If you have been diagnosed with kidney disease, an essential part of this process is to determine the cause of kidney damage. When the cause of kidney damage is ascertained, and then treated, it helps to protect the kidneys from any future damage. Treating the kidneys but not curing the cause will only have a limited effect, as it is more than likely that the damage will simply be repeated over time.
Many of the main causes of kidney disease are related to poor long-term dietary and lifestyle choices. In the case of chronic kidney disease, the damage is certainly not done over night and there are two points to consider.
Number one – it is never too late to make a change in your approach to your daily choices regarding what you eat and how you choose to live.
Number two – just as the damage occurs over a long period of time, the results will not occur the moment you change your ways. You need to make these positive choices a permanent part of your life (and your being) and you will then certainly feel the benefits. Not only will this help improve the health of your kidneys, but also your entire body. Preventing any other health complications along the way too.
The causes of kidney disease that we are mentioning here today can certainly be addressed with the correct guidance, and the negative effects can be reduced or eliminated with the help of natural therapies.
The important aspect to remember here is that the human body works as a whole, and is whole. Of course when treating the body we can place emphasis on improving the function of specific organs or systems, but if a certain aspect of the body is not working effectively, it will place massive stress on the rest of the body to compensate.
So as you will see, there are bodily systems that you may not have thought would have anything to do with the kidneys, but in reality they do, and if they are not working effectively then your health as a whole will suffer. Let’s take a look at the biggest contributors to kidney damage and get a basic idea of how they can increase your risk for further deterioration.
Diabetes is the number one cause of kidney damage and is estimated to cause over 43% of cases. Also well publicized is that diabetes is a major contributor to heart disease, obesity, high cholesterol, and many more. Diabetes is life threatening in its own right, but its lesser known link to chronic kidney disease provides yet another reason why it should never go untreated. Type I diabetes, or insulin dependent diabetes is generally an illness that begins in childhood, but Type II diabetes is generally developed over a long period of poor dietary and lifestyle choices (e.g. high sugar, high carbohydrates, and no exercise).
Type II diabetes does not always require pharmaceutical medication and responds very well to dietary and lifestyle changes, as well the use of natural therapies. Herbal and nutritional supplements can provide a huge hand in helping to control blood sugar levels, but they do not work in the same way as the drugs that simply mimic insulin.
Certain herbs, such as Gymnema, will help to lower blood sugar while at the same time improving pancreatic function to naturally control the production and release of insulin, thereby helping to balance blood sugar via the body (as opposed to a drug doing the work for the body).
Chromium is the number one nutrient (mineral) when it comes to balancing blood sugar and controlling sugar cravings. It is best taken as a supplement for the full therapeutic benefit, because food sources alone will not provide the dosage necessary. Having said that, no matter how many natural remedies you take, if you do not have the appropriate diet true healing will not occur.
That means focusing on low glycaemic foods such as whole grains, vegetable proteins and fish, legumes, and green vegetables. Fruit is generally high in sugar but some of your best options are apples, berries, peaches and plums. Chromium’s richest food sources for interest are: whole grains, legumes, nuts, bananas, spinach and mushrooms.
Diabetes can contribute to kidney damage over the long term in several ways. High levels of blood sugar can result in cutting off blood supply to the kidneys, as it causes the tiny blood vessels in the kidneys to become clogged and damaged. No part of our body can function efficiently if its blood supply is compromised – and the kidneys are no exception.
High blood sugar also encourages susceptibility to urinary tract infections, which if not treated correctly can develop into kidney infections, which can cause serious kidney damage. Bacteria feed off sugar, so if your urine contains high levels of sugar this is the best place for bacteria, and therefore infections, to thrive.
The last way that diabetes can result in kidney damage is by damaging nerve supply and communication throughout the body. In relation to kidney function, if the nerve supply to the bladder is affected you may not get the message that your bladder is full. This can result in a back flow of urine which creates pressure in the bladder and therefore places further burden on the kidneys.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is the second most common cause of chronic kidney disease, and is responsible for more than 26% of cases. High blood pressure has several causes, and while there is a strong genetic link, high blood pressure is linked to stress, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, heavy metal toxicity (e.g. mercury or lead), and obesity.
All of these are issues that need to be addressed for your general health, but become even more of a concern when they are linked to kidney disease. Because blood pressure can rise transiently, it requires three high readings in a row to establish high blood pressure. If you have a repeated reading of equal to or higher than 140/90 then your blood pressure needs to be addressed for the safety of your kidneys. Don’t let it make matters worse!
Let’s take a look at how the cardiovascular system affects kidney function. It is actually quite simple to see how high blood pressure can burden the kidneys, because the kidneys perform their function by filtering blood through their tiny blood vessels. If your blood pressure is constantly high, this will mean that your blood is forced through your body and the tiny blood vessels in your kidneys continually, without relent.
This constant, long term high blood pressure will increase the pressure at which the kidneys are required to filter, forcing them to work harder, and harder. Over time this will exhaust your kidneys and their function will begin to diminish. Using natural therapies to reduce blood pressure will not only reduce your cardiovascular health risks, but it will also take the load off your kidneys and give them much needed energy to heal and perform their essential functions.
As you can start to see the solution is not always treating the kidneys first. Adequate attention to the cause is the corner stone of great kidney and whole body health.
