And Overall Kidney Health
Let’s say you just got home after enjoying a night out with friends… wine, steak, and a loaded baked potato… or if you’re down here in South Louisiana you might have thoroughly indulged in a few ice-cold beers and a sack of boiled crawfish with corn on the cob dripping in butter or maybe a huge seafood platter! You get home and have to literally lie down on the sofa… the pain in your gut region is starting to kick into high gear. You’ve probably noticed it for the last few months, but each time you seemed to get through it ok by the next day. But tonight, it’s a little different. The pain is unbearable. You feel like you’re delivering a baby… (EVEN THOUGH YOU’RE A MAN!). The pain is going around your whole abdomen and you can feel it in your groin. You try going to the bathroom and even urinating is excruciating. You might even feel a bit nauseous and want to throw-up. You can’t take it anymore and end up in the ER at your local hospital.
The good doctors in the Emergency Room do a quick physical with basic serum blood labs, a urinalysis and an ultrasound or CT scan.
You, kiddo… have KIDNEY STONES!
Kidney stones affect approximately 1 in 11 people in the United States. Just less than 20 years ago that number was only 1 in 20… so we’re seeing a fairly dramatic increase in this health issue for both men and women. Interestingly… men suffer from this almost twice as often as women.
The actual “stones” are made up of material that forms in the kidney (80% are made of calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate. 5-10% are made of uric acid. 10% are struvite/infection stones related to numerous urinary tract infections. About 1% are made of cystine which is an amino acid that some individuals cannot metabolize properly.). The stones may be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a pearl or bigger. Most stones can pass out of the body without a doctor’s invasive treatment. But they can be BRUTAL coming out. The pain can almost be unbearable as the stone or stones try to pass through the urinary tract. If they get stuck coming out, they can block the flow or urine and cause toxins and fluid buildup with extreme pressure and pain.
Symptoms can be any of the following:
Extreme or sharp pain in the back, belly or side
Pain or burning during urination
Pain that comes in waves
Urgent need to go
Blood in the urine
Cloudy or smelly urine
Going only a small amount at a time
Nausea & vomiting
Fever & chills
If you GOOGLE “kidney stone natural cure” you’ll find over 17 MILLION pages offering help… drink lemon water, drink apple cider vinegar, take these 5 herbs (Hydrangea, Uva Ursi, Basil, Horsetail, Fenugreek, etc.), eat more pineapple, drink nettle leaf tea, eat prunes, drink 8 ounces of pomegranate juice daily, drink celery juice, and eat more kidney beans, etc.
While most of those options for “curing” kidney stones will help tremendously and do almost no harm… it’s not explaining to you WHY your body is creating stones in the first place.
Look… if you don’t fix the reason WHY your body is having a health issue… then honey… you’re not ever going to really solve the problem. And your little body will just keep on creating ill health…
So…. Let’s take a look at what the kidney’s function is, what kidney stones ARE and how to PREVENT them from ever forming in the first place and yes… what can you do to help if you HAVE kidney stones NOW.
Your kidneys are two “kidney bean” shaped organs about the size of your fist located near the middle of your back just below the rib cage. They basically are two big trash collectors. Every single day your kidneys sift through about 200 quarts of blood to remove 2 quarts of waste and water from your body. Then you pee it all out from your bladder. The waste that is removed comes from the normal daily breakdown of muscle and the food you eat.
So, what could go wrong? Well… you could have high blood pressure that over a long period of time could damage the small blood vessels in your kidneys and hinder them working properly. You could have Diabetes that causes a sugar build up in the blood which stress your kidneys. Some kidney diseases might be inherited like Polycystic Kidney Disease. Even over-the-counter medications can be poisonous to your kidneys if taken over a long period of time. But those are unusual causes and not the norm. The most common reason for kidney failure or for kidney stones to form are what you are choosing to eat in your diet!
A study done at Harvard determined that there are only 3 things that contribute to your kidney’s function going south:
- Animal proteins
- Animal fats
- Cholesterol (fats)
Animal products that humans typically consume are loaded with fats and create a VERY acidic environment that leads to destruction of tissue in our bodies.
A study done in Britain showed that if you ate a tuna salad sandwich, the increased pressure on your kidneys would go up within just 1 to 3 hours. Your overall probability of forming stones increased by 250%. But if you ate a veggie sandwich (plant-based proteins) with the exact same amount of protein you had in your tuna sandwich… there would be ZERO effect on your kidneys! Get that… ZERO EFFECT with plant proteins!
Even most medical doctors will tell you… eating a plant-based diet is what good kidney doctors use to TREAT kidney disease. The only problem is that most doctors, not being educated enough in nutrition, tell their patients to “increase fruits and veggies in the diet and cut back on meat”. That is simply not enough. In order to really reverse a kidney issue you will have to eat a completely low fat (no oil, no nuts), plant based diet, avoiding ALL animal products (no dairy, eggs, meats, seafood, etc.) and it may take quite a bit of coaching to help you be successful with this amount of lifestyle change.
What about alcohol? Can alcohol CAUSE kidney stones? Remember, earlier I stated that the majority of kidney stones (about 80%) are made of calcium oxalates. Calcium oxalate stones can form as a result of being dehydrated. Anyone who drinks regularly knows that alcohol dehydrates the body. So, alcohol itself doesn’t directly cause kidney stones but it creates the scenario where kidney stones are more likely to be formed due to dehydration and weight gain (fats!).
As I stated above… we’ve seen a fairly dramatic increase in the rise of kidney cancers, kidney stones and declining kidney failure since the mid 1900’s. A study done in the 1970’s showed that with an increase in animal proteins kidney function was getting worse. The higher the intake of animal protein and fats, the more likely you are to have multiple stones, rather than one single stone episode.
Wait… that was back in the 1970’s and we’re STILL seeing a dramatic increase in kidney health issues? What went wrong? Why are people STILL not getting the correct message?
Well… medical doctors are not trained in nutrition is the first reason and they’re not set up to monitor and coach their patients on what and how to eat. The second reason is … people want a quick fix. They want a pill or a procedure done so they can go back to their “normal” lifestyle. They don’t want to CHANGE what they’re doing.
If you’ve ever experienced the pain of passing a kidney stone… it’s hard to imagine that you wouldn’t want to do whatever it takes to stop that from every happening again. Yet I’ve seen prospective clients go from one doctor to another “looking for answers” … apparently all they really want is some “medication” or procedure… they just keep refusing to change their diet and lifestyle. Sigh…
Look… I get how hard it is to change your lifestyle in order to feel good. I realize that we all live in a very seductive society that is constantly bombarding us with temptations when it comes to alcohol, chocolate, fats, rich foods, processed foods, etc. Think of all those temptations as DRUGS… something that you are ADDICTED TO. And that in order to attain true health and feeling great and pain free… you’re going to have to give up your “drug of choice” = animal, alcohol and junk foods!
In the meantime, we can certainly help with getting you the correct herbs and other natural remedies to support good kidney health… but I ALWAYS preach to my clients: “FIX THE CAUSE – QUIT MEDICATING AND SUPPLEMENTING SYMPTOMS”
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