Innovative Strategies for Kidney Health
Ray was 56 years old and facing dialysis. A recent diagnosis of type 2 diabetes had him in a downward spiral of blood sugar issues, pain in his feet, and now kidney failure! Leading up to this, Ray’s prediabetes and nearly “normal” blood sugar allowed his kidney damage to go unrecognized.
Even when diabetes is not full blown, high sugar levels in prediabetes can cause problems throughout the body.
One of the main organs damaged by high blood sugar is the kidney. Over time, the high levels of sugar in the blood damage the millions of tiny filtering units within each kidney. This eventually leads to kidney failure.
The heart, and nerve cells are also sensitive to fluctuations in blood sugar because they don’t store any form of energy. Diabetes cannot turn the sugars you eat into useful energy. The consistently high levels of sugar cause a constant supply of oxygen free-radicals that result in gradual damage to the nerves and blood vessels. When the blood vessels in the kidneys are injured, your kidneys cannot clean your blood properly.
Most of the time, those who experience kidney failure already have signs of it before they are even diagnosed with diabetes. In fact, the most common cause of kidney failure is diabetes mellitus (type 2 diabetes).
Since Ray already had signs of renal failure, we immediately started him on intravenous alpha lipoic acid. Alpha lipoid acid is a super nutrient and turns “used” antioxidants into “available” antioxidants for your body to use for making energy.
At the same time, we recommended dietary changes such as eating fewer carbohydrates, and drinking water instead of soda. He also needed to give up beer and ice cream.
How Your Kidneys Work
Protecting your kidneys is so important. Our kidneys are the constant filter of the body. Healthy kidneys maintain all the things our cells need to function in the blood, while letting go of waste and toxins. The design is amazing!
- Blood runs through a filter (5)
- Filtered water goes down the tube (4)
- Blood, protein stay in vessels (3)
- Water and nutrients leak out into the kidney tissue (2)
- Nutrients that the body wants are re-absorbed into blood vessels (1)
- Waste is sent to the bladder (6)
First, there are millions of filters called the glomeruli. These tiny filters let fluid out of the blood, but keep cells and proteins. The glomeruli function very much like a coffee filter. Whatever is dissolved in the water of your blood goes through the filter, but particles stay in the blood. Then, the fluid goes through tubes where sodium, potassium, amino acids, water, and so forth, are re-absorbed into the blood. Your kidneys will release them to return to the body when the need arises.
All that is left is a little water and filtered wastes, which then move down to the bladder and are released into the toilet (or wherever☺) as urine.
Essentially, each of your glomeruli acts like a sieve that helps keep normal proteins and cells in your bloodstream and allows wastes, excess fluid and other substances to pass. In this way, your kidneys regulate your body’s level of these substances.
The remarkable nature of this system is that it allows the body to keep all the nutrients it needs, while allowing any sort of waste or toxin to be washed out of the body. The kidneys don’t have to know what is bad, only what is good – waste is whatever is not wanted.
It is essential that we consider the health of our kidneys. According to CDC data, since 1999, the age-adjusted death rate for kidney disease has increased by 11.5 percent, compared to downward trends for heart attacks and strokes. Of course, most of these are due to the increasing rate of diabetes, but there are many with renal failure who don’t have diabetes.
Another Cause of Kidney Failure
Sometimes the filters (glomeruli) don’t work for other reasons. Josie came in with swelling of the legs and feet. She had been to several doctors and was told she had Nephrotic Syndrome: damage to the clusters of small blood vessels in your kidneys that filter waste and excess water from your blood.
This damage allows protein normally kept in the blood to leak into the urine in large amounts, which reduces the amount of protein in your blood. Since the protein in the blood helps keep fluid in the bloodstream, some of this fluid leaks out of the bloodstream into your tissues, causing swelling.
Imagine using coffee filters that had little pinholes in them so you keep finding sediment in your coffee. The “pinholes” in the glomeruli of the kidneys are generally caused by what we think are “immune complexes” or autoimmune disease. Antibodies against either the kidneys or other cells can “poke holes” in the filters, causing them to leak.
The problem with kidney failure is that there are no symptoms until about 80% of normal kidney function is lost. This means that, unfortunately, many people never realize they have a kidney problem until a symptom such as back pain or blood in the urine appears. By then, it’s usually too late to restore normal function.
Thus, the key to avoiding kidney disease is PREVENTION!
We had to work with Josie to calm down her immune system and stop the leaks. Then, we restored kidney function just enough so she no longer has swelling. She still loses a little protein in the urine, but the liver can make enough to keep up with it.
The glomeruli are the most important part of the kidney to protect. Like Ray and Josie, most kidney problems are from the waste filters. Protection of your kidneys is not hard, and doesn’t take a great deal of time. You don’t have to think about it, just follow good health practices.
How to Naturally Protect your Kidneys
Two of the most important functions of your kidneys are:
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