Eating Mistakes That Can Damage Your Kidneys

by | Nov 19, 2023 | Health Blog | 0 comments

Editor’s Word: This text is a reprint. It was initially printed February 9, 2020.

On this interview, Dr. Lynda Frassetto, a nephrologist and Professor Emeritus within the division of medication at College of California San Francisco (UCSF), shares essential details about how acid in your eating regimen impacts your kidney well being and longevity.

“Once I was in inner drugs coaching, I occurred to have a very tremendous mentor, Dr. Eli Friedman, on the State College of New York (SUNY) in Brooklyn,” Frassetto says. “He made nephrology sound actually attention-grabbing.

And so, after I completed my residency and was a hospitalist for a few years, I made a decision to return and do nephrology, as a result of individuals who did nephrology simply have a greater understanding of physiology than most internists do.

I believed that might assist make me a greater physician. After I completed my fellowship, I began working with Anthony Sebastian right here at UCSF. He was thinking about eating regimen acid load in individuals who have been comparatively wholesome.

The kidneys do plenty of issues. One of many issues they do is that they do away with acid. We all know that as kidney failure progresses, you could have hassle eliminating the acid. It accumulates in your system and has plenty of dangerous negative effects.

We additionally know that, as you become older, your kidneys have a tendency to not work as effectively. What Tony was was, in in any other case wholesome, older individuals — whose kidneys simply aren’t working in addition to they did, to illustrate, 40 or 50 years earlier — does consuming a high-acid eating regimen have any potential negative effects?”

Low-Acid Diets as a Means to Shield Kidney Perform

Within the preliminary phases of their work, Frassetto and Sebastian labored on neutralizing acid within the eating regimen utilizing bicarbonate. Then, simply over a decade in the past, they began low-acid diets. Whereas all meals include precursors that may be metabolized into acids, vegatables and fruits include plenty of alkali precursors which can be metabolized into bicarbonate, like citrate or malate.

Frassetto’s curiosity in low-acid diets started with the paleo eating regimen, promoted by Loren Cordain, Ph.D. In response to Cordain, many meals in our trendy eating regimen have been unavailable to our ancestors, resembling processed grains and sugars.

He believed a eating regimen nearer to our ancestral eating regimen could be more healthy, and one of many causes for it is because any eating regimen excessive in vegatables and fruits (and devoid of processed meals) can be decrease in acid. As defined by Frassetto:

“In case you have a look at any massive inhabitants, and also you simply have a look at the common kidney perform over time, on common, everyone’s kidney perform declines. However should you have a look at particular people, kidney perform both declines way more slowly or could even stage out.

The query is, ‘How associated is that to consuming a low-acid eating regimen or doing issues that would not trouble your kidneys?’ This has really been checked out by Dr. Donald Wesson, a nephrologist at College of Texas (UT) Southwestern.

He is checked out each alkalized dietary supplements and fruits and vegetable diets in individuals with Stage 2 kidney illness, with an estimated glomerular filtration charge (GFR) between 60 and 90, and Stage 3 power kidney illness (CKD), which has an estimated GFR from 30 to 60.

[GFR is] an estimate of kidney perform. So, should you’re 50 years outdated, your GFR is about 90. In case you’re 80 years outdated, your GFR is about 60. On common, people who find themselves older are going to have … Stage 2 or Stage 3 CKD.

Wesson confirmed that in these individuals, should you both give them alkalized dietary supplements like baking soda, or put them on a eating regimen with extra vegatables and fruits, that you can sluggish the speed of decline …

In case you extrapolate that from individuals with kidney failure to only older individuals, the thought could be that, possibly, you possibly can sluggish the speed of decline of your kidney perform, even should you’re in any other case wholesome and simply getting older. That is the thought.

The whole lot that you just do, the whole lot, is expounded to kidney perform in a point. As a result of the kidneys do away with plenty of issues. The more serious the kidneys work, the more serious the whole lot works.”

Fasting Additionally Protects Kidney Perform

In response to Frassetto, most kidney illness in western international locations is extra superior kidney illness attributable to hypertension and Sort 2 diabetes. Three-quarters of sufferers on dialysis are there on account of high blood pressure and diabetes. So, finally, something that helps enhance diabetes and hypertension may even enhance kidney well being.

