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The link between Chronic Kidney Disease and Coeliac Disease

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.

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.

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.


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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.

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


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?



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.


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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.

Ultimate Guide To Lowering Cholesterol Naturally – With Natural Statins (Part 2)

natural statins

Today I would like to talk about the real causes of cardiovascular disease, the connection between kidney disease and cardiovascular disease, and how you can treat them with natural statins. This is the continuation of my previous article entitled: Ultimate Guide To Lowering Cholesterol Naturally – Warning Cholesterol Is Bogus (Part 1) where I discussed The Great Cholesterol Myth.

One of the most surprising realisations for anyone with kidney disease is that it is more common to die from cardiovascular disease than it is to actually die from the kidneys failing*.

*It must be noted that this is not a necessarily your destiny. Your destiny is determined by your actions, and simply by being on this website, reading this article, means that you are in the minority of people that take care of their own health over and above most others. And therefore, by following the simple strategies I have laid out below, you will further your life expectancy, reduce complications and disease, and of course heal your body.

Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death in people with chronic kidney disease.

How is that so? Well, there are a number of reasons, and they are as follows:

•    Arteriosclerosis – the kidneys have a role in regulating calcium levels, when this diminishes calcium build ups in the arteries causing arterial hardening and stiffness.
•    Blood clotting – blooding clotting is more common in those with kidney disease; if a blood clot closes off a blood vessel, this may cause high blood pressure, a heart attack, or stroke.
•    Heart stress – there are many ways in which kidney disease places the heart under extra burden. Namely, the kidneys fail to remove enough fluid from the body causing blood pressure to rise, and fluid to build up around the lungs and heart. Hyperkalemia (high blood potassium) also occurs in kidney disease which causes the heart to beat and contract too rapidly.
•    High blood pressure – the kidneys are the chief organ to regulate blood pressure, mainly through the elimination of fluid. When kidney function declines, so too does their ability to regulate blood pressure.
•    Hyperlipedimia – kidney disease causes LDLs to increase, possibly due to a hormonal imbalance.

On top of these kidney specific causes, cardiovascular disease can be caused by a number of other factors. As discussed in part one of this two part series, cholesterol is not the be all and end all of heart disease, in fact, “cholesterol” is rarely the problem. The real culprits consist of seven “other” cardiovascular markers.

The Real Cardiovascular Health Culprits – And Why They Are Bad

What I am about to tell you is not new and shiny research sorry. In truth, it has been around for decades. You could probably be the hit at your next dinner part by talking about this, but in the complimentary health circles this is old news.

… Probably not the best idea to tell you all that – as people always want the newest scoop, the latest breakthrough, and so forth – but I am here to help you, not dish you out another lot of BS that will keep the current torrent of misinformation circulating throughout the world.

Here are the real culprits that are holding you back:
Note: I have broken down the “culprits” into three sections (1) Definition: (2) Interpretation: & (3) Reference range: This will give you an understanding of: (1) WHAT it is; (2) HOW it affects you; & (3) WHERE your levels need to be for optimal heart health.

1. Elevated ApoB – A.K.A. Apolipoprotein B
–    Definition: Is the primary protein constituent of LDL (low-density lipoproteins) and VLDL (very low-density lipoproteins)
–    Interpretation: Research shows that this is a better marker of heart disease than LDL or Total Cholesterol. This may be tested for instead of LDL
–    Reference range: Optimally <0.9 g/L

2. Elevated High Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein
–    Definition: A protein that increases in direct relationship with increasing inflammation. This protein is produced by the liver
–    Interpretation: Can be an indication of myocardial necrosis; coronary heart disease; increased risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack)
–    Reference range: Only test using the “High Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein” Test, regular C-Reactive Protein Test is very inaccurate.
o    < 1.0 mg/L Low
o    > 1.0 – 3.0 mg/L Moderate
o    > 3.0 mg/L High

Ultimate Guide To Lowering Cholesterol Naturally – Warning Cholesterol Is Bogus (Part 1)

lowering cholesterol naturally

I received a request the other day from one of my readers, Anita, asking me for tips on lowering cholesterol naturally. I thought this was a great topic to write on, given the current state of our world’s cardiovascular health, the many misconceptions of cholesterol, and the connection of cardiovascular disease and kidney disease. For that reason I hope in answering Anita’s question, I can help you too.

