I would like to introduce to you to a fellow naturopath, Joel Le Blac. Joel hails from the land of Hobbits, Elves, and Wizards… New Zealand (for those of you who don’t know, the Lord of the Rings was filmed here).
I am really excited to welcome Joel’s expertise on my website, as it adds further experience and knowledge for you to benefit from. Why have I decided to welcome Joel in particular to my website? Well, Joel is a practicing herbalist and owner of a natural health clinic in NZ, he is an accomplished writer in many health magazines and journals (and poet I might add), and has a particular interest in kidney health.
So if you could please give Joel a huge welcome…
Organic fruit and vegetables seem to be a cleaner and greener food choice, but does choosing organic actually provide any health benefits for your kidneys? For years, the research on whether or not organic foods are better for you has vacillated. I’ve seen studies that shown purchasing organic foods makes absolutely no benefit to human health, while still yet there are studies that show organic foods are significantly higher in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, while also being lower in pesticides and bacteria.
In one particular study that always stayed with me, scientists in Spain found that organic strawberries had 76% more vitamin C than non-organic strawberries. Considering that many people eat strawberries for their high vitamin C and antioxidant levels, it’s good to know.
Recently, though, Stanford University came along and burst the bubble of organic foodies everywhere. After looking at a whopping 223 studies on organic foods, the boys (and girls) at Standford University concluded that there was little difference in the nutrition of organic vs. non-organic foods. With two exceptions — phosphorus and omega-3. (keep reading if you want to know why it is important to go organic).
I would like to introduce to you once again, registered nurse, Lynda Lampert. Lynda’s article The Definitive Guide To Dialysis: Types Of Dialysis, Indications, Side-Effects And More got a great reponse, so I have asked her back to continue where she left off. I have asked her talk to about the guidelines for a healthy hemodialysis diet. She jumped at the chance to talk to you, so please welcome Lynda back…
As a nurse in a hospital, I got the chance to see many patients come and go who were on hemodialysis for kidney failure. Most of the time, patients go to dialysis and have no problems with it, but when I got to see them, it was usually because something went wrong.
Unfortunately, this is often caused by patient noncompliance with treatment. The number one reason for patients to end up in my hospital, in my unit was because they skipped a dialysis day. The close second reason was that they did not follow their hemodialysis diet plan.
Hemodialysis and diet go hand in hand. If you do not follow the recommendations set down for you by your kidney doctor and your dietician, you will end up in the hospital. It’s just that simple. Your kidneys are the organ that filters all the waste and fluid from your body. They regulate the various chemicals that can harm you when present in great amounts. When you don’t have your kidneys to protect you, you have to carefully monitor what you put into your system. Don’t give your kidneys more problems than they already have. If you follow these guidelines for eating correctly on hemodialysis, you will have a smooth sailing treatment experience.
When you are told you have kidney disease, your doctor will most likely put you on a fluid restriction. This is because the kidneys are just not able to move the fluid off of your body. When you drink too much fluid, a number of symptoms will appear:
• Weight gain
• Shortness of breath
• Congestive heart failure
• High blood pressure
These symptoms are all because the fluid is backing up in your system and causing it to work harder than it normally would have to. This is why it is so important to follow the hemodialysis diet restrictions that your care team sets for you. You could literally drown yourself with water if you do not heed your restrictions. Common restrictions are for:
• 1000 mL
• 1500 mL
• 2000 mL
• 2500 mL
Your doctor will determine which level you need by evaluating your kidney function and how well hemodialysis will remove water from your body. You cannot move these numbers about or learn from the internet how much to drink. Instead, you must have an honest discussion with your doctor about how much you can drink. They use a complicated algorithm based on your medical history to determine your fluid levels. Remember, fluids includes:
Let’s get one thing straight, you NEED potassium, even in kidney disease. Further to that, you do not need to run for the hills if a certain food has high potassium levels. Eating a well balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables is a GOOD thing, and may even help you reverse your kidney disease…
Confused because it goes against everything you have read and have been told? Don’t be, there is good reason, and I’ll do my best to explain…
The purpose of this article: to dispel the mis-conceptions around lowering potassium in kidney disease; detail simple easy to follow steps on how to lower potassium levels naturally through diet and other techniques; to educate you on all things potassium, so the next time you are in front of your doctor you can keep up, and maybe even teach him or her a thing or two.
What Is Potassium And Why Do I Need It?
If you are new to this blog, it is important to know that before I start to get too deep into subject matter, I like first to bring it back a little so I can discuss the fundamentals. This gives you a good frame work to understand some of the principles that I talk about, and allows you to make better judgment calls when I, or your doctor, says something. This allows you to be in control of your health. The way it should be, yes?
What is potassium?
• Potassium at its most basic level is a soft silvery-white metal (mineral), sharing a very similar chemical structure to sodium. Behind only to calcium and phosphorus, it is the most abundant of all the minerals totalling 225 grams of your body weight – that’s the weight of the palm of your hand.
• Potassium is also known as an ‘electrolyte’, due to its ability to be electrically conductive. An important feature in the human body, considering you and I are a network of electrical pulses.
• Potassium naturally occurs in nature, and is found present in many foods (see further on for a list of foods).
• Potassium is 19th on the periodic table (K is the chemical symbol for Potassium in Latin)
• Fact: 1/3 of the body’s total energy is required to hold the location of potassium and sodium in and around our cells.
