There isn’t much you can do for your kidneys, except don’t abuse them; don’t overwork them; and don’t poison them. You are born with about a million nephrons in each kidney, and they do have a natural attrition. You do lose kidney function just from wear and tear. And, the kidneys have very little healing power. Once a nephron is gone, it is never replaced. You have an allotment at birth, and that is it. I wish I could tell you of a supplement that will protect your kidneys, but I don’t know of any, and if anyone tells you otherwise, they are just speculating, if they aren’t lying.
So, the main way to help your kidneys is to just don’t hurt them. Here are my top 10 tips for preserving your kidneys.
1 Limit salt. Don’t listen to those who say it’s all a big lie. The fact is that most Americans have very salty urine, and that comes from the body trying to keep up with excreting the excess salt that they consume. It is work. It is irritating. It’s a strain. Try to limit your salt intake to no more than 1500 mgs/day. And that’s if you are healthy. If you’re sick; if you have chronic problems; try to get it below 1000, and especially if you have kidney problems. I know people who don’t consume any refined sodium chloride at all. The only salt they get is from celery, spinach, tomatoes, etc. I do consume some salt, but I am careful about it. I read labels, and I keep track of my daily consumption.
2 Limit protein. Obviously, you have to get enough, but when people go on high-protein diets, most of that protein gets broken down. The liver breaks it down, but the kidneys have to excrete the waste. I wouldn’t like it if I had a blood level of urea say in the 20s. But, high protein eaters can have blood urea over 30. I wouldn’t like that. Getting rid of nitrogenous waste is one of the biggest burdens the kidneys have, so why make it harder than it has to be?
3 Avoid alcohol. That’s because alcohol is toxic to the kidneys. This is from the National Kidney Foundation. Alcohol causes changes in the function of the kidneys and makes them less able to filter the blood. Alcohol also affects the ability to regulate fluid and electrolytes in the body. When alcohol dehydrates (dries out) the body, the drying effect can affect the normal function of cells and organs, including the kidneys.
I do not drink. Call me a teetotaler; call me a party-pooper; call me whatever you want. But, I do not drink.
4 Don’t smoke. And I mean don’t smoke anything. Smoke, of any kind, contains toxic substances which irritate the kidneys and cause damage. Smoking reduces blood flow to your kidneys, and it raises blood pressure, which hurts your kidneys. It also leads to atherosclerosis which hurts your kidneys. Don’t smoke. Anything.
5 Eat an alkalinizing diet. Your blood as a ph of 7.4 where 7.0 is neutral. That may sound like it’s only slightly alkaline, but it’s logarithmic scale, where 8 is 10x more alkaline than 7. So, 7. 4 is pretty darn alkaline, and it means that we should be eating an alkaline diet. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat any acid-forming foods because you need them too. But, you need to buffer them by eating an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables.
6 Exercise, but not to extremes. Your kidneys, like the rest of your body, benefit from you exercising. However, while you are exercising, your kidneys are relatively deprived of blood, and if someone exercises to an extreme, it might actually tax your kidneys. Of course, there are other harms from excessive exercise as well. What it comes down to, in my opinion, is that if you are exercising for health, than moderation is the watchword. If you go for a vigorous 3 mile walk, that’s going to deliver all the health benefits. Beyond that, you are doing more than you have to. And that’s just an example that pertains to walking, but it applies to everything. Be diligent about exercise, and be regular about it. But, don’t be excessive.
7 Get sufficient sleep. More blood goes to your kidneys when you are sleeping. And it’s when you are sleeping that your kidneys have the easiest time of doing the balancing and normalizing of your blood chemistry on which your life depends. So, do your kidneys a favor and get plenty of sleep.
8 Be wary of drugs because many of them, and most of them, are nephro-toxic. Your kidneys have to eliminate the drugs that you take, and many drugs are renowned for damaging the kidneys. A good example are pain-killers. All the NSAID painkillers like Aleve and Ibuprofen damage the kidneys. You don’t feel lt. You don’t sense it. But, they do. And I have known people who wound up with destroyed kidneys, where it was time to go on dialysis, whose doctors told them that all the years of taking painkillers is what destroyed their kidneys. And again: it is irreversible; completely and totally irreversible. And even diuretics, which are given to increase urine output, are damaging to the kidneys. Most of the time, it’s just not worth it to take them. It really isn’t.