Here is what Anita asked me (on facebook):
“Can I request an article on ways to naturally lower cholesterol? Over here, docs are statin-happy, it’s the miracle drug for preventing heart disease. Unfortunately, they are very dangerous for kidney patients (anyone reading this, read the manufacturer’s info… They ALL say, either do not use or monitor with extreme caution with kidney patients). Yet, because hypertension and kidney disease are linked, docs prescribe statins anyway… hypertension opens a person up to heart disease, and so does high cholesterol. So once again, instead of teaching people the right things to eat, they just make a pill for that which might do more damage to a problem kidney patients ALREADY have, in order to prevent a problem we MIGHT get. And no, docs are not necessarily aware of the kidney warning that comes with these drugs… I caught mine red-handed not knowing (and he pulled me off them on the spot when I pointed out their own literature)… but then he tried to put me on a different one. Same problem. And now I know of another person who was put on cholesterol meds when the drug manufacturer said, do not use with kidney patients. So I suspect it’s more common than not, and it would be really helpful to have a natural method to raise LDL and lower HDL. Thanks!”

I must admit, I am fed up hearing about cholesterol (no offence Anita!) and ways on lowering cholesterol naturally.
Despite our increasing awareness of cholesterol and cardiovascular disease, we seem further away from remedying the situation. In Australia, and other developed “western” countries, cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death.

To put it in perspective, one Australian dies from cardiovascular disease every ten minutes; which is just astonishing! And then when you consider Australia is only home to 22 million people you begin to wonder “how many people world-wide are dying from this condition?” Well after doing some “Googling”, I discovered that an estimated 155,000 people worldwide die every single day. 25% of those being due to cardiovascular disease; which equates to one person every 2 seconds!

Not the most “feel good” thought I have put forth, but it does highlight the extraordinary failing in our current sick health care system.

So What’s The Solution To Cardiovascular Disease?

As you can tell from my headline “Ultimate Guide To Lowering Cholesterol Naturally – Warning Cholesterol Is Bogus (Part 1)” I have a love-hate relationship with cholesterol. It is touted as the be all and end all for effective cardiovascular disease management. But as the number of people taking cholesterol lowering medications goes up, the dosage of these medications goes up, and the cholesterol references ranges go down (which seem to be a yearly occurrence), we are still not seeing any significant improvements.

The reason for this is that cholesterol is only part of the picture.

The Great Cholesterol Myth – And How You Have Been Suckered In

The Cholesterol Myth began approximately in 1954-55 when a scientist used rabbits to see the effects that a high cholesterol/high saturated fat diet might have on the human body. The results were considered “conclusive”. A high cholesterol/high saturated fat caused the arteries in rabbits to “clog up”, and therefore meant that this would happen to humans too.

Without thinking a little deeper this conclusion seems logical. BUT the scientist – and the rest of the world – forgot to consider one fundamental difference between the physiology of rabbits and human beings. Rabbits are herbivores, humans are omnivores!

It Is Basic Physiology

Just a small overlook wouldn’t you agree? NOT!

Since the dawn of time human beings physiology has been designed to consume and process cholesterol, rabbits on the other hand have not*.

*The truth is that there are some plants that do, but the quantity is so minute that it is often undetectable.

Every animal on the face of the planet has taken millennia to adapt to its environment, especially what it eats from its environment; knowing this makes this clinical trial quite absurd, doesn’t it?

Kidney Disease Symptoms: The Top Ten Guide (and more…)

Blood Pressure

Kidney disease symptoms… what are they, when do they occur, and why do they occur…?

