Q: 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
A: Dear L.V.:
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. Any of the following common symptoms could indicate trouble:
- itchy skin,
- ankle swelling,
- puffy face,
- back pain,
- brain fog
- and any change in urination including frequency, urgency, volume, or color changes .
You could easily be misdiagnosed, so see a kidney specialist (nephrologist) at least annually, but especially if you have these symptoms.
10 ways to protect your kidneys
Your kidney’s are precious and it’s important to keep them healthy.
Here is my list of the top 10 ways to protect your kidneys:
1. Bring Blood Sugar Down:
A reduction of “hemoglobin A1c” from 7 percent to 6.4 percent reduces your risk of kidney disease, eye damage and nerve pain by up to 25 percent.
2. Diet Do Over:
Eat a low-fat, low-protein diet rich in fresh, organic fruits and vegetables along with healthy nuts and seeds to help protect your kidneys.
3. Search for the Right Salt:
Avoid regular table salt and salt substitutes because they may cause water retention or ruin your mineral balance.
Sea salt is healthier.
4. Consider Drugs Carefully:
Medications such as ACE inhibitors (lisinopril, enalapril or Altace) can help protect the kidneys, lower blood pressure, and reduce protein spillage. However 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.
L-carnitine is an amino acid found in all your cells. L-carnitine supplements may improve symptoms of heart failure or angina which can occur in people with kidney failure.
When your kidneys tire out, supplemental forms of L-carnitine 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 blood while providing silica to help strengthen hair, bones and organ tissue.
You can drink tea or take supplement,s 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. Up Your Antioxidant Level:
Antioxidants such as resveratrol, astaxanthin, ubiquinol (CoQ10) and vitamin E may protect your kidney cells against free-radical damage.
9. Pau D’Arco:
Pau D’Arco is an herb from the Amazon rainforest touted for its ability to boost red blood cell production and improve oxygen flow.
Pau D’Arco supplements may have a blood-thinning effect.
10. Seek Out Sunshine:
The sun allows you to make vitamin D, which helps diabetics improve blood sugar control, wound healing and kidney function.
In addition to writing a syndicated column on health which reaches 20 million people each week, Suzy is the author of a number of books on natural health.
You may have seen Suzy on The Dr. OZ Show (6 different appearances), The View, The Doctors, Good Morning America Health and hundreds of morning shows. Quotes from Suzy, as well as her articles, have also appeared in major publications including Woman’s Day, Reader’s Digest, OK Magazine!, First for Women, Fitness, Natural Health and Better Homes & Garden and dozens more. .
Read more from Suzy at suzycohen.com