9 Watch your blood pressure and keep it low naturally. I have written before that I HATE blood pressure drugs. I hate them all. Every single one of them, and there are all kinds, are like throwing a monkey wrench in your machinery. But, at the same time, I recognize the value of having lower blood pressure. High blood pressure alone can lead to heart disease. I don’t doubt it. And it can also damage your kidneys. So, through diet and exercise and even supplements, there is a lot you can do to keep your blood pressure down without drugs, and you should.
10 Get an annual blood test to see how your kidneys are doing. It’s part of the serum chemistry panel that they do, and it will typically include urea, uric acid, and creatinine. The flagship is creatinine. Basically, you want it at 1 or less. Even if rose to 1.5, it would be cause for concern, and the need to see what is going. On. And as long as it stays nice and low, you can be confident that your kidneys are holding up.
So, love your kidneys because you’re not getting any more, and once they’re gone, they’re gone. Dialysis is no picnic, nor is getting a kidney transplant. And I intend to go my whole life without ever experiencing either one.
I mean someone who will act to protect you while you are in the hospital- like a lineman protects his quarterback. That’s because hospitals are dangerous, and Medicine is likewise dangerous.
For instance, let’s take the issue of scans. CT scans are very popular today. They are a $100 billion a year industry. They entail a large amount of radiation. A single CT scan is equivalent to about 120 chest x-rays, and that’s according to Consumer Reports. If you need one, you need one, but you shouldn’t do it unless it’s absolutely necessary.
But, who is to be the judge of that? The doctor? Well, if that’s what you think, then go ahead and let them CT the hell out of you. But, I guarantee you I am going to decide for myself. And if I am unconscious, then my advocate can decide, who shares my attitude and convictions.
I had the privilege of knowing Dr. John Gofman, M.D. I never met him in person, but I corresponded with him. He was a medical luminary, a heart doctor, an anti-war and anti-nuke advocate, and he wrote the 1000 page tome RADIATION AND HUMAN HEALTH, which I have. And the gist of it, the bottom line, is that every radiation exposure counts; it increases your risk of developing cancer, if only slightly. Dr. Gofman went so far as to determine the increased cancer risk from a single dental x-ray, and it exists. And I am very cautious about dental xrays too. I have never submitted to full mouth xrays. The four bitewing x-rays, to see between the teeth, are all I have ever consented to. And I don’t do them every year. It’s more like every 2 or 3 years.
But, if you are in the hospital, you may not be feeling too well, and your ability, your strength to exert your will when it comes to medical actions may be compromised. Hence, you need an energetic advocate to oversee everything that is done to you.
Besides excessive and unnecessary exposure to ionizing radiation, there is the issue of drugs. Are you going to take every drug the doctors want to give you? That could be a lot of drugs. If you have a raging infection, and they want to give you antibiotics, I’m not saying you should refuse that. But, if they want to give you pain meds, that should be up to you. I know the harm the pain medicines do, especially to the kidneys. If it’s a low level of pain that I think I can handle, I will. Now, I realize that not everyone feels that way. Some people are quick to take a painkiller at the slightest headache. Or if they have strained muscles from playing tennis, they’ll start downing pills. Of course, if the pain is excruciating, I’m not saying you should endure it. But, it’s for you to decide.
And there are plenty of other drugs that are given that may not be necessary, such as, drugs to sedate you, drugs to make you sleep, drugs to stimulate your bowels, or diuretics which are given for all kinds of cockamamie reasons which offer exceedingly little on the positive side and much harm on the negative side. I have written an article about diuretics that I am proud to say is very well read, and I say that because I hear from people from all over the world who have read it. Here’s the link:
Then, there is the issue of your food. For as long as I can remember, people have been making jokes about hospital food, but the truth is, it hasn’t gotten any better, which is to say, any healthier. You need an advocate there to make sure they give you decent food, or, if necessary, to bring it in from the outside.
And what about water? There are still hospitals that provide nothing but tap water for drinking. In most countries of the world, and all the ones that I have been to, nobody drinks the tap water. But, here in the U.S., they encourage us to drink tap water.