Some simple dietary and lifestyle changes can help keep high blood pressure at bay, but initially, to get a quick response you might want to combine some herbs and nutrients that help reduce blood pressure. The herb of choice when it comes to treating high blood pressure and protecting the cardiovascular system is Hawthorn.
But there are also other herbs that lower blood pressure and improve kidney function at the same time. For example, the herb Dan Shen protects the kidneys and heart while lowering blood pressure. However it does also thin the blood so you need to avoid this herb if you are taking any pharmaceutical drugs that also cause blood thinning e.g. Asprin and Warfarin.
Interesting note: both of these drugs (Asprin and Warfarin) are based on naturally occurring chemicals in plants. In fact it is estimated 30% of all drugs are based on naturally occurring chemicals in plants. Makes you wonder my some of the medical profession still has it in for natural therapies… I wonder if the know what they are really prescribing to their patients? – i.e. plant medicine 😉
Many remedies, for example magnesium, also help to reduce stress while working physiologically on the cardiovascular system, so they have multiple benefits. Some simple lifestyle changes can be very beneficial in regard to reducing both stress on the body and high blood pressure.
The best place to start is to avoid smoking, alcohol and caffeine, and to participate in regular cardiovascular exercise (e.g. swimming, brisk walking, aerobic classes, jogging, sports, etc.). The best diet for maintaining healthy blood pressure contains fresh and vital foods that will also support your kidney function and health in general.
The simplest measures include avoiding high salt and high sugar foods, and also foods high in saturated fat, such as animal products and baked goods. At the same time you should increase foods that are high in essential fatty acids, such as fish, and fresh vegetables and fruits that are high in magnesium and vitamin C.
Normally those with high blood pressure are told to increase potassium intake, but because potassium can be a problem for those with kidney disease you will also find a lot of information saying to avoid it. What to do?! I myself recommend that potassium levels need to be reduced (not avoided). Potassium is still a very important nutrient for the body, so please make sure you reduce and monitor it.
Note: A kidney diet can be a complex thing to juggle, if you require extra support you can find my complete step-by-step program for reversing kidney disease here >>>
Glomerulonephritis is the next most common cause of kidney damage which leads to over 7% of cases of chronic kidney damage. Glomerulonephritis means inflammation of the kidneys, in particular the glomeruli, which are the parts of the kidney that perform the filtering role. Inflammation in the glomeruli can cause damage that will compromise their filtering function, leading to the accumulation of fluids and toxins (that ordinarily would be removed from the body), and causing protein and blood to leak out in the urine.
The progression of the illness can happen suddenly or over a long period of time; depending upon the cause of damage. The exact cause for glomerulonephritis is not always understood, but there is often an auto-immune component to its development; the immune system sees healthy parts of the body as pathogens (or foreign objects), then mounts an attack to remove what it perceives as a threat (in this case, the kidneys). Acute development of inflammation is often associated with infection.
Herbal and nutritional therapies can be used to reduce inflammation and improve the immune response when treating glomerulonephritis. The choice of remedies will vary depending upon the cause of inflammation; for example Echinacea is an excellent anti-inflammatory herb plus it can also be used to treat infections, and is regarded one of the best medicines to treat auto-immune disease in the world.
So it would be the herb of choice for glomerulonephritis, not matter what the cause. You can also focus on anti-inflammatory foods in the diet such as fish, flaxseed oil, nuts and seeds. Vitamin C is a strong anti-inflammatory nutrient, which is excellent for kidney health and immunity, so this would also be useful (no more than 1500mg a day is recommended).
WARNING: some uninformed people on the internet will state that Echinacea is “bad” for auto immune conditions – thinking that because Echinacea can increase immune activity, it will cause auto-immune conditions to get even worse. If you read somewhere that says this, it would be best to click off their website asap, they unfortunately do not understand herbal medicine at all. Echinacea is an immune-modulator, meaning it regulates an overactive or underactive immune system depending on what the person needs. Pretty smart, huh? There are also studies showing Echinacea is the herb of choice in auto-immune diseases.
Treating The Cause…
This was a brief look at the most common causes of kidney damage, but kidney damage can also be caused by prescription (e.g. antibiotics, pain killers, NSAIDs) or illegal drugs, accidents, prostate problems, genetics, stress, diet, lifestyle, heavy metals, environmental toxins, among other causes.
Luckily natural therapies can always assist with reversing or supporting kidney function, no matter what the cause of damage. For more information on how the cause of your condition is the key to your healing please visit the following link: Beat Kidney Disease
Treating the cause of your kidney damage is an extremely important part of healing kidney disease. Natural therapies can be used to treat your overall health, not just your kidneys. The body is a whole, so while you obviously need to give your kidneys some extra attention, you need to look after your entire body so that all your systems can work together. Treating the cause of illness is the only way to truly achieve lasting and profound health.
… I know I am ranting on about this point to no end, but would you say then there must be something to it? I try and not repeat myself at the best of times, so please understand that this simple concept is powerful, and VERY important …
Nature has kindly presented us with remedies that act upon the body in several ways, and with a bit of research you may find that some of the same remedies that are used to treat your cause of illness will also benefit your kidneys. After adopting these simple changes you won’t believe how fantastic you can feel!
To YOUR optimum health!
Duncan Capicchiano N.D.
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