Diabetes and the kidneys

Two-thirds of our blood volume flows through our two kidneys in one minute to be cleansed of waste matter that has arisen from our tissue cells, from metabolizing the foods that we have consumed to replace themselves or for the production of energy and heat. One common waste matter is urea. Salts eaten in excess are also removed through kidneys. Thus kidneys are vital to the keeping of our body fluids in a “clean” and well-balanced state of salt and water.

Kidneys also conserve glucose. When glucose does not exceed 160 to 180 mg/DL in the blood, it is conserved in the kidneys. This is called the renal threshold of the kidney for blood glucose. However, when blood glucose exceeds 180mg/DL, the kidneys are unable to conserve the excess glucose. This excess glucose is lost through the kidneys with an excessive amount of water. This results in the diabetic patient passing large volumes of sweet urine. The passing of large volumes of sweet urine is termed diabetes (large volume of urine) mellitus (sweet).

Diabetes mellitus has been recognized from early days by the Greeks. They described the disease appropriately as “a melting down of the flesh and limb into (sweet) urine”, including the kidneys, which are themselves poisoned by this excessive amount of unutilized glucose. Kidney failure is a common cause of death among diabetics.

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