The hospital may use a crude filtration system, such as a carbon filter, which is certainly better than nothing. But, if there is any doubt, have your advocate bring you in good bottled water.
And finally, I will point out that you should want to get out of the hospital as soon as you possibly can. I’ll be honest with you: I wouldn’t leave that decisions to doctors either. And even if there is some risk in leaving- there is also risk in staying. So, for me, I would rather err on the side of getting out of there as soon as I can.
If I seem to have a bad attitude about hospitals, I do. And if I seem to have a bad attitude about doctors, it goes beyond that. The number of them who are capable of thinking outside the box of their medical education is very small. And fortunately, I know some medical doctors whom I respect very much. I consider myself lucky to know them and to have access to them. But, frankly, I have very little respect for the average M.D. And it’s not that there are no good things done in Medicine. I know there are. And some of the things they do are amazing. But, there is an awful lot of routine medical practice, “Oh, your blood pressure is up to 140, time to start you on drugs for the rest of your life.” That kind of Medicine I despise.
Hospitals are dangerous, so if you are in one, you need a bodyguard.
First, I am opposed to treating high blood pressure with drugs except in cases of malignant hypertension where the pressure is so high that there is an imminent threat of stroke or other catastrophe that could result in dire harm or death. That is a medical emergency, and I am not going to say how it should be treated because that is not my domain.
But, that’s a very small percentage of cases. Probably 1% or less.
In the usual cases of high blood pressure, I don’t think you want to go the drug route. Do you realize that sometimes the body does things to cause higher blood pressure? That the body sometimes wants higher blood pressure?
Why would it want higher blood pressure? Think about how the circulation works. It involves large wide arteries that connect to smaller narrower arteries. It’s pressure that makes the blood go into those arteries. And the arteries continue getting smaller and narrower, until it finally gets down to the capillaries which are 8 microns diameter, where the red blood cells have to squeeze through one at a time. If it went from narrow to wide, it wouldn’t be a problem, but when it goes from wide to narrow, you need a head of pressure to keep it going.
But, what if besides the arteries getting narrower, they are also plaqued, which narrows them even more? Then, you need even more pressure to get the blood in there.
The kidneys are especially sensitive to blood pressure because the way they create urine is to pass blood into special circulatory beds with capillaries that are extra porous, that allow a large quantity of filtrate to be formed. But again, it takes pressure. So, if there are blockages in the renal arteries, it may take more pressure than normal for the kidneys to form urine. And when the kidneys need more blood pressure, they release angiotensin hormones which increase the pressure. They have drugs which block those hormones, preventing the kidneys from raising the blood pressure. The result is that the pressure is reduced, but at the same time, the kidneys don’t get what they need. Over time, could this damage the kidneys? I suspected it, and my suspicions were right. This article reports that ACE inhibitors angiotensin blockers may be causing kidney failure.
The troubling fact is that these drugs are dangerous because of their toxic, adverse effects, but even their desired effect of lowering the blood pressure may be doing harm.
And when you harm your kidneys, there is no reversing it. That only goes in one direction. You are born with about a million nephrons in each kidney, and once they’re gone, they’re gone. Once the number of nephrons goes below the threshold that is needed to form urine to clean your blood, you are frucked. It’s either kidney dialysis or a kidney transplant for you, and neither one is pretty.
And hey, we are all basically heading towards kidney failure. If you live long enough, the natural attrition is going to get you eventually, although you may have to live over 100. But, could it be that the drugs we take, including the medical drugs we take, are hastening the decline of our kidneys? Absolutely. Without a doubt.
And even some of the side effects from taking hypertension drugs may be related to them working, that the lower blood pressure that they are forcing on the system is actually causing the fainting spells and blackouts and weakness and confusion. The body may need more pressure to force the blood into blocked arteries in the kidneys, the brain, and elsewhere.
This is an example of a medical fix that doesn’t really fix anything. No matter what drug or drugs the doctor prescribes, it is not going to restore normality to your system. It is never going to create an ideal situation. It is never going to create a normal condition within the body. It’s just a different kind of wrong.