For many, kidney disease symptoms remain confusing. This however is not surprising…

•    Kidney disease has little awareness amongst the general public, and therefore is largely misunderstood.
•    There are numerous conditions that fall under the ‘kidney disease’ umbrella term, each with their own set of symptoms.
•    Kidney disease can be “acute” or “chronic”.
•    ‘Kidney disease’ is one of many terms that label the same condition. Others terms include: chronic kidney disease, kidney failure, renal failure, renal disease, end-stage-kidney-disease… etc.
•    Kidney disease symptoms rarely show themselves early on in the disease process; hence kidney disease is often called “The Silent Killer”.
•    And surprisingly when kidney disease does enter its final stages, often patients are told that every symptom that they are experiencing is caused by the kidneys.

What Is The Purpose Of This Article?

The purpose of this article is to clarify exactly what the signs and symptoms are for kidney disease. And when I say the signs and symptoms of kidney disease, I mean the signs and symptoms of a kidney that has already begun to diminish in function. Therefore a urinary tract infection that has spread to the kidneys, but has not lowered the kidney function, is not applicable here (for example).

Kidney Disease Symptoms

Below I have listed the most common signs and symptoms resulting from under functioning kidneys. I have also tried, where I believe more information is needed, to explain the reasoning as to why these signs and symptoms occur. This will help you understand your condition better, and by doing so, enable you to heal yourself better.
Note: The following signs and symptoms can occur at any stage of kidney disease, however most individuals begin to experience them at stage 3 or 4*.

*Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is categorised in five distinct stages (based on your level of kidney function) to better help care for kidney disease sufferers. Kidney function is measured by what’s called an Estimated Gromulrular Filatration Rate (eGFR) test (for more information on this, please go here). Here is a brief analysis of each of the five stages:
•    Stage 1 with normal or high GFR     (eGFR > 90 ml/min)
•    Stage 2 Mild CKD             (eGFR = 60-89 ml/min)
•    Stage 3 Moderate CKD         (eGFR = 30-59 ml/min)
•    Stage 4 Severe CKD             (eGFR = 15-29 ml/min)
•    Stage 5 End Stage CKD         (eGFR <15 ml/min)

Symptom 1: Changes In Urination
Changes in urine are common, which makes a lot of sense considering that the kidneys main function is to regulate the body’s chemistry via the urine. These changes include:

–    increased night time urination (aka: nocturia)
–    foamy or bubbly urination (caused by excess protein in the urine)
–    increased/decreased urine output
–    dark yellow/brown urine
–    blood in urine (aka: hematuria)
–    increased urge, or a feeling of pressure on the bladder

Cause: The cause of this symptom is obvious. The kidneys that produce the urine are damaged, and therefore impact the way urine is processed. Out of all the kidney disease symptoms, this is one is probably the most common that I see in clinical practice.

Symptom 2: Fatigue
Feelings of constant fatigue, tiredness, drowsiness, and lethargy.

Cause: There are numerous causes for this symptom:

–    Anemia: the kidneys produce the hormone EPO which is required to produce red blood cells. When the kidneys decrease in function, so too does the production of EPO.
–    Decreased oxygenation: as mentioned above, kidney disease can cause red blood cell production to decrease, when this occurs you have fewer red blood cells to transport life giving oxygenation around the body. On top of this fluid can build up around the lungs causing inhalation difficulty, and therefore drawing in deep, long, oxygenating breaths is a rare occurrence.
–    Adrenal fatigue: The Kidneys And Adrenals Are ONE – Although technically they are not the same organ/gland they are structurally connected, the adrenals produce a hormone call aldosterone which increases the kidneys reabsorption of sodium and water (and elimination of potassium), and from an energetic stand point, are the same.

The adrenal glands literally sit on top of the kidney like a hat – Please refer to following article for a diagram – and because of this, both impact each other. The adrenal glands are your body’s anti-stress/energy centre, by releasing such hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrinecortisol they increase the body’s energy. If the kidneys are not functioning well, then so aren’t the adrenals. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) also refers to these two organs as one. In their philosophy their in no distinction between the two, they are simply known as the ‘kidney’ meridian. The kidney meridian is regarded as the body’s most important reservoir of essential energy. And in the TCM philosophy, the “kidneys” house the body’s will power, control short-term memory, and provide the capacity for drive and strength. A person with deficient “kidneys” will be deficient in potency and stamina.