Why the UTI?


There seem to be two types of UTI people.  Either someone has chronic, recurring UTIs (Urinary Tract Infection) or they have never had them until they got pregnant or took antibiotics or had their gallbladder removed.  It actually is surprising that there aren't more people that suffer from urinary tract infections, bladder infections and kidney issues. In fact, it's miraculous given the amount of bacteria and toxic substances that the kidneys must filter at the rate of 1200 ml per minute, which is essentially 20-25% of your total blood circulation pumped by the heart.

The kidneys not only provide the back-up to the filtration functions of the liver, but they also control fluid balance (edema), how many electrolytes you have at your disposal in the blood and tissues, and how many acids are in the body (lactic, pyruvic).  They help to regulate blood glucose (sugar) levels and at the same time they are releasing hormones which have some very important results. 

Calcitriol is the final stage of vitamin D synthesis and it stimulates the small intestine to absorb calcium and phosphates, essential to bone development. At the same time it stimulates osteoblasts to make collagen. 

Erythropoietin (say that 5 times fast!) is essential to guide baby red blood cells to maturity keeping your blood full of oxygen.  As a side note it is one of the most favored substances in blood doping of athletes because it increases their capacity for endurance by increasing oxygen-carrying red blood cells.

The last hormone is a safety measure, Renin.  When the kidneys do not get sufficient blood flow, renin begins a cascade of effects that result in constricting blood vessels and increasing pressure to push blood towards the kidneys more effectively.  This may be a strong aspect of chronic high blood pressure.  In fact, high blood pressure is almost always related to the kidneys.  This is so they can continue their purpose of filtering and recycling essential substances from the blood and eliminating toxins and acids into the urine for excretion.

The flow of urine from the body is essential to maintain water balance and to eliminate toxins. Within the urine are large amounts of acids and bacteria, which if held too long within the system can damage the lining of the urinary tract or bladder, causing irritation, incontinence and pain. Diuretics are substances that slow the reabsorption of water by the kidneys and bring about an elevated urine flow rate. Naturally occurring diuretics include caffeine and alcohol. It is also possible that water can be forced through the kidneys in large amounts this way, causing dehydration of body tissues and particularly within the intestinal tract. Paying attention to proper hydration and water balance issues is crucial to proper kidney function and to reduce bacterial accumulation. Without sufficient hydration, urine becomes highly concentrated, blood becomes thicker, intestinal material moves more slowly and every cell becomes less flexible.  So constipation may be a signal that the kidneys and urinary tract are in distress. 

With aging, the kidneys shrink in size, have lowered blood flow and filter less blood. Because the sensation of thirst diminishes with age as well, older individuals are susceptible to dehydration. This makes urinary tract infections much more common among the elderly, as is excessive urine production, urination at night, painful urination and blood in the urine. Prostate issues also affect urine release and the build-up of bacteria and toxins within the urinary system. Occasionally the crystals of salts present in urine precipitate and solidify into insoluble kidney stones. These crystals are most often calcium salts, which have not been absorbed by the body tissues, forcing them through the kidneys for excretion.

Now I say that this is all with aging, but the truth is that many younger people also have similar conditions.  Many people have stopped drinking water in favor of alternative beverages.  I have so many patients that are doing the green tea thing, thinking that it's hydrating.  In fact tea is a diuretic so whatever water may be there is eliminated quite quickly ... how fast do you need to pee after drinking tea I ask you?

Women with a history of chronic infections, people who for a million reasons hold their urine for long periods of time, those with stones, calcium deposits, even bone spurs, are all on the way to bladder problems, kidney distress and incontinence.  The time to pay attention to the kidneys is before the kidneys need attention.  Drinking diluted cranberry juice, taking cranberry concentrate, peeing when needed, maintaining proper bowel regularity and controlling diuretics while increasing water, are all great ways to nourish and support the kidneys.  Remember that just because you started in diapers doesn't mean you have to end up in them!