So, unless the blood pressure is extremely high and you are having symptoms of a medical emergency, I think it’s better to pass on drugs for high blood pressure. What should you do instead? Well, I would definitely take it as a wake-up call, that it’s time for you to start getting your act together for the sake of your health. Cut out all toxins, including alcohol, drugs, and caffeine. Start eating a high fruit and vegetable diet, and also include other whole natural plant foods, such as raw nuts and cooked beans. Eat plant-based foods as much as possible. If you can’t do it completely, do it as much as you can. Reduce your sodium intake to 1200 mgs/day or less. Shed extra weight if you are carrying it, which is to say: lose body fat. Start exercising if you are not doing it. Start doing everything right for your health. And if you’re going to take anything, take safe supplements which may help lower your blood pressure. For example, just taking magnesium may lower the blood pressure by 5 or more points. And that’s not going to hurt anything. There is no train of evils that follows it. Other supplements that may help lower the blood pressure naturally and safely are high-quality fish oil (such as our Eicosamax) Coenzyme Q10 (Ubiquinal), Vitamin D3, resveratrol, and curcumin (which is from turmeric). I’m not saying this because I sell supplements. I’m saying it because they really may help and without causing harm.
And if you have the bodily reserves for it, you could also undergo therapeutic fasting to lower your blood pressure because that is very effective, and it is also very safe compared to taking drugs.
So, you have options. But, the option of starting on one more drugs to force the pressure down and remain on them for the rest of your life- that is NOT an attractive option in my opinion, and I wouldn’t do it. I would pass on it if it were me. But, for me, it’s a moot question because I am 68, and my blood pressure is 108 over 64. And I am not saying it to brag because there is nothing I am doing that others can't do. But, if I did have high blood pressure, I know what I would and wouldn’t do. I really think that it’s likely that these blood pressure drugs are doing more harm than good.
But hey, if you would rather follow your doctor's advice and start taking drugs for the rest of your life to lower your blood pressure, get used to seeing him, because you're going to be seeing a lot of him. Welcome to the medical phase of life.
On the campaign trail, Senator Bernie Sanders had an attack of angina, so they rushed him to the hospital and found that he had two blocked coronary arteries which they stented. So, in other words, he has heart disease.
Without a doubt, he’s been getting the very best of medical care all along, right? We take care of our Senators, don’t we? And he’s a rich man otherwise, so, he was going to have access to top flight medical care.
So, what has he been doing medically up to now? Has he been taking a statin drug? Has he been taking one or more blood pressure medicines? I don’t know, but I do know that rich men like him get the same medical advice that poor people get, which is to take those drugs. And a lot of people who take those drugs wind up having cardiovascular events. The drugs don’t prevent them.
But, the point is that if he can get heart disease, don’t you think you can? Don’t you think anybody can? The best thing, I think, is to just assume that we are all headed towards getting heart disease. And every morning that we wake up, we should be determined to do everything in our power to prevent it.
So, what does that entail?
1 Don’t ingest poisons that provoke heart disease, such as tobacco smoke, which is a powerful prgenator of heart disease. And the same is true of every kind of smoke, including marijuana smoke. Including the burning incense you may be breathing in at church. Including the smoke from your fireplace. Burning carbonaceous material releases toxic polycyclic hydrocarbons which trigger plaquing within the arteries. So, don’t breathe smoke
2 Don’t drink alcohol. I know you were told for years and decades that a little alcohol is good for your heart, but the latest research shows that it was all bull, that when you compare moderate drinkers, not to people who quit drinking and may have damaged themselves severely from it, but to lifelong abstainers, that lifelong abstainers have much less heart disease than moderate drinkers. The only good thing you can say about moderate drinking is that it’s better than heavy drinking.
3 Eat a lot of whole, natural, unrefined plant foods. Those are the only foods that I can tell you, with certainty, do not cause heart disease, and everything else is suspect. Fresh fruits, leafy greens, steamed vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, and cooked beans and legumes are the best foods, and I recommend going light on meats and fish, if you wish to eat them, and to avoid dairy completely, since you certainly don’t need it and are better off without it.
