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Maximizing Kidney Function and minimizing stones

Dr. Brenda Gill
By Dr. Brenda Gill
November 29th, 2012

Your kidneys are responsible to filter out by-products and waste materials and if they are congested, there is the potential for infections and stones. 

Kidney stones are accumulations of mineral salts, the most common being calcium oxalate stones. 

Usually there are no symptoms until the stone blocks the urinary tract, which results in excruciating pain with possible nausea, vomiting, chills and fever. 

They are more common in men over 30 years old and the incidence has been rising steadily along with gallbladder stones, high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. 

Urine is usually saturated with calcium oxalate, uric acid and phosphates, which remain in solution due to pH controls and the release of protective substances.  Therefore, kidney stones are minimized by drinking enough water to keep the metabolites diluted that need to be cleared.   

Drinking water is like having a shower from the inside.  A shower rinses off all the debris and dirt from the outside and drinking water flushes all the metabolites, breakdown products and toxins from the inside. 

So, it is the most important and probably the least expensive way to keep our bodies clear from things that damage it.  You should be drinking ½ your weight in ounces, so, if you weigh 140 pounds, you need to drink 70 oz of water, or 7-8 glasses/day. 

Every hour of cardio exercise adds another glass.  It is extremely important that the water is neutral or alkaline!  If the water is acidic, it can leach calcium and magnesium from the bones to neutralize it.  So, either have a water filter that alkalinizes your drinking water, or have an alkalinizing stick you can put in any water bottle. 

They would make a great stocking stuffer. Give us a call if you would like to purchase a water filter or stick.  

Secondly, reduced urinary flow contributes to stones, so, if there are symptoms of prostate enlargement, such as difficulty in starting or stopping the urine, dribbling after urination or a decreased flow, this should be addressed.  

Thirdly, pH of the body is extremely important as well.  If the body is too acidic, it will draw out positively charged ions, such as calcium from the bones or elsewhere to help neutralize the blood, therefore, the majority of stones are calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate.  The key is to minimize foods that create acidity. 

These are foods with little fibre and highly refined, such as muffins or doughnuts for breakfast, white bread/pasta/crackers/rice and potatoes.  Just adding rice or oat bran to your meals has been shown to reduce urinary calcium. 

Large amounts of animal protein, especially beef and pork is very acidifying, so, utilizing fish, chicken/turkey, beans and legumes are a much better source of protein.  Vegetarians have a much lower incidence of kidney stones.  

Another contributor to stones is improper breakdown of carbohydrates or ingesting high saturated fatty foods which typically results in excess weight and fluctuating levels of blood sugar. 

This is very stressful for the body, therefore it releases more cortisol, which increases mid-abdominal weight and acidity in the body and can progress to insulin insensitivity.  This increases urinary calcium and decreased re-absorption of phosphate, which results in stimulating Vitamin D production, thus increasing absorption of calcium and therefore excretion. 

So, you can see how increasing Vitamin D is not necessarily a good idea if you have these issues.  

I’m sure all of you are aware of minimizing salt in the diet and most people don’t salt their foods any more, but, be careful of the salt in packaged/processed foods. 

This certainly contributes to stone formation due to the water holding ability of salt, never mind contributing to high blood pressure.  
Interestingly, one of the biggest contributors to kidney stones is a diet low in magnesium. 

This increases the body’s ability to keep calcium oxalate in solution and just supplementing magnesium citrate alone has been shown to prevent recurrences.  Increasing seeds, whole grains, beans, legumes, soy, avocado and bananas in your diet will help.    

Vitamin K is also essential because it contributes to a substance that inhibits crystal formation.  Therefore, increasing those green, leafy vegetables is important. 

Kale, swiss chard, cilantro, parsley and collards are all great sources of Vitamin K.  Spinach should be minimized due to the high amount of oxalate. 

Other foods high in oxalates are tea (green/black/white), rhubarb, cranberries, nuts and parsley.   

The long term over-consumption of cow dairy can also contribute to the formation of stones, especially those that have been fortified with Vitamin D. 

This increases the absorption of calcium, lowers magnesium levels and increases the urinary calcium as well.  

Another factor to consider in this area is exposure to heavy metals, such as mercury, aluminum and cadmium, since these are toxic to the kidneys. 

Cadmium is especially toxic, since it is concentrated in the kidneys. 

Therefore, cigarette smokers are much more prone to kidney stones.

For those that would like a more detailed treatment plan,
consider an appointment with Dr. Brenda Gill in Rossland at 250-362-5035.


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