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The link between Chronic Kidney Disease and Coeliac Disease

https://www.fau.eu/2017/08/07/news/research/important-messenger-substances-in-the-immune-system/

Coeliac Disease might not be one of the first things that comes to mind when we hear the term “Chronic Kidney Disease”, but there are some interesting links between the two diseases, and the increasing incidence of Coeliac Disease globally makes this a topic worth discussing, especially for those of you who have been diagnosed with either disease, or have a family history of them.

 

Coeliac Disease is on the rise…

The estimated rate of Coeliac Disease worldwide is 1%. That’s 1 in every 100 people. The fact that this rate is increasing and that there is a strong genetic link suggest that we can expect this figure to rise. The fact that we do not understand the mechanisms responsible for this increase means there is not a lot we can do at this stage to prevent it.

 

CD vs CKD…

Coeliac Disease is a complex and as yet not well understood autoimmune disease, however the predisposing factors are clear. Sufferers must experience a combination of genetic, immune and environmental factors for the disease to develop. It cannot develop without dietary exposure to the protein gluten, and can only be managed by removing this trigger.

 

Chronic Kidney Disease, although the majority of cases can be attributed to high blood pressure and diabetes, can develop as a result of many different factors, including autoimmune conditions, urinary tract infections, congenital malformations (meaning they are present at birth), physical obstructions of the urinary tract or prostatitis, and many other inflammatory and genetic conditions. Diet and nutrition can be of great benefit in reversing kidney disease as we know, but it is rarely the direct cause of the condition.

 

The conditions do not appear related do they? But a cohort study published by Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, which investigated the link between any form of glomerulonephritis, dialysis treatment and kidney transplantation and Coeliac Disease, has found statistical significance associating CD with an increased risk of Glomerulonephritis and renal failure.

https://academic.oup.com/ndt/article/21/7/1809/1821933

On the surface, the 2 diseases appear to be completely unrelated, so let’s look below the surface…

 

What are the links between the diseases?

In a nutshell, it appears that immune characteristics are at the core of the connection between these 2 common and very serious diseases.

There is currently a lot of scientific interest in the gut (our gastrointestinal tract), it’s mechanisms of immune regulation and that factors of modern life that present a threat to the delicate balance that it serves to maintain. In the gut resides the gut-associated lymphoid tissue, or GALT. This makes up around 70% of our body’s immune cells – 70%! If this balance is compromised therefore, so is our immune system and its’ ability to protect us from disease. I will not go into too much depth about the role of GALT in this article, and to be honest there is still an awful lot we do not yet know about what goes on in there! But here is what we do know about the gut, and the similarities that have been found between Coeliac Disease and Chronic Kidney Disease sufferers.

 

Activated Immune System 

The mucosal immune system exists in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract and serves as our first line of defence against harmful pathogens, just as our skin does. It is an entire ecosystem made up of a complex network of immune cells and beneficial bacteria. Like any ecosystem, it relies on adequate nutrition, hydration and other factors to thrive and maintain homeostasis, or ‘balance’. When this barrier is compromised, protective mechanisms are initiated, one of which is the production and secretion of Secretory Immunoglobulin A (IgA). Almost 100% of Coeliac Disease patients have these antibodies present, and it appears that this same mucosal immune mechanism is also active in many forms of glomerulonephritis.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2249.1992.tb07947.x

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2016.00240/full

Gut permeability 

Tight junctions are part of the structural component of the mucosal immune system in the gut wall. They prevent toxins and harmful bacteria from entering the blood stream. Essentially, it’s what separates our internal environment from the outside world, so it’s pretty important! If these tight junctions are damaged, unwanted pathogens enter the systemic circulation and cause inflammation and oxidative stress throughout the body. This has been linked, as both a cause and effect, to generalised autoimmune diseases including Coeliac Disease.

Studies have shown that a loss in kidney function can also reduce the effectiveness of the intestinal barrier, allowing pathogens to enter the bloodstream and potentially increase the decline of kidney function. Conversely, an impaired intestinal barrier can potentially lead to autoimmune kidney diseases in susceptible individuals due to the inflammation and oxidative stress caused by the failure of the body’s first line of defence.

 

Image source: https://uncexchanges.org/2017/04/03/leaky-gut-a-potential-contributor-to-the-brain-gut-microbiota-axis/

https://academic.oup.com/ndt/article/16/3/513/1823041

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6071212/

Auto-antibodies 

What are auto-antibodies you ask? These are similar to the antibodies our immune systems produce to fight invading pathogens, but autoantibodies are produced when the immune system mistakenly identifies its’ own tissue as the foreign invader. Auto = Self. This is what happen in autoimmune disease. Being an auto-immune condition, auto-antibodies are raised in Coeliac Disease, and studies have shown the same auto-antibodies to be present in renal disease.

https://www.karger.com/Article/PDF/13497

What are the main threats to our internal environment?

