Ketosis and Kidneys: Let’s Set the Kidney-KETO Record Straight

Kidney Function: We use the term KIDNEY FUNCTION to tell patients how well their kidneys are working. Kidneys are those quiet little organs that do a great deal of work but don’t “speak” much.

Like macho cowboys, kidneys put up with a lot of crap (or waste) and don’t complain much.
They clean the blood. Kidneys sort the waste out of the blood and pour it into the bladder. They calculate the salts and minerals keeping them just right. They measure how much blood you have and tell the bone marrow when to make more blood. When things go wrong inside the kidney, they cowboy-up and take care of trouble without telling anyone.

You’ve heard of the term HEART ATTACK. That’s because the heart is a cry-baby. One little thing goes wrong in your heart and the body screams with pain, or shortness of breath, or pounding bouncing from inside your chest. Not the kidneys. They keep their game-face on until the end of life. Because of this quiet, stock personality, we never hear the complaints when a kidney gets hurt. If we want to know how your kidney is doing, we must check up on the kidney.

We order a test called the KIDNEY FUNCTION TEST.

The test tells us at what capacity the kidneys are working. A perfect kidney scores 100% on this test. That means those kidneys are working at 100% of their expected capacity. A score of 80% slots you into Stage 1 kidney disease, while 50% places you into stage 3. We offer you dialysis if your score falls below 15%. You can’t live for long with only fifteen percent of your kidney cleaning your whole body.

Most patients with kidney problems don’t know they have a kidney problem. Lab tests show they’ve lost 30% or 40% or even 50% of their kidney function and they didn’t have a clue. Often their cowboy-kidneys haven’t said a word. They have NO SYMPTOMS. The next time your doctor checks your blood, ask for the kidney report.

Today’s most common reason killing kidneys lies hidden in your blood sugars. Normal blood sugars average out to be 83. That average number keeps kidneys healthy and alive. Sneak up into the average sugar of 100 or 120 and BAM … kidney cells start dropping like flies. Have you got one of those fat tummies that began mounding your midsection? You likely have blood sugars averaging between 100 and 120. This subtle shift in sugars kills kidney cells. Add a little high blood pressure and those cells die even faster. Before long, you are scoring a failing grade on your KiDNEY FUNCTION TEST.

Once your kidneys have lost function, you can’t gain that back. I hedge a little bit on that because there is always room for a bit of repair. If your kidneys function at 50% because you are 80 pounds overweight, we can fix that. Yep. Lose the weight and watch that function tick back up to 70% or 80% of their function. However, there is a tipping point where the amount of damage has killed off too many kidney cells, and you’ve been beating up on those kidneys for too long. That is the usual situation for the attrition of kidney cells.

The internet correctly warns patients with kidney problems not to overeat protein. High-protein diets require those stoic kidneys to filter out the extra urea and other nitrogenous wastes. Slower, less efficient, elimination of these wastes essentially leaves “urine” in the blood. It is called uremia.

If you have kidney problems and have been told to avoid a high-protein diet, remember this: KETO IS A HIGH-FAT DIET … not HIGH PROTEIN.

Don’t confuse the two. Keto-diet consists of 70-90% fat. No matter how you slice the rest of those percentage points, the room for protein is limited.

Overeating protein will kick you out of ketosis. Overeating protein with a KIDNEY FUNCTION TEST of 20% additionally stresses those cowboy-kidney cells. The advanced kidney problems requiring less protein match up well with a ketogenic diet. I contend the ketogenic diet provides additional benefit for those failing kidneys.

Many patients develop kidney problems in the first place because they’ve been overweight for too long. They’ve had too much insulin or too big of a tummy for years. They’ve had long-term high blood pressure. These problems all destroy kidneys.

Your kidney may be damaged from too many years of high blood pressure, diabetes or pre-diabetes, or plain old obesity. If you have any of these conditions, one of the best things you can do for your kidneys is to get rid of your body’s inflammation by cutting out carbs.

In ketosis, your kidneys enjoy lower blood sugars, lower blood pressures and the absence of inflammation. Let your kidneys flourish in the setting of this anti-inflammatory compound called a ketone. Let ketones nourish, repair and rejuvenate your kidneys. Oh and let’s not forget the tremendous relief weight loss will provide for your kidneys.

Learn more about kidney stones at this article or video.

If you want to learn more about the ketogenic diet, check out the book ANYWAY YOU CAN on Amazon or Audible by Annette Bosworth, MD.

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