By: Pamela Egan, FNP-C CDE
Kidney Health and Hypertension: The Keys to Preventing Kidney Disorders
By: Pamela Egan, NP
March 21, 2010 – Almost everyone is familiar with heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure. While these are probably the leading causes of health problems and death, most people fail to realize that kidney disorders can lead to many of these chronic diseases.
To understand how kidney disorders are related to other chronic diseases it is important to know the role of the kidney! One of the key functions of the kidney is to filter the blood, keeping it free from toxins and other waste products.
When the kidney is not able to properly execute its functions, the result is poor health, which eventually leads to death. Kidney failure causes toxins and waste products to accumulate in the body, and disrupts the chemical balance, viscosity (thickness) and volume of blood and other body fluids. Eventually, this can lead to hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes, which in turn can lead to heart disease and stroke. Furthermore, the compromised quality of blood leads to a depleted immune system which increases the risk of cancer and other serious diseases.
Kidney Function as it Relates to Blood Pressure
In addition to filtering the waste in your body, the kidneys also play a role in releasing the enzyme rennin which helps control blood pressure.
Furthermore, the kidneys play a role in transforming Vitamin D into its active form (Vitamin D3, or Cholecalciferol) helps with the absorption of calcium from the intestine (for strong bones and teeth) and producing the protein erythropoietin which stimulates the production of red blood cells. Lack of red blood cells can mean you are anemic and can cause anemia-related fatigue.
Nutrients to Improve Kidney Health
The road to kidney health starts with your diet. A few simple changes in how you eat will aid in attaining optimal blood pressure. Many of us have developed poor eating habits and excessive consumption, with emphasis on more refined foods, sugar and chemicals, rather than fresh fruits and vegetables.
Factors such as higher potassium intake, a reduction in alcohol consumption and maintaining a health body weight all help in controlling blood pressure. It’s no secret that fruits, vegetables, and nuts and legumes are the best choice. Many of these foods also contain antioxidants that play an important role in protecting the body against diseases and eliminating free radical damage. Limiting fats and high glycemic carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta, sugar, and sweets, which lead to inflammation is essential. The newest approach of eliminating wheat and cornstarch from the diet is showing great promise in lowering blood pressure. Blood pressure reductions of 20 – 40 mmHg have been seen with this approach alone.
Adequate water consumption is not only important for kidney health but many other biological functions.
Supplements to Promote Kidney Health
Persons with kidney failure must be careful of the supplements they take and always check with their Nephrologist first. Always avoid cigarettes and second hand smoke. For those with normal kidney function, many clinical trials and retrospective studies have shown the value of certain supplements in lowering blood pressure and aiding kidney function.
One of the many remarkable benefits of Vitamin D3 is its ability to help reduce blood pressure. Vitamin D3, also known as the “sunshine vitamin”, can be manufactured in the skin when the body is exposed to sunlight. However, as we age, the absorption of Vitamin D3 can be decreased. Vitamin D3 is the active form of Vitamin D. Vitamin D2 is a cheaper synthetic version that is ineffective. Vitamin D is necessary for healthy bones, muscles, and cells. It also helps the body absorb and use phosphorus and calcium. When one is exposed to sunlight for 15 to 20 minutes a day, they can absorb about 10,000 – 15,000iu vitamin D3 each day.
Studies have repeatedly linked the active form of the nutrient (Vitamin D3) to blood pressure. People deficient in Vitamin D3 are more likely to have high blood pressure as well as high cholesterol. Vitamin D likely exerts its effect by suppressing the expression of the blood pressure hormone rennin, similar to the effect of prescription angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors.
Coenzyme Q10 is a potent antioxidant that promotes healthy blood pressure levels. Data from twelve studies showed a significant drop in blood pressure.
Anthocyanins are plant flavonoids such as cranberries, blueberries, elderberries, eggplant, grapes, red wine, pomegranate, and other similarly colored fruits and vegetables. A French study showed that anthocyanins are natural inhibitors of the angiotensin-converting enzyme that increases blood pressure.
Magnesium Glycinate is one of my favorite minerals to help reduce blood pressure and preserve kidney function. In one recent study magnesium supplementation reduced systolic blood pressure by 5.6 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 2.8 mmHg.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 Fatty Acids from fish oil help to reduce blood pressure and reduce inflammation in the body. Most people know about fish oil but don’t take enough of it. In order to obtain the optimal effects take at least 4 fish oil per day. Enteric coated fish oil is the best as you don’t have to worry about oxidation or a fishy taste from rancidity.
GABA is a calming neurotransmitter made from the amino acid glutamic acid. GABA is known to control blood pressure by inhibiting the release of the stimulant neurotransmitter noradrenaline. To help lower elevated blood pressure that’s exacerbated by stress and an insufficient amount of calming neurotransmitters, 100 mg of GABA twice a day is recommended.
Resveratrol inhibits the antiotensin-converting enzyme helping to reduce blood pressure.
Melatonin which helps to enhance sleep and prevent cancer also reduces blood pressure during sleep. If you’re over 50, consider Melatonin 3 mg at night.
Exercises to Promote Kidney Health
Aerobic exercise such as walking daily for 30 minutes, preferably more is recommended to help prevent kidney disease. Most of us sit at a desk all day without regular and consistent exercise. By implementing a program of regular exercise, you will help to lower your blood pressure and prevent diabetes, heart disease, obesity, stroke, and kidney failure.
The goal for a healthy blood pressure is less than 130/85. If your blood pressure is above this number, it’s time for lifestyle changes.
The best treatment of kidney disease is prevention. Optimize kidney health by consuming the right types and quantities of foods, exercise regularly, drink adequate amounts of water and observe other healthy habits, such as adequate rest, recreation and stress management. At all cost, avoid destructive lifestyle habits such as smoking and drug and alcohol abuse.
Pamela Egan, NP, CDE, ABAAHP Diplomat
1116 W. 21’st Avenue
Covington, LA 70433
Office Phone: 985-892-3031
Pamela Egan, NP, CDE, ABAAHP Diplomat (American Academy of Anti-Aging Health Practitioners). She is a health columnist from Covington, Louisiana & can be reached at 985-892-3031 or www.pamelaegan.com.
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