4 Avoid oils except for a very high quality and reliable extra virgin olive oil used sparingly.
5 There are quite a few supplements which can potentially contribute to heart health. How many you take depends on how comfortable you are taking supplements and of course, your income. But, the following supplements are worth considering: a good multi-vitamin/mineral formula, a good omega 3 supplement (either an excellent fish oil such as our Eicosamax, which I take, or, if you don’t like the idea of taking fish oil, take one of the algae DHA supplements) the ubiquinol form of Co10, green tea extract, pycnogenol from grape seed extract or French pine, Vitamin D3, the methylcobalamin form of Vitamin B12 taken sublingually, magnesium, resveratrol, and optimized turmeric. Those are the supplements that I am currently taking, and I feel very good about all of them, both from the standpoint of safety and making a meaningful contribution to my program. It may seem like a lot to take – and a lot of money; but realize that there is a lot that other people spend money on that I’m not spending. I spend zero on alcohol, drugs, and that includes over the counter drugs. I spend zero on doctor visits. I am 68. I am 5’6”, 134 pounds without clothes first thing in the morning; my resting heart rate is 64, and my blood pressure (just taken) was 106/58. And I really do feel good.
6 Limit your sodium intake to no more than 1500 mgs/ day, and if you know you have any heart or kidney problems, limit it to 1000. And anyone who tells you that salt is harmless is not someone you should be taking health advice from. Realize that just about everybody consumes an excess of sodium, and the healthier you are, the more likely you can get away with it. But, even if you are healthy, don’t push it. If you get 1500 mgs/day, even that is 3x as much as you need. You certainly don’t want to go above that.
7 Take care of your teeth and gums. Rotting teeth and inflamed, infected gums provoke heart disease. They provoke inflammation, and the inflammatory chemicals released provoke heart disease. So, take care of your teeth by practicing good nutrition, practicing good dental hygiene (brushing, flossing, water pic) and seeing your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups. I don’t have a doctor (except me) but I do have a dentist. And I am diligent about taking care of my teeth, for their sake, and for the sake of my general health.
8 Exercise regularly and vigorously but not to an extreme. Obviously, exercise is important, but increasingly, the evidence shows that over-exercising takes a toll- even on the heart. Just recently, we got the news that Mark Spitz has atrial fibrillation. Is it from years and decades of over-exercising? I certainly wouldn’t rule that out. And when you consider how vulnerable we are to injuries, especially as we get older, it certainly behooves us to be cautious about not overdoing it when it comes to exercise.
9. Consider taking anti-aging hormones. I take 25 mgs DHEA every morning and have been doing so for years, and it is known to be cardio-protective. And I take melatonin at night before bed- to aid with sleep and because it is cardio-protective. Milligram for milligram, melatonin is the most powerful antioxidant of them all. And speaking of hormones, everyone over the age of 50 should have a thyroid panel run at least every two years, and if there is any suspicion of thyroid problem, more often than that. Millions of people are destined to become hypothyroid, and the sooner you find out about it the better. If it happens, I favor the use of the natural desiccated thyroid over the synthetics.
10. And finally, I do make it a practice to have blood work done on myself every April. It costs me a few hundred dollars, but there are tests available today that are very specific for the heart and can tell a lot about the health of your arteries. I am referring to what is called VAP testing, includes things like the size of your LDL particles, and the larger they are the better. Another very efficient test is carotid artery ultrasound, which tells you about the condition of your carotid arteries, whether there are blockages. It does not involve ionizing radiation, and it’s not that expensive, usually a few hundred bucks. The coronary calcium test I would NOT do because that involves a tremendous amount of ionizing radiation.
All right, I’ll quit there since we reached 10. But, the main point is, and I’m very serious about this, is that you should wake up every morning of your life determined to do all you can that day to prevent heart disease from developing within your body. Because: you look around you at the number of people who succumb to it, including multi-millionaire Senators who are running for President. If he can get heart disease, you shouldn’t think you can’t.
Many times I have pointed out vaccines are not tested, and by that I mean that they don’t do double-blind, placebo-controlled studies of vaccines. They say it would be unethical. So, how do they know if they are effective? They don’t. They do tests to see if they raise the antibody titer, as desired, but does that translate to protection from disease? They hope it does. But, I readily admit that vaccines are not 100% effective. They work, except when they don’t. However, they claim that If you do get the flu after getting a flu shot, that it’s likely to be milder. Is that a big consolation to you? It’s no consolation to me.
