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Kidney Disease

Diabetes, blood pressure | August 3, 2017 | Author: Naturopath

Blood pressure, diabetes, kidney

Kidney Disease

The kidneys are two bean shaped organs that are located just below the rib cage, one on either side of the spine. Each day our kidneys filter approximately 1200mls of blood per minute. Waste products and foreign substances are then removed from this blood via the production of urine. Kidney disease is the progressive loss of kidney function over a period of months or years. It is often referred to as a ‘silent disease’ as there are usually few or no symptoms. Often kidney disease is diagnosed as a result of screening people at high risk of kidney problems, such as those with diabetes or hypertension (high blood pressure).

Function of the kidneys

Our kidneys perform vital functions that maintain good health. They are part of our urinary system, along with our bladder and the tubes that transport urine.

They are important in:

  • Removing waste products such as ammonia, urea, bilirubin, creatinine, drugs and environmental toxins by producing urine.
  • The production of the active form of vitamin D—therefore maintaining healthy calcium levels.
  • The synthesis of carnitine which is essential for the function of heart and skeletal muscles.
  • The production of red blood cells.
  • Maintaining osmolarity by changing the balance of fluid and electrolytes such as sodium.
  • Regulating the Ph of blood, making sure it isn’t too acidic or alkaline.
  • Regulating the volume of blood and pressure and blood glucose levels.

Symptoms of kidney disease

Kidney disease often shows no or little symptoms until there is significant damage. Some signs and symptoms include:

  • Blood and or foam in the urine
  • A change in the quantity and frequency of urine passed
  • Pain or burning when passing urine
  • Fluid retention in the ankles and puffiness around the eyes
  • Pain in the lower back near where the kidneys are located

If there is significant loss of kidney function and the kidneys begin to fail there is a build-up of extra fluids and waste products in the blood. This can then gradually lead to:

  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lack of appetite
  • Feeling unwell
  • Fatigue and trouble concentrating

Risk factors for kidney disease

risk for kidney diseaseThings that increase your risk of developing kidney disease include having high blood pressure, diabetes or other pre-existing heart problems such as a history of heart attack or stroke.

There is also an increased risk if you are obese, smoke cigarettes and are over the age of 60.

If you have a family history of kidney failure or have a history of acute kidney injury yourself then this increases your risk too.


Looking after your kidneys

Restrict sodium intake

High amounts of salt in the diet can increase blood pressure and puts additional strain on the kidneys. Restrict intake to 1-3 grams per day by avoiding too many processed foods that are often sneaky sources of extra sodium. This includes tinned food, bread, chips, sauces and condiments, stock, processed meats, cheese, instant noodles, crackers and fast foods. It’s best to read the ingredients to check for added salt and the nutritional panel to calculate the amount of sodium per serve. Following the DASH diet is designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure. It encourages you to reduce salt in the diet but increase nutrients that help lower blood pressure such as potassium, calcium and magnesium.
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Keeping hydrated

To prevent kidney disease, it’s important to drink between 2-3 litres of filtered water daily. This helps the kidney to stay healthy by flushing out waste products and bacteria. In the case of kidney disease, fluid intake may need to be restricted to 1-2 litres.

Fruit and vegetable juices are not necessary unless they are freshly made. Herbal teas count towards one’s fluid intake for the day and can assist in maintaining healthy kidneys. Dandelion leaf, juniper and celery seed are diuretic herbs that help the kidney to eliminate excess fluid and waste products.

Excess alcohol (except red wine in moderation), caffeine and smoking put extra strain on the kidneys and should be avoided.

Lots of veg!

Fresh fruits and vegetables are rich in potassium and are important in reducing your risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and obesity.

For individuals with kidney disease, the opposite is true and high potassium foods should be avoided. Other vegetables lower in potassium that can be eaten include blackberries, grapes, cucumber, asparagus and cauliflower.

Follow a low glycaemic index (GI) diet

While this kind of diet can be healthy for everyone it is even more so for people who suffer from high blood sugars. Avoid sugar in lollies, cordial, juice, pastries, chocolate and even from too much fruit.

If grains such as rice, rye or wheat are being consumed, make sure it’s wholemeal so that the extra fibre reduces the GI of the meal. Vegetables are a great carbohydrate source, but avoid too many starchy sources such as potato.

A protein source should be with each meal and ideally vegetarian sources, such as lentils, soy, nuts, seeds and beans with small amounts of meat and dairy.

Exercise and BMI

Mild to moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes, 5 times per week is essential to reduce your risk of kidney disease. It helps to maintain a healthy body mass index, reduces blood pressure and ensures a strong cardiovascular system.

Nutrients to support the kidneys

Vitamin D

vitamin dIn kidney disease, levels might be low because there is a decreased ability for vitamin D to be converted to the active form.

In return vitamin D protects the kidneys by regulating blood pressure and reducing atherosclerosis (plaquing in the arteries).

Co enzyme Q10

This important antioxidant is essential for the health of all vital organs, including the kidneys. Human studies have found that Co Q10 improved waste product clearance through the kidneys, improved urine output and reduced the frequency of dialysis in chronic kidney failure patients. It has also been shown to reduce levels of oxidative stress which are often elevated in people with kidney disease.

Seek help from your healthcare provider

The information provided in this article is very general in nature. Everyone’s requirements will vary greatly depending on the severity of the disease and other factors that might be at play. Some suggestions given may be suitable for prevention of kidney disease but may not be suitable for a person with severe kidney failure. It is important that you discuss your health concerns with your doctor and naturopath to devise a health plan which better reflects your own health needs.  Australia’s best online discount chemist


Hechtman L (2014). Clinical Naturopathic Medicine. Churchill Livingstone, Australia

Yeung CK, et al. Coenzyme Q10 dose-escalation study in haemodialysis patients: safety, tolerability, and effect on oxidative stress. BMC Nephrol. 2015 Nov 3;16:183

Jean G, et al. Vitamin D in chronic kidney disease and dialysis patients. Nutrients. 2017 Mar 25;9(4)

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