The 11 Body Systems: The Renal/ Urinary System
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.
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)
1. Juraschek SP GE, Appel LJ, Miller ER. Effects of vitamin C supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2012;95(5):1079-88.
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.
4. Emami MR, Safabakhsh M, Alizadeh S, Asbaghi O, Khosroshahi MZ. Effect of vitamin E supplementation on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Human Hypertension. 2019.
5. Barri YM WC. The effects of potassium depletion and supplementation on blood pressure: a clinical review. The American Journal of the Medical Sciences. 1997;314(1):37-40.
6. Cappuccio FP MG. Does potassium supplementation lower blood pressure? A meta-analysis of published trials. Journal of Hypertension. 1991;9(5):465-73.
7. Poorolajal J ZF, Soltanian AR, Sheikh V, Hooshmand E, Maleki A. Oral potassium supplementation for management of essential hypertension: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. PLOS ONE. 2017;12(4):e0174967.
8. Filippini T FV, D’Amico R, Vinceti M. The effect of potassium supplementation on blood pressure in hypertensive subjects: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Cardiology. 2017;230:127-35.
9. Nuttall SL, Kendall MJ, Bombardelli E, Morazzoni P. An evaluation of the antioxidant activity of a standardized grape seed extract, Leucoselect. Journal of clinical pharmacy and therapeutics. 1998;23(5):385-9.
10. Sivaprakasapillai B, Edirisinghe I, Randolph J, Steinberg F, Kappagoda T. Effect of grape seed extract on blood pressure in subjects with the metabolic syndrome. Metabolism. 2009;58(12):1743-6.
11. Feringa HH, Laskey DA, Dickson JE, Coleman CI. The effect of grape seed extract on cardiovascular risk markers: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Am Diet Assoc. 2011;111(8):1173-81.
12. Clifton PM. Effect of Grape Seed Extract and Quercetin on Cardiovascular and Endothelial Parameters in High-Risk Subjects. Journal of biomedicine & biotechnology. 2004;2004(5):272-8.
13. Sano A, Tokutake S, Seo A. Proanthocyanidin-rich grape seed extract reduces leg swelling in healthy women during prolonged sitting. J Sci Food Agric. 2013;93(3):457-62.
14. Ayati Z, Amiri MS, Ramezani M, Delshad E, Sahebkar A, Emami SA. Phytochemistry, Traditional Uses and Pharmacological Profile of Rose Hip: A Review. Current pharmaceutical design. 2018;24(35):4101-24.
15. Hu XY, Corp N, Quicke J, Lai L, Blondel C, Stuart B, et al. Rosa canina fruit (rosehip) for osteoarthritis: a cochrane review. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage. 2018;26:S344.
16. Cassidy A, Abdelhamid A, Kay C, Rimm EB, Cohn JS, Kroon PA, et al. Effects of chocolate, cocoa, and flavan-3-ols on cardiovascular health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2012;95(3):740-51.
17. Bauer SR, Ding EL, Smit LA. Cocoa Consumption, Cocoa Flavonoids, and Effects on Cardiovascular Risk Factors: An Evidence-Based Review. Current Cardiovascular Risk Reports. 2011;5(2):120-7.
18. Kobler D, Schuler G, Thiele H, Eitel I, Schmidt J, Sareban M, et al. Effect of Cocoa Products on Blood Pressure: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. American Journal of Hypertension. 2010;23(1):97-103.
19. Jamil SS, Nizami Q, Salam M. Centella asiatica (Linn.) Urban—a review. 2007.
20. Arora D, Kumar M, Dubey S. Centella asiatica-A Review of it's Medicinal Uses and Pharmacological Effects. Journal of Natural remedies. 2002;2(2):143-9.
21. Chong NJ, Aziz Z. A Systematic Review of the Efficacy of Centella asiatica for Improvement of the Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Venous Insufficiency. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2013;2013:10.
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.
23. Rosenfeldt F, Hilton D, Pepe S, Krum H. Systematic review of effect of coenzyme Q10 in physical exercise, hypertension and heart failure. BioFactors. 2003;18(1‐4):91-100.
24. DiNicolantonio JJ, Bhutani J, McCarty MF, O'Keefe JH. Coenzyme Q10 for the treatment of heart failure: a review of the literature. Open Heart. 2015;2(1):e000326.
25. Rabago G, Hernandez-Estefania R, de Frutos F, Gea A. Prophylactic treatment with coenzyme Q10 in patients undergoing cardiac surgery: could an antioxidant reduce complications? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Interactive CardioVascular and Thoracic Surgery. 2014;20(2):254-9.
26. Sweeney B, Vora M, Ulbricht C, Basch E. Evidence-Based Systematic Review of Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) by Natural Standard Research Collaboration. Journal of Herbal Pharmacotherapy. 2005;5(1):79-93.
27. Martinez M, Poirrier P, Chamy R, Prüfer D, Schulze-Gronover C, Jorquera L, et al. Taraxacum officinale and related species—An ethnopharmacological review and its potential as a commercial medicinal plant. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2015;169:244-62.
28. Schütz K, Carle R, Schieber A. Taraxacum—A review on its phytochemical and pharmacological profile. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2006;107(3):313-23.
29. Ogbonmwan I, Mathers JC, Lara J, Siervo M. Inorganic Nitrate and Beetroot Juice Supplementation Reduces Blood Pressure in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. The Journal of Nutrition. 2013;143(6):818-26.
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