Saving your kidneys
by David Dunaief
Nov 13, 2018 | 7421 views | 0 0 comments | 591 591 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dr. David Dunaief is located in Downtown Brooklyn and focuses on the integration of medicine, nutrition, fitness and stress management.
Dr. David Dunaief is located in Downtown Brooklyn and focuses on the integration of medicine, nutrition, fitness and stress management.
Chronic kidney disease is on the rise. In a study that looked at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) increased more than 30 percent from 1988 to 2004.

Earlier-stage (moderate) CKD is no exception and may not be getting enough attention. Here, we will look beyond the more obvious causes of moderate chronic kidney disease, like diabetes, smoking, aging, obesity and high blood pressure.

Why is earlier-stage CKD so important? It is associated with a 40 percent increased risk of developing cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks. It also significantly increases the risk of peripheral artery disease (PAD).

Those with decreased kidney function have a 24 percent prevalence of PAD, compared to 3.7 percent in those with normal kidney function. Of course, it can lead ultimately to end-stage renal (kidney) disease, requiring dialysis and potentially a kidney transplant.

One of the problems with earlier-stage CKD is that it tends to be asymptomatic. However, there are simple tests, such as a basic metabolic panel and a urinalysis, that will indicate whether a patient may have moderate chronic kidney disease.

What can be done to stem earlier-stage CKD, before complications occur? There are several studies that have looked at lifestyle modifications and their impacts on its prevention, treatment and reversal. Let’s look at the evidence.

Lifestyle modifications

Fruits and vegetables may play a role in helping patients with CKD. In a study published in the American Journal of American Society of Nephrology, results showed that fruits and vegetables work as well as sodium bicarbonate in improving kidney function by reducing metabolic acidosis levels.

The authors concluded that both sodium bicarbonate and a diet including fruits and vegetables were renoprotective, helping to protect the kidneys from further damage in patients with CKD.

Alkali diets are primarily plant-based. Animal products tend to cause an acidic environment.

Red meat is not thought of positively, and animal fat is not far behind. In the Nurses’ Health Study, results show that animal fat, red meat and salt all negatively impact kidney function.

The risk of protein in the urine, a potential indicator of CKD, increased by 72 percent in those participants who consumed the highest amounts of animal fat compared to the lowest, and by 51 percent in those who ate red meat at least twice a week.

With higher amounts of sodium, there was a 52 percent increased risk of having lower levels of eGFR.

The most interesting part with sodium was that the difference between higher mean consumption and the lower mean consumption was not that large, 2.4 grams compared to 1.7 grams. In other words, the difference between approximately a teaspoon of sodium and three quarters of a teaspoon was responsible for the decrease in kidney function.

In my practice, when CKD patients follow a vegetable-rich, nutrient-dense diet, there are substantial improvements in kidney functioning. For instance, for one patient, after six month of lifestyle modifications, his kidney function improved by 70 percent. No drug can do that.

It is important to have your kidney function checked. If the levels are low, you should address the issue through medications and/or lifestyle modifications to manage and reverse earlier-stage CKD.

However, lifestyle modifications don’t have the negative side effects of medications. Don’t wait until symptoms and complications occur. In my experience, it is much easier to treat and reverse a disease in its earlier stages, and CKD is no exception.

For further information, visit or consult your personal physician.
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