  • Overuse of antibiotics and mediations
  • Stress
  • Chemicals in our food, water and environment
  • Pathogenic bacteria from food water and the environment
  • Poor diet
  • Genetics
  • Methods of birth and infant feeding

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5483960/

 

In Conclusion…

As with CD, the incidence of end stage kidney disease is on the increase globally, the underlying causes of which are still largely unknown. Many other chronic, autoimmune and immune related conditions are also on the rise. There are of course theories which speculate on this phenomenon, such as industrialisation, the hygiene hypothesis, overuse of antibiotics, the quality and preparation of the modern diet, stress and infections to name a few, but at the end of the day there are no definitive answers and therefore no definitive solutions.

With the growing body of evidence linking the gut to a myriad of health conditions, looking after our internal ecosystem seems like a pretty logical place to start in preventative health and disease management though. Don’t you agree?

http://www.worldgastroenterology.org/publications/e-wgn/e-wgn-expert-point-of-view-articles-collection/the-global-village-of-celiac-disease-and-its-evolution-over-time

 

 

Preventing and Treating Urinary Tract Infections – Naturally

Urinary Tract Infections, or UTI’s, are one of those annoying and embarrassing things that people don’t really like to talk about too much, but they are surprisingly common. In fact they are estimated to affect around 150 million people worldwide every year!

I would like to discuss how to prevent UTI’s because as well as being extremely uncomfortable, they can pose a threat to the kidneys. Even in an uncomplicated UTI (that is one where there are no other abnormalities of the urinary system), there is a likelihood that the bacteria will travel further up the urinary tract into the kidneys, but in complicated UTI’s (where there are other issues relating to the urinary system including renal disease), infections become more likely.

The most common symptoms of a UTI are feeling like you need to urinate more often, a painful burning feeling after urinating, getting up during the night to urinate, and smelly or cloudy urine. If there is fever, shakiness or lower back pain, this may indicate the infection has spread to the kidneys, in which case urgent medical attention is needed.

 

Image source: https://www.healthnavigator.org.nz

 

Often, antibiotics are prescribed to treat UTI’s, which usually gets rid of the infection and symptoms, but unfortunately antibiotics also negatively affect the good bacteria which actually help protect us from unwanted bacteria. This imbalance in bacteria then creates an environment that is favourable to drug-resistant pathogens, and so recurrence of UTI’s can become a vicious cycle.

Sometimes antibiotics cannot be avoided, but here are some tips and strategies to give you the best chance of avoiding needing them , and hopefully avoiding contracting a UTI I the first place:

Tips & Strategies 

Hygiene – UTI’s are more prevalent in women which is why some of these tips are specific to women’s hygiene.

  • Wiping from front to back after using the toilet
  • Empty the bladder fully
  • Wearing cotton underwear and avoiding tight clothing around the area
  • Always urinate as soon as possible after intercourse

 

Protect and support the microbiome – Several strains of probiotics have been researched and shown to be beneficial by promoting resistance to UTI’s by stimulating immunity. There are many different brands and combinations of strains available now, but look out for these strains on the bottle:

  • Lactobacillus plantarum HEAL9
  • Lactobacillus paracasei 8700:2
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • Bifidobacterium animalis spp lactis.
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1
  • Lactobacillus reuteri B-54

 

Herbal Medicine – There are many herbal medicines that can help support immunity and prevent and treat UTI’s. Herbal teas can be extremely effective as well as they go straight to the place we want them to! Try your local health food store to see if any of these are available.

  • Astragalus – Immune enhancing and diuretic, this herb supports the immune system and increases urine flow to eliminate bacteria.
  • Echinacea – This well-known herb can be used to help support the immune system as well as reduce inflammation and soothe irritated tissues in the urinary tract.
  • Corn Silk – This herb soothes the mucous membranes of the urinary tract as well as increasing urine flow. Even using the silk straight from a cob of corn steeped in hot water can help in an emergency!
  • Couch Grass – Another wonderful soothing and diuretic herb to help prevent bacteria accumulating and promote healing.
  • Buchu – Buchu is a urinary antiseptic which gives is amazing properties from preventing and treating UTI’s.
  • Shepherd’s Purse – Another urinary antiseptic, this herb also has anti-inflammatory properties which make it a valuable treatment.
  • Medicinal mushrooms – Not all mushrooms are created equal! These varieties enhance immunity and help prevent recurrent infection. Some of the best are Reishi, Cordyceps and Coriolus.

 

Support immune health through diet –

  • Vitamin C and zinc help decrease the severity and duration of an infection as well as help heal the tissues and prevent scarring. Citrus fruits, kiwifruit, capsicum, nuts and seeds are some of the best wholefood sources of these nutrients, but you may also want to supplement during periods of illness to support healing and recovery.
  • Avoid sugar! Sugars and refined carbohydrates can impair immune function and feed bacteria. Sugar also created an acidic environment that bacteria thrive in.

