study of 150 mg and 300 mg of Grapeseed extract vs placebo, over 4 weeks, there was a significant reduction in blood pressure. (10)
A meta-analysis of studies up to 2011 confirmed this, with consistent, significant reductions in systolic blood pressure and heart rate. (11) Grapeseed also improves blood flow and reduces oxidative damage to the cardiovascular system, (12) and might reduce leg swelling. (13)
Rosehip fruit and extracts are indicated for their kidney-protective effects and have been used in traditional medicine for this purpose. (14, 15)
Cocoa and its plant phenols can improve insulin function and sensitivity, blood pressure, and improve flow-mediated dilation, (16, 17) important for proper blood flow and overall health of the circulatory system.
These benefits to blood pressure are greater even than for drastic reductions in sodium. (18)
Gotu kola has demonstrated cardio-, hepato-, and gastroprotective properties against damage, and is considered to also have kidney-protective effects, along with benefits to memory, the immune system, antioxidant status, anti-inflammatory effects, anti-viral activity, benefits to vascular function, and antidepressant properties. (19, 20)
In human studies, Gotu kola shows benefit for reducing swelling, pain, and water retention in the limbs. (21)
Animal evidence shows that the early stages of diabetic nephropathy (death of kidney cells) characterised by inflammation, can be reduced by astragalus root. (22)
Supplementation with coenzyme Q10 has resulted in meaningful reductions in blood pressure (up to 16 mm Hg reduction in systolic blood pressure) and improved mortality outcomes, and fewer cardiac events and complication for those with heart disease have been observed. (23-25)
Dandelions encompass several members of the Taraxacum which have been traditionally used as a liver and kidney protective herb.
Dandelion has a long history of medicinal use and is known to be a very nutritive plant with diuretic properties.
Ongoing research suggests that dandelion may also have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and potential anti-cancer applications which demand additional research, (26, 27) and in addition, it may have prebiotic and anti-coagulatory effects. (28)
Vegetable, fruit, and berry extracts
These help to support overall health by supplying additional primary and secondary nutrients from a whole food source.
Specific additions such as beetroot also contain high levels of nitrates that have been demonstrated to reduce high blood pressure. (29)
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2. Juraschek SP ME, Gelber AC. Effect of oral vitamin C supplementation on serum uric acid: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Arthritis Care & Research. 2011;63(9):1295-306.
3. Ashor AW, Siervo M, Lara J, Oggioni C, Afshar S, Mathers JC. Effect of vitamin C and vitamin E supplementation on endothelial function: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. British Journal of Nutrition. 2015;113(8):1182-94.
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22. Zhang J, Xie X, Li C, Fu P. Systematic review of the renal protective effect of Astragalus membranaceus (root) on diabetic nephropathy in animal models. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2009;126(2):189-96.
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