We tend to look at weight as an aesthetic issue. It affects the way I see myself in the mirror. In reality the consequences of excess weight extend far beyond mere aesthetics. Let us look at the effect of weight on your kidneys.
The kidneys are remarkable organs responsible for filtering waste and excess fluids from the blood, thus regulating electrolyte balance and blood pressure. Their role in maintaining homeostasis is pivotal. However, the intricate balance is disrupted in individuals carrying excess weight, leading to the potential onset of kidney impairment. We see this in our practice everyday, where people come in with impaired kidneys. An impaired kidney begins to manifest as a lower eGFR number. eGFR is the rate at which your kidney is able to filter blood. The lower the number, the less effectively your kidney is able to function.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a common consequence of obesity. The kidneys play a pivotal role in regulating blood pressure. However, excess weight disrupts this system, leading to an abnormal increase in blood pressure. A study conducted at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons revealed that obesity-related hypertension places undue stress on the delicate filtering units of the kidneys, known as nephrons, accelerating kidney damage over time. Thus, a vicious cycle ensues - obesity contributes to hypertension, which, in turn, damages the kidneys, culminating in a dangerous spiral of impairment.
Adipose tissue, commonly referred to as body fat, is not merely an inert storage depot but a metabolically active organ. Adipose tissue secretes various molecules called adipokines, some of which have detrimental effects on kidney function. Leptin a hormone, is elevated in obesity and contributes to insulin resistance and inflammation.
The kidneys rely on an intricate network of nephrons to filter blood and eliminate waste. In obesity, the kidneys experience an increased workload due to the higher metabolic demands of excess body weight. This results in a phenomenon called glomerular hyperfiltration, wherein the filtering units work overtime to accommodate the excess load. Over time, this hyperfiltration leads to structural changes in the kidneys, ultimately contributing to impairment.
The hidden connection between excess weight and kidney impairment is a sobering reminder that our body and all its organs are interconnected. I know most of us think of weight as an optical issue. The truth is very different.
Ritesh Bawri is the founder of BreatheAgain, a global lifestyle platform helping people live a long and healthy life.