Top 10 List to Protect Your Kidneys

Dear Pharmacist,

I’ve had diabetes for 12 years and now I have kidney disease.  My doctor just prescribed lisinopril. I’m concerned that there is more I should be doing. What else should I consider? 

–L.V. Los Angeles

Answer:  The kidneys continuously filter your blood to strain out waste products. Without functional kidneys we would die within minutes.  Many people, including non-diabetics, have the beginnings of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and don’t even realize it.  For example, fatigue, itchy skin, ankle swelling, puffy face, back pain, brain fog and any change in urination including frequency, urgency, volume, or color changes could indicate trouble.  You could easily be misdiagnosed, so see a kidney specialist (nephrologist) at least annually, but especially if you have these symptoms.  Here is my top 10 list to protect your precious kidneys:  

1. Bring blood sugar down.  A reduction of “hemoglobin A1c” from 7% to 6.4 % reduces your risk of kidney disease, eye damage and nerve pain by up to 25%. 

2. Eat a low-fat, low-protein diet rich in fresh, organic fruits and vegetables along with healthy nuts and seeds. 

3. Avoid regular table salt and salt substitutes because they may cause water retention or ruin your mineral balance. Sea salt is healthier. 

4. Medications such as ACE inhibitors (lisinopril, enalapril or Altace) can protect the kidneys, lower blood pressure, and reduce protein spillage.  Side effects include dry cough, headache, elevated potassium levels and weird changes in taste.   Newer medications such as Diovan, Cozaar, Avapro or Atacand can achieve similar benefits with fewer side effects. 

5. L-carnitine is an amino acid found in all your cells. Supplements may improve symptoms of heart failure or angina which can occur in people with kidney failure. When your kidneys tire out, supplemental forms may become useful.  Dosage varies and is based on your individual kidney function so ask your doctor.

6. Horsetail or Equisetum arvense:  This ‘diuretic’ herb helps your kidneys filter the blood while providing silica to help strengthen hair, bones and organ tissue.  You can drink tea or take supplements but ask your doctor first because diuretics usually enhance the side effects of medications.

7. Thiamine (vitamin B1)-   It’s not typically considered a kidney-loving vitamin but ‘cutting edge’ is my middle name. This natural nutrient was just shown to have dramatic effects on the body’s ability to excrete albumin and reverse early-stage kidney disease in some type 2 diabetics. 

8. Antioxidants such as resveratrol, astaxanthin, ubiquinol (CoQ10) and vitamin E may protect  kidney cells against free-radical damage.

9. Pau D’Arco – which is an herb from the Amazon rainforest touted for its ability to boost red blood cell production and improve oxygen flow.  Supplements may have a blood-thinning effect. 

10. The sun- it allows you to make vitamin D, which helps diabetics improve blood sugar control, wound healing and kidney function.

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Suzy Cohen, RPh

Suzy is a graduate of the University of Florida and has been a licensed pharmacist for nearly 20 years.  People call her “America’s Most Trusted Pharmacist” because she has spent the last 10 years writing a syndicated column on health which reaches millions of people each week. People write to her from all over the world and thank her for giving them natural options, or for helping them stay safe on medications they need to take.  She realizes the importance and need for medications, but prefers to think outside the pillbox.  This mindset comes through in her work and has made her quite popular around the world.

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Suzy Cohen, RPh

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  1. says

    If you can stop complete intake of diary products it would do you a would of good. Tea and coffee among the culprits that could aggravate the situation. lemon orange is also very good for kidney problems. So, form the habit of drinking it after sqiuizing it in a glass. Also you need alot of vegetables and fruits that are organically grown. Hope youn know that the best way to eat fruits is on empty stomach ?

  2. Cai says

    My father has been able to completely normalize kidney function by using a product called Invisible Veins. It contains the flavonoid DiosVein which has shown to level albumin retention in the kidney within 3-4 weeks.