It’s similar with hypertension drugs. They say it would be unethical to do double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. But, how dangerous can it be when millions of people have hypertension and don’t even know it?
It’s all about reducing the risk of catastrophic events: heart attacks and strokes. So, how much do hypertension drugs lower the risk? Again, they don’t know because they refuse to test it. They just say that all hypertensives should take drugs.
But, which drugs? It depends entirely on the whim of your doctor. There are many different kinds of hypertension drugs and many different drugs within each class. One doctor may start you off with a diuretic which lowers your blood pressure by pharmaceutically dehydrating you and disturbing the composition of the urine. It throws a monkey wrench into the machinery of your kidneys. It may lower your blood pressure a little, but probably not much, and it certainly isn’t worth the havoc that it causes.
Before I proceed any further, let me clarify that I am talking about the usual mild-to-moderate hypertension that affects millions. I am not talking about acute malignant hypertension, where the pressure spikes up so high, it causes headache, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, etc. That’s a medical emergency, and I am not going to second-guess what the emergency docs might do for it.
I am talking about the non-emergency, garden variety hypertension that affects millions, where you go to the doctor for your annual physical, and he tells you that you now have hypertension, and you need to start taking medicine for it, and for the rest of your life. Usually, there are no symptoms.
So, he might give you a diuretic to tamper with your kidneys. He might give you an ace inhibitor to suppress certain hormones, and that is intended to reduce vascular tension. He might give you a beta blocker to weaken your heart so that it can’t contract as hard, so that it will move less blood with each beat. Or, he might give you a calcium channel blocker, which is the most dangerous hypertension drug of all. Or, he might give you a combination of drugs.
But, If you go to 5 different doctors, there is a good chance they will give you 5 different drug regimens. Do you see how arbitrary the whole process is? You are managing your health according to someone’s whim.
I don’t like any of the blood pressure drugs. They each, in their own way, cause havoc within the body. And in the case of mild to moderate hypertension, especially younger to middle-aged persons, for whom the risk of having a vascular accident is very low, even if left untreated, how many heart attacks could the drugs be preventing? That it is very few knows of no doubt, but whether it is any at all is the big question. But again, they won’t test. They think it’s a crime to leave anyone with even mildly elevated blood pressure untreated.
The real crime is starting these people on lifelong drug regimens. Most doctors won’t even reevaluate over time. It’s drugs, drugs, drugs, for the rest of your life.
Well, just think about this undeniable fact: the drugs do not remove or correct the causes of high blood pressure. They just play tricks on the body to lower the pressure. They just tamper with something else- that isn’t broke- in order to force the pressure down. It’s really a misguided way to handle the problem.
So, what should a person do when they get the word that they have mild to moderate hypertension? They should take it as a wake-up call to change their ways and start taking better care of themselves.
That means eating better, with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and other whole plant foods, such as raw nuts and cooked beans and legumes. It means stopping all bad habits, including smoking (anything) vaping, drinking alcohol, and drinking coffee. It means getting your salt consumption down, way down. It means shedding body fat if that‘s an issue for you. It means exercising regularly, and there is nothing better than walking. And it means addressing the stress level in your life and getting enough rest and sleep.
So, you start doing all those things as soon as you get the news that you have hypertension, and if you’re smart, you’ll do them anyway. Why wait?
And then, if you want to do more, you could consider taking some safe supplements which support and encourage the lowering of blood pressure, such as magnesium, which has a relaxing effect on the smooth muscle of arteries: CoQ10, omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin D3, resveratrol, melatonin, and there are other things you could take. The nice thing about these supplements is that they can’t hurt you. They don’t throw a monkey wrench into your machinery. Rather, they gently coax a better blood pressure through normal physiological adjustment.
And I can tell you from experience that for the vast majority of people, this approach is going to work. And it is far superior to taking drugs.
So, if you get caught with mild to moderate blood pressure, and your doctor tries to put you on drugs, just tell him or her: no thanks. Then get started doing the right thing.