 

Prevent bacteria from adhering and colonising –

  • The bacteria that is present in a UTI thrives in the acidic environment. Keeping the urine alkaline during an infection will help stop the bacteria from colonising and spreading. There are commercial urinary alkalisers available, but in an emergency you can also drink ½ – 1 teaspoon of bi carb soda (not baking soda), in a glass of water 3-4 times per day.
  • Cranberry – Another herbal medicine that has been shown to prevent the bacteria from adhering to the wall of the urinary tract is Cranberry. You can take this in juice form, but avoid juices with sugar added (cranberry is quite tart!) as the sugar will feed the bacteria. If you are prone to UTI’s or kidney stones, you might want to take a quality cranberry tablet regularly instead as a preventative measure.

 

Flush toxins out of the urinary system –

  • As simple as it sounds, drinking enough water is the most important thing you can do to help prevent and resolve a UTI. Without adequate water, the bacteria will simply not leave the urinary system. How much you need to drink depends on several factors including body size, climate and whether or not you are a dialysis patient, in which case you need to discuss this with your doctor. For those who do not have a restriction on their water intake though, at least 2 litres per day is a good amount to focus on.

 

**As with any herbal medicines, make sure you talk with your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any other medications.

Seven Simple Home Remedies that can Help Stop the Progression of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

The purpose of this article is to share some simple strategies that can prevent CKD leading to kidney failure and the need for dialysis. But to understand how to stop the kidneys from deteriorating, we first need to be clear about what CKD actually is…

“Kidney Disease” – Quite simply, the kidneys have become damaged and cannot perform their function of filtering the blood properly.

“Chronic” – this means the condition worsens over a period of time.

So, that is the bad news, but you already knew that, right? Well, the good news is that if we understand the causes and risk factors of CKD, we can then modify these, potentially even removing them from the picture… and in the process stop the progression of CKD!

Now, there can be many causes of CKD, but there are some conditions that can increase the risk of developing it or increase the risk of existing CKD leading to kidney failure. Even if you do not suffer any of these conditions now, developing one of the following conditions will put your kidneys under more pressure. If you do suffer from one or more of these conditions, or if you have a family history of any of them, it is even more important that you continue reading this article. So here are the big three risk factors:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes (Type 1 or 2) or insulin resistance
  • Heart disease

These are three of the most common health issues in developed countries today and are rapidly increasing in developing countries as well. What is even more worrying is that as well as becoming more prevalent, they are beginning to appear earlier in life.

Before I tell you about to remedies the stop the progression of kidney disease though, it needs to be said that all modern chronic diseases such as the ones listed above are largely preventable through diet, nutrition and exercise, and it is NEVER too late to make improvements to our behaviours around how we eat and exercise… but that is not what I want to talk about today.

It may be that your genetics, your current state of health, or your continued diet and lifestyle choices are predisposing you to these conditions, and this is certainly true for chronic kidney disease. In other words, having CKD means you are more likely to develop high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease, but developing any of these conditions first can increase the likelihood of developing kidney disease if you are genetically predisposed. This goes to show just how important it is to use preventative strategies to avoid these common health complications.

Adjust your diet and lifestyle by all means! But there are extra measures you can easily incorporate into your daily life if you are serious about taking control of your health and preventing or stopping the progression of CKD.

I know how hard it can be to change habits, but it is likely that there are things you are doing in your daily life that are contributing to the risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease… after all, that is why these conditions are becoming so prevalent, because our modern dietary and lifestyle choices do not match our ancient genes.

We are always being told to add exercise, add medication, add supplements, add stress reduction techniques… all the changes are enough to cause more stress! So, to make it easier to adopt these remedies into daily life, I have researched the best ones that we can all use to REPLACE our current detrimental habits with ones that improve our health. You do not need to use all of these remedies every day, but next time you reach for a cup of coffee, make a conscious effort to replace it with one of the remedies I am about to share with you.

These are time proven, well documented, simple daily practices that will have you feeling better, strengthen your immune system, reduce inflammation and stop the decline of your health. When incorporated into a healthy diet and lifestyle, they can stop the progression of chronic kidney disease.

 

The Remedies

When you wake up, your body should be well rested, but it has gone around eight or more hours without any water! Hydrating your cells is the first thing you should do when you wake up. But there are simple ways you can turn a glass of water into a simple yet powerful remedy to nourish your body and support your kidneys.

Now we all know water is important, but when our kidneys are struggling, we do not want to add any extra pressure. Do not be in a hurry and do not feel you need to flood your body first thing in the morning. On a side note, please try to drink filtered water so that you are not adding any more chemicals or pathogens for your body to deal with.

 

1. Apple Cider Vinegar (unfiltered)

 This is an age-old remedy that has regained some status in recent years. Many people have this in their pantry already; if not, it is widely available in health food stores, supermarkets and even some pharmacies. Make sure it is unfiltered though, as it is the cloudy sediment, also known as “the mother”, that provides the health benefits of ACV.