One technique recognized to considerably decrease your danger of Sort 2 diabetes is fasting, together with time-restricted consuming. I’ve beforehand interviewed Dr. Jason Fung, a nephrologist in Canada, who makes use of fasting to reverse diabetes in his sufferers. Train is one more technique that may decrease your danger of diabetes, and thus shield your kidney well being.

Acid Versus Protein Injury

Acid is not the one factor that may injury your kidneys. Excessive-protein diets may also trigger hurt, because of the ammonia generated. As for which can finally be worse for you — excessive acid or excessive protein — Frassetto explains:

“All proteins include acid precursors. In case you’re consuming a excessive protein load and you do not have sufficient alkali to assist the kidneys both buffer or do away with the acid, then that is finally dangerous on your kidneys. However you do have to eat a specific amount of protein, or you are going to have issues constructing issues too.

That is actually a steadiness query. It isn’t that protein is dangerous. It is that, should you’re consuming plenty of protein, you must also be consuming plenty of alkali. That may aid you not use the physique methods to neutralize or buffer the acid in your system. The entire concept is that you just wish to keep your blood pH inside the vary thought of to be regular.

To try this, you both transfer the acid contained in the cells, you break down the muscle tissue to produce glutamine, finally to the kidneys, to excrete the acid as ammonium. You additionally break down your bone, which is calcium hydroxyapatite, which is the alkali.

Or, you must lower the quantity of endogenous acids that you just produce so as to have the ability to keep your blood pH. Your physique has plenty of methods of coping with the acids that the kidney has to do away with.

So, should you’re giving the physique exogenous alkali, which means you both take bicarbonate otherwise you eat plenty of vegatables and fruits, you need not break down your bones and muscle tissue so as to have the ability to neutralize the acid in your system …

Hydrogen ions are balanced on the stage of 10-9, which is a super-low stage of free hydrogen ions within the physique. And the adjustments you could make to that with out going exterior the vary of regular and changing into unwell is just not very massive.

There are solely a few issues you are able to do right here. Both you are going to break down your physique methods otherwise you [need to] give your physique exogenous alkali.”

Sufferers with superior kidney illness will usually get exogenous alkali — normally a mixture of sodium bicarbonate and sodium citrate — as it has been proven to sluggish the development of the illness and delay the necessity for dialysis. The sodium citrate may even decrease your danger of kidney stones.

Potassium bicarbonate shouldn’t be used when you could have kidney illness. The explanation for it is because, when you could have kidney failure, potassium can accumulate to deadly ranges. Controlling blood stress and diabetes are additionally essential when you could have kidney illness, as is controlling proteinuria (injury to the glomerular barrier).

How Klotho Advantages Kidney Perform

The protein klotho is useful for ridding your physique of phosphate, and phosphate is one other acid that needs to be excreted by your kidneys. Curiously, transgenic animals which have been genetically edited to overexpress the klotho gene additionally stay 10% to 40% longer.

Klotho is a membrane transporter and a soluble protein. Whenever you eat a high-phosphate eating regimen, you launch fibroblast progress issue 23 (FGF23), which attaches to klotho as a cofactor after which goes to the kidneys, the place it removes the transporters that enable your kidneys to reabsorb phosphate. This helps keep a standard phosphate steadiness.

Nevertheless, with age and declining kidney perform, you want increasingly FGF23 to do away with the phosphate. FGF23 additionally prevents the actions of 1-alpha hydroxylase, an enzyme essential for the activation of vitamin D, and vitamin D is important for the manufacturing of klotho.

So, as you become older and proceed consuming a high-phosphate eating regimen (which is simple since phosphate is in most meals), your FGF23 goes up whereas your vitamin D and klotho ranges go down. Consequently, your kidneys begin reabsorbing extra phosphate, thus incurring increasingly injury.

The reply, then, is just not solely a low-acid eating regimen. You additionally need your eating regimen to be comparatively low in phosphate. What’s a high-phosphate eating regimen? Frassetto explains:

“First off, dairy merchandise. All dairy merchandise include primarily 4 issues: calcium, phosphorus, protein and fats … So, for kidney failure sufferers, we just about remove dairy merchandise.