  3. Val Cunningham says

    Dear LV, I am also a diabetic and am trying to prevent the progression of the disease by reading lots of books on the subject as well as visiting many websites etc. About a year ago I read quite a bit about ‘Cordyceps’ a type of fungus originally from China. It has been taken by their Olympic atheletes for stamina etc, but one of the beneficial side effects is that it improves kidney function. I have found that my glucose levels have also improved slightly since I started to take it, and I generally feel a lot better. Additionally, even if this does not repair the damage, it will not do you any harm, and will at least preserve what kidney function you have. In the UK a company called Sapco market this as a product called Corstrong – but it may not be available in the USA. However I am sure if you use a search engine to look for Cordyceps you will find as much information as you could want, and hopefully, if you think it is for you, a stockist of the product. I also agree fully with Simon (previous comment) re: organic fruits and veg., plus meats etc. I also take a good blueberry supplement as that helps to flush your kidneys and gives urinary tract protection, as well as protecting your eyes. There is a connection between kidneys and eyes, so you need to protect the small blood vessels in the eyes and kidneys with Blueberry. Also if you are on statins, take at least 200mg per day of CO-Q-10 to protect your heart as statins deplete your levels of Co-Q-10. Good luck and take good care of yourself!!

  4. JosephCampisi says

    A Pubmed search on kidney and bicarbonate will elucidate the benefits of alkalinization in CKD. Drink more spring water with trace minerals like ConcenTrace. Substitute health giving fats (coconut, red palm, DHA, EPA, GLA) but check sources for freshness, purity, and antioxidants. Increase full spectrum vitamin E (4 tocopherols, 4 tocotrienols) to reduce oxidative stress. Eat only foods a tropical hunter-gather would eat, i.e., no artificial foods, no processed foods, no preserved foods, little or no milk, little or no grains. Consider not denatured whey protein as protein source. Consider taurine supplementation. Other herbs to consider are horsetail grass, corn silk, couch grass, milk thistle, hydrangea, gingseng. Consider D-mannose to prevent bacterial growth. Increase iodine via ocean plant consumption (Guy E. Abraham, M.D. considers 15 milligrams iodine minimum). Find a doctor that will blood and urine test for all vitamin and mineral levels.

  5. yomo says

    please help.

    i would like to knoe more about the product Invisble Veins.

    a post was left by Cal, who stated that this product help normalize his dad’s kidney function.

  6. Anngel says

    I’ve just be told that i have protein in my kidneys, my doctor started me on Lisinopril, i took it for 2 weeks and begin to have pain in my side and back, since then my doctor prescribed Enalapril, i want o know if thare is any natural supplements or food that i should take to help my kidneys inprove it funtions? How often should i havemy kidneys tested to know if they are improving?

  7. Rabbit says

    I have managed to preserve what is left of my kidneys for many decades. I eat no food combinations. I combine my own food and do not eat yeast breads because they bother me and make me itch and joints ache. I eat organice veggies, blueberries, blackberries, and some milk products like Kefir. I don’t each any extra fats with my small amounts of meat and fish. I don’t do well on white fishes. I have to eat trout, salmon, or shrimp to feel good. I eat oatmeal once a day, many nuts, and try to get MUFAs and EFAs. I take cod liver oil in winter, I have tried Pau de Arco but in general, I find so much trouble with diuretics. My blood pressure meds, metaprolol, Diovan do enough diuretic. I take 2 500 mg Fortamet a day for Diabetes II. My A1C is 5.7. I take warfarin too. My biggest problem is infections and wonder if the Kefir could be responsible. I just started that last year. Any advice?

  8. Anonymous says

    Can Melatonin or Vit E can be used against paracetamol induced nephrotxicity?
    and if we want to induce nephrotoxicity by paracetamol in 28 days study, then what is toxic dose of paracetamol?

  9. Anonymous says

    I would advise a T2D to skip the fruits and vegetables and begin eating more grass-fed animal fat. The idea that protein damages the kidney is a myth. It’s the elevated glucose and susequent glycation that causes the damage, the protein leak is the effect. The elevated glucose that T2Ds are constantly battling will NOT be helped much by eating an apple insteak of bacon. When oh WHEN will it ever sink in…carbohydrates become GLUCOSE in the bloodstream…Biochemistry 101…you want to control your glucose/insulin response? Eat LESS carbs and MORE fat.

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