• Note: Normal serum potassium levels are: 3.5 and 5.5 mEq/L (reference range)
Why do I need it?
Our body depends on this mineral for its survival… no potassium, no humans. Amazingly through our evolution we have utilized the earth from which we have sprung to carry out and allow certain functions to occur in the body. You may have heard that potassium is good for the heart, good for muscle contractions, and therefore good for lowering blood pressure, and even that it is beneficial in nerve conduction. All of which are true, but there is so much more that this mineral does for you.
Here is a list of other health benefits and actions of Potassium:
• Regulates pH balance
• Helps to thin the blood
• Maintains water/fluid balance
• Eye health
• Increases secretion of hormones: ADH, FSH and aldosterone
• Regulates blood sugar
• Aids protein synthesis
• Regulates cell permeability
• Acts as a capacitor within our cells to store energy
You have kidney disease, you want to eat healthy, and you’ve been told one of the best ways to do so is to eat a low sugar diet. In an effort to do so you turn to “diet” drinks (and foods), you look at the nutritional panel and see there are ZERO sugars present in the drink.
You have no reason to doubt that this food or drink is not healthy for you, you put your trust in the FDA (or your government) to make sure all foods and drinks that are “passed” are healthy and safe for you and your family… And so it will come as a shock when I tell you that studies have now proven diet drinks are harmful to your kidneys.
In a study conducted by Dr Julie Lin and Dr Gary Curhan of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, 3000 women over 11 years were studied to see what effect drinking two or more diet drinks had on kidney function.
After taking into consideration high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, age, and heart disease, the clinical study clearly showed that two or more serves of diet drinks a day doubles the risk of more-rapid-than-normal kidney function decline. “In women with well-preserved kidney function, higher dietary sodium intake was associated with greater kidney function decline, which is consistent with experimental animal data that high sodium intake promotes progressive kidney decline.” said Dr Julie Lin.
What the study does not tell us however is what aspect of the diet drink actually causes the declining kidney function; the two possibilities being, the sodium content and the artificial sweetener aspartame. “While more study is needed, our research suggests that higher sodium and artificially sweetened soda intake are associated with greater rate of decline in kidney function.” said Dr Julie Lin.
Artificial Sweetener? More Like Artificial Poison
It is my belief however that the major player in causing the decline in kidney function is artificial sweeteners (especially aspartame – the most common artificial sweetener). The overwhelming proof and evidence shows that aspartame is in no way safe for human consumption at any level.
In today’s article I want to talk to you about chronic renal failure; what it is, what causes it, the best blood tests, and a whole lot more. However, today I want to do something a little different, I want to break it down in to an A to Z guide so you can quickly reference the major key topics – so in that way you have a valuable resource to refer back to in the future.
Chronic renal failure is an interesting condition, it affects 2 out of every 1,000 people in the United States; 11% of all deaths in Australia are due to, or associated with, renal failure; 20 to 30 percent of people with diabetes will develop kidney disease; 1 in 9 adults have a minimum of one renal failure sign or symptom; it is one the quickest growing diseases in the world… yet it is still largely not a condition that many understand, or have been appropriately informed about.
But before I go into any specifics with this condition, I wanted to quickly define exactly what I am referring to when I say “Chronic Renal Failure”. For the purposes of this article, chronic renal failure means any dis-ease of the kidneys that causes diminishment of kidney function, as shown by an estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate test (eGFR). In contrast, the term “End Stage Renal Failure” only describes kidneys that have a kidney function of less than 15%.
The Ultimate A-Z Guide To Chronic Renal Failure
A is for Alkaline
Alkalinity is an important concept to understand and implement when dealing with chronic kidney failure. Alkalinity is a must for your body’s tissues to survive and thrive. In fact, your body will do anything it can to keep your blood pH in the narrow window of 7.35 to 7.45pH – your body will literally break down its bones for the calcium contained within them to keep your body alkaline!
Normally however, keeping the body acid/alkaline balance within your body is the job of the kidneys. When your kidneys begin to diminish in function so too does their ability to excrete the acid and maintain the alkalinity in your blood. Therefore eating an alkaline diet is the best way to protect and improve the health of your kidneys.
To add further strain on already strained kidneys, many of today’s lifestyle choices are acid forming as well as changes to our environment:
- Diet: e.g. alcohol, sugar, coffee, red meat, grains
- Chemicals: e.g. industrial chemicals, cleaning products, paint, makeup and cosmetics
- Heavy metals
- Excess exercise
- Sedentary lifestyle
For more information on alkalinity and the alkaline diet, please see my article here.
- Monitors the progression of your condition
- Tracks that your treatments are working
- Informs you of any abnormal developments in your health
- Allows you to tailor your diet to suit your needs e.g. potassium, phosphorus, sodium, vitamin D, and calcium levels
- By knowing the current state of your body, and understanding that state, you’re better equipped to make positive changes. It is shown people feel more in control and are more likely to make the changes when they understand their condition and all facets related to their condition.
- It will show you your current percentage of kidney function
The best blood tests to assess your renal failure are:
- Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR)
- 24hr creatinine clearance
- Kidney biopsy
Please see my article here for a detailed description of each test in chronic renal failure: Top 7 Kidney Tests To Measure Your Kidney Function
Other important tests include: Potassium levels, Sodium levels, Phosphate levels, Vitamin D levels, Calcium levels, Parathyroid hormone levels, and Hemoglobin levels.