After which colas. They add phosphatidic acid to plenty of issues, together with soda. We attempt to get individuals to not drink stuff that has phosphatidic acid in it. After which there are another particular meals, like chocolate and nuts that we inform individuals with superior kidney failure to keep away from … Beans are one other excessive supply of phosphate.”

Assessing Your Kidney Perform

To get an concept of how effectively your kidneys are functioning, you’d usually begin with a renal panel. This offers you your blood urea nitrogen stage and serum creatinine. Your GFR is then calculated based mostly in your gender, age, race and serum creatinine stage. Primarily based on the outcomes of your renal panel, different assessments could also be prudent.

“By way of simply kidney well being, there are two issues that we have a look at,” Frassetto says. “One is [the estimated] GFR quantity. Two is, ‘Do you could have any protein within the urine?’ These could be two separate issues. Protein within the urine, in and of itself, is dangerous for kidney perform …

This was found a few years in the past by Dr. Barry Brenner. He did 5/sixth nephrectomies in rats (so solely a small a part of one kidney remained) and confirmed that the remaining kidney, the so-called nephron remnant, needed to hyperfilter to have the ability to clear all of the blood. That hyperfiltration via the glomerular membrane was dangerous for the membrane, so the membrane began to leak protein, and the kidneys failed sooner.

So, we now know that there are a variety of kidney issues the place the membrane is leaking protein. That causes the kidney to be extra broken.

In case you needed to just do two issues simply to see how wholesome you’re, the primary could be to get a blood take a look at to see the place your kidney perform is. The second is to get a urinalysis. Just about any time you go in for a main care go to, these are the 2 assessments that they normally do.”

Acidotic Stress

Whereas most individuals are aware of oxidative stress, acidotic stress is one other kind of stress that may take a big toll in your well being. Frassetto believes each are equally essential, particularly the place kidney illness is anxious. Acidotic stress additionally performs a job in ageing.

“A pal of mine named Dr. Elissa Epel has regarded on the relationship between telomere size, telomerase exercise and oxidative stress. [She] has proven people who find themselves underneath plenty of psychological stress have shorter telomeres and irregular telomerase perform.

They’ve greater ranges of oxidative stress. I occur to have finished extra analysis on [acidotic stress], however actually, I feel it is a mixture of each,” Frassetto says. “So, the entire concept could be to decrease the quantity of oxidative stress and decrease the quantity of acidotic stress, and due to this fact restrict the injury to the physique.”

Extra Info

To summarize, a low-acid eating regimen is principally a eating regimen excessive in vegatables and fruits, with a reasonable quantity of protein. Once more, the extra protein you eat, the extra vegatables and fruits you must keep a wholesome steadiness. A low-acid eating regimen can also be low in or devoid of dairy merchandise.

Remember that by the point most individuals are despatched to a nephrologist, they’ve already misplaced three-quarters of their kidney perform. So, to make a distinction, you actually wish to begin interested by your kidney perform early on. Get common blood assessments of your BUN and creatinine, and a urinalysis, and if they begin revealing an issue, tackle it as quickly as doable.

Whereas the kidney transplant course of has improved an awesome deal in recent times, the variety of accessible donors is proscribed, so the variety of sufferers on dialysis has steadily risen.

As famous by Frassetto, dialysis is extraordinarily costly, and simply barely retains you alive. Furthermore, whereas end-stage renal illness is roofed by Medicare within the U.S., it solely actually covers dialysis. It doesn’t cowl all wanted drugs, for instance.

The take-home message is that you just can’t depend on refined end-stage therapies. The reply is stopping the issue within the first place. The position of dietary acid is a reasonably current discovery that’s not extensively recognized, however that may make an enormous distinction in your renal well being.

Avoiding high-phosphate meals might go a good distance towards bettering and sustaining your kidney perform as you become older. Cronometer, a free on-line diet tracker, is a simple technique to monitor the quantity of phosphorous is in your eating regimen. The Nationwide Kidney Basis’s web site1 is one other useful useful resource.

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