Caring For My Kidneys

  Q.  Carolyn, I want to know about kidney disease and what causes it.   I’m diabetic. What can I do to keep my kidneys?  

A.   Our 2 kidneys are located on each side of the spine in the middle of the back, just above the waist. They clean our blood of waste  and excess fluid, and maintains a balance of minerals in the filtered blood, while helping also to manage blood pressure, and other duties.

Kidney failure also known as renal failure, can occur due to trauma, blood loss, restriction on blood flow, infection, toxic drugs or other toxins.  Today however, in our culture (this industrialized – commercialized society) kidney problems are only rarely caused by these assaults.
Most often, the kidneys become damaged due to poor lifestyle choices. Today kidney disease is very much a lifestyle disease, which means that the right change in lifestyle can cure it.  

Waste and fluids begin to build up in the body; evidenced by swelling in the ankles, vomiting, weakness, fatigue, restless sleep, and shortness of breath. By the time of diagnosis, the kidneys are already badly compromised. This is an all too common downward spiral we watch every day.
In time diseased kidneys will stop functioning completely. Kidney disease is serious, and a true threat to one’s life.

However, the good news is that kidney disease caused by poor lifestyle choices can be reversed, and has been reversed. Like all good things, it takes time, commitment and the right plan.
Most persons go into kidney failure due to many different combinations of poor lifestyle habits including all the same habits that foster diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol; such as eating high fat meats, packaged and processed low  nutrient foods, drinking alcoholic and highly sugared drinks,  and drinking and eating foods made with artificial chemicals, not exercising,  drinking too little water, and  smoking.

All of which, also fuels inflammation, which itself,  is part of the cycle of chronic disease.
The key to stopping and reversing this downward spiral is in changing. Creating new habits which support health. Healthy habits.  But to reverse the disease process, requires the client to do everything at least 95% right.  Eighty percent, not even ninety present,  will not stop the progression of illness.

Commitment is the first course for change. Commitment is related to a will to survive and a desire to leave a legacy, to be remembered. Once we identify a reason to live, then moving toward true health, to restructure the lifestyle becomes so much easier.  

What kind of change? Its changing your mind, what you eat, making time to play, relax, walk, meditate, plan a beautiful future, and sleep. It means creating an environment to support the change you want to make.  Next you’ll bring in support, family, friends, lovers,  to sustain your commitment.  

It is critically  important to become wholly committed to saving your life, having a support system in place is a must.  Commit to monitoring your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels frequently.  

Make an appointment with your  pharmacist to ask if you are taking anything that could, in anyway, be adding a burden to your kidneys. Also ask about the combinations of drugs you are taking, and how they interact.

Talk with your doctor about getting off any offending drugs.
Clean out your kitchen cabinets.  For obvious reasons, this is one of the hardest for some persons. They tell me that ‘throwing food away is just something I  can’t do’.
 And by the time they’ve used up the ‘need to throw away products’ the motivation to change has passed and  they’ve made peace with the illness ( until the next crisis). I say, throw out the garbage and save yourself. Trying to save both does not work.

Switch to sea salt, and use it in moderation -  aim for less than 2,500 milligrams of sodium each day. But that means no salt from other sources, such as restaurants, processed and packaged foods, and almost  any foods you did not prepare yourself (or by your support team).  Another hard commitment to make.

Choose healthy fresh fruits, fresh or frozen vegetables, whole grains, and eliminate animal protein all together. Drink Water. Herbal teas – one or two cups per day. That’s all.  Water – No alcohol at all. OK, the little bit at Communion is fine.

Find an exercise you enjoy and do it daily. Rest when you’re tired, plan to sleep more than usual. If you smoke, quit. Smoking only makes kidney damage worse.
And that’s just the beginning of the changes you’ll need to make to save your kidneys and your life. But, with the right support team, your nutritionist, the cooperation of your medical team and creating that supportive environment, it will be done, and more easily than you are thinking it can be, right now.

Researchers are discovering more and more the links between chronic diseases and inflammation and the benefit of  “super foods” to prevent and  protect against fatty-acid oxidation and other problems. Oxidation is part of the natural process for energy creation and many of the body’s chemical reactions needed to keep us functioning.  However, excessive oxidation of fats and cholesterol creates molecules known as free radicals which causes  damage to the proteins, the cell membranes, and to our native genes.

Heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, MS and other chronic and degenerative conditions are all linked to oxidative stress.
However, foods high in antioxidants and enzymes, helps to neutralize and protect the entire body.

Making the decision to eat only clean healthy foods, is paramount, in order to eliminate inflammation, reduce cardiovascular disease, properly manage diabetes and for reducing the risk of complete kidney failure.