Chronic Kidney Disease

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3 to 7 September 2012 is Kidney Awareness Week. The job of the kidneys is to filter our blood of waste products and to flush them from our system with urination. As such, failure of the kidneys can result in many harmful effects as we get a buildup of various harmful minerals and chemicals in our blood and are unable to remove them from our system. Your kidneys weigh only 142 grams each, yet 20 percent of your blood flow is traveling through them at any given time.

 

Some celebrities suffering from kidney disease are George Lopez, comedian, who has hereditary kidney disease. Tracy Morgan, actor in 30 Rock, kidney failure due to diabetes, Natalie Cole, singer, kidney failure after treatment for hepatitis C. Sarah Hyland, actress, suffered from kidney dysplasia, recently received a kidney from her father.

Causes of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

The leading causes of CKD are diabetes, hypertension, and many other disease processes and conditions. Certain ethnic groups, especially African Americans, are at a higher risk. People with a family history of CKD, and people with heart disease are at high risk.

Signs and symptoms:

  • Swelling in your feet, legs, or around eyes
  • High blood pressure
  • Itching
  • Changes in urination
  • Bad taste in your mouth
  • Nausea
  • Poor appetite
  • Pain in your side or back
  • Tiredness
  • Sleep problems
  • Or nothing at all
    **Often, there are no noticeable symptoms.

Therefore if you suffer from kidney failure it is important to be able to help prevent these substances from building up in the blood by taking in less in our diet. This then means avoiding all of the usual things that the kidneys would flush from our body and that we would consider ‘unhealthy’. However at the same time it also means avoiding some of the foods and substances that we would normally considered healthy – as there are many instances here where you can otherwise get ‘too much of a good thing’.

The following are some foods to avoid if you have bad kidneys:

1. Firstly you should aim to avoid electrolytes which are found in nuts, dairy and chocolate. This can otherwise build up as the kidneys are unable to flush them out of the system.

2. You should also avoid foods high in sodium (salt) which is intricately linked to our kidneys. Too much salt in the blood can not only be a symptom of kidney problems, but also a cause.

3. Foods containing potassium. As the kidneys fail this can result in a buildup of potassium in the blood, and that in turn can result in cramping and in irregular heartbeats.

4. High oxalate foods. These are things like berries, peanuts, coffee, beans, chocolate and dark leafy vegetables among other things. These can kidney stones which becomes more likely when you are suffering from kidney failure.

5. Animal derived sources of protein. Anything that is difficult to digest is bad for your kidneys if they are struggling. Replace these with sources such as soy.

6. High phosphorous foods. Foods high in phosphorous should also be avoided as this also builds up as a result of kidney failure and can result in itching and bone weakness among other things.

7. Alcohol can interfere with many medicines taken to fight kidney failure. It can also increase dehydration and can directly damage the kidney cells.

Foods that heal the kidneys are purple plums, purple potatoes, black quinoa, blackberries, black carrots (purple carrots), hijiki(potent seaweed), black seaweed salad, black grapes, black beans, and black elderberries. Some foods that you should consume regularly to keep your kidneys healthy are:

Cranberries:

Cranberries can help your kidneys fend off infection, according to David B. Jacoby, co-author of “Encyclopedia Of Family Health.” Cranberry juice prevents bacteria from clinging to the membranes that line the urinary tract. Cranberries also contain oxalates, which can combine with calcium to form kidney stones, leading some experts to warn patients with kidney stones to avoid cranberries. However, some research has shown they have the opposite effect and may help dissolve kidney stones. A study published in the November 2003 issue of the journal “BJU International” found that participants who consumed cranberry juice showed decreased oxalate and phosphate excretion and lower concentrations of calcium oxalate in their urine compared to those who drank water. Researchers concluded that cranberry juice may offer protection against kidney stone formation.

Cucumbers:

Cucumbers are a high-water-content vegetable that offer beneficial properties for kidney health. Cucumbers help prevent excess uric acid, which can lead to kidney stone formation. Their high potassium content makes them a good food for promoting healthy blood pressure, according to herbalist Jude C. Todd, author of the book “Jude’s Herbal Home Remedies: Natural Health, Beauty & Home Care Secrets.” The kidneys do this by maintaining proper levels of potassium and other minerals that help the body retain or release water.

Fiber:

A high-fiber diet may also discourage kidney stone formation, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Phytates in fiber prevent calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate from crystallizing. A laboratory animal study published in the January 2007 issue of the journal “Frontiers in Bioscience” found that phytate-containing diets resulted in no calcium deposits in the kidneys, while animals that ate diets without phosphate developed calcium deposits in kidney-filtering tubules and blood vessels. Researchers concluded that phytates may inhibit calcium crystal formation. Further research is needed to confirm these preliminary results.

Parsley:

Parsley offers diuretic benefits and may promote passing of kidney stones or prevent stones from forming, according to New York University Langone Medical Center. The compounds apiol and myristicin in parsley increase the production of urine, helping to flush out stones and crystals. Bacteria are also swept out of the kidney and urinary tract, making infections less likely. Researchers of a laboratory animal study published in the Winter 2012 issue of “Urology Journal” found that parsley extract significantly decreased calcium oxalate deposits, making it therapeutic for preventing kidney stones.

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