Our kidneys are critical to survival and at the same time surprisingly fragile. Because all toxins in the body are either excreted through the bowels or filtered through the kidneys, these fragile organs take the brunt of environmental toxin overload. There are at least 21 dialysis centers in San Diego, and home dialysis is also on the rise. Why are we experiencing an epidemic of kidney dysfunction?
I found an article by Joe Pizzorno, ND, and took notes:
Because of high environmental toxic load we are exposed to today, 30- 50% of kidneys function is lost by age 90. The development of kidney disease over time can also explain why almost everyone becomes sicker with age.
The kidneys filter toxins from the blood. When kidneys are overloaded and malfunction, these toxins remain in circulation and damage tissues throughout the body.
The main causes of kidney malfunction are poor blood flow, inadequate water and excessive toxic load;
Kidneys are damaged by
- poor blood flow
- mitochondrial dysfunction
- overload by high total level of toxins
- indirectly by toxins that cause general tissue damage
- directly by toxins that are specifically harmful to kidney tissue.
Choices you can make to reduce damage to kidneys.
- drink more water,
- aggressively reduce exposure to nephrotoxins
- includes reducing toxic drugs such as NSAIDS
- avoid non organic GMO foods
- reduce excessive salt and phosphates in foods and
- increase microcirculation. to kidneys
- protect from oxidative stress
Nephrotoxic Heavy metals:
cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, platinum and uranium are heavy metals that damage the kidneys directly.
One of the most dangerous toxins is Cadmium. Cadmium has ½ life of more than 10 years. which means in 5 years, ½ of any cadmium exposure remains in the body. Cadmium binds to metallothioniens, substances meant to detoxify them, which are cleared through kidney’s glomeruli, but then reabsorbed through tubules where the cadmium becomes stuck. As these tubules slowly degrade, cadmium is released causing oxidative stress.
Cadmium damage prevents the kidneys’ activating vitamin D and thus contributes to 20% of osteoporosis,. Besides being unable to excrete toxins, the kidneys are less able to perform their other functions.
The main sources of cadmium are cigarette smoking and soybeans grown conventionally with high phosphate fertilizers contaminated with cadmium
Sweating helps excrete cadmium through the skin.
Within hours of exposure, 50% of mercury in the blood ends up in kidneys, damaging both glomeruli and tubules. The main sources are silver fillings and large fish.
Persistent Organic pollutants – POPs are ‘new-to-nature’ molecules specifically designed for special purposes and difficult to break down. Ranging from herbicides, to non-stick coatings and fire retardants, they are mostly fat-soluble and they damage kidneys.
Proportional sources of POPs: food (70%), water (10%), house and yard chemicals (10%), air (5%) and health and beauty aids (5%
POP’s have half-lives measured in months to years, thus they are difficult to detoxify or excrete, and remain in our kidneys for years.
Examples of POP’s are :
1. Fluorinated Hydrocarbons – used in Teflon, waterproof clothing, carpet stain prevention. When heated to high temperatures on stove, they emit toxic gases. Work commissioned by Environmental Working Group shows that within 2 minutes on a hot stove, the non-stick coatings start to release toxic gases. These damage kidneys by passive diffusion into tubules where they poison mitochondria, the energy producing part of the cell, resulting in inadequate energy production so that excretion is impaired, oxidative stress increases and eventual cell death.
2. Glyphosate – herbicide (Roundup) that causes kidney damage at very low dosage. It is increased in our bodies because of its presence in water and soil. The European standard for water contamination is 0.1 PPB, in US, the EPA standard is 700 PPB. The recent increase in glyphosate is because GMO foods are specifically modified to be resistant to glyphosate, so more is sprayed on the food we eat. It ends up in food, water and breast milk.
Other toxic factors:
* Smoking: Cadmium toxicity as well as nicotine. Nicotine constricts blood vessels and decreases glomerular filtration. Also increases reactive oxygen species and fibrosis.
* NSAIDS are known to cause irreversible analgesic nephropathy, However, stopping NSAIDS can improve function in patients with kidney failure.
* Toxins from the gut called endotoxins contribute to the toxic load for kidneys to filter.
* Excessive sodium impairs the kidneys’ ability to eliminate toxins, especially acidic metabolic waste. It compounds other factors interfering with kidneys.
* Phosphates disrupt hormonal regulation of phosphorus, calcium and vitamin D and decrease blood flow to kidneys by damaging tubules, increasing fibrosis of blood vessels, and decrease glomerular filtration rate. The main sources are hidden food additives.
What can you do?
Beet root, Gotu kola, (a chinese herbed used traditionally to treat kidney disease), and chocolate all help improve microcirculation. Also melons and garlic.
Blue berries, Turmeric, and Gingko Biloba protect from bowel-derived endotoxins.
Turmeric also protects against cadmium.
Gingko Biloba –protects mitochondria and improves blood flow. Its been shown to protect kidneys from glyphosate, mercury, and other toxins
Ginger also improves kidney function and protects from cadmium and a surprising number of other toxins.
The Kidney Dysfunction Epidemic, Part 1& 2 : causes by Joe Pizzorno, ND, Editor in Chief. Integrative Medicine, Vol. 14, No. 6. December 2015.