Marika Wamback, BSc. R.D.
Top Kidney Disease Myths
Chronic kidney disease is a disease that requires a lot of education, management, and adaptation of lifestyle. It can be a scary diagnosis, and comes with a lot of questions. The information can be confusing as it can be difficult to separate the evidence from the myth. Your renal team can answer questions about myths versus evidence, which can help you gain better control of your CKD. Below are some of the common myths that exist about kidney disease.
- Impaired Kidney Function Only Means That You Can’t Urinate: Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. If the person is no longer voiding, the kidneys are no longer removing wastes and fluids from the body. The impaired kidneys are not balancing electrolytes, blood pH, maintaining bone health, or blood pressure.
- A ‘Kidney Saving’ Diet Can Recover Kidney Function: Many of these diets do focus on healthy foods, however, there is no evidence that they can restore kidney function. They are often too high in potassium creating risks for cardiovascular events. Impaired kidneys cannot filter potassium adequately, and too much potassium can lead to cardiac abnormalities.
- Cleanses and Detoxes Will Help Restore Kidney Function: Healthy kidneys cleanse the blood and detox the body on their own. When kidney function is compromised, a cleanse or a detox product will not cleanse or detox the body nor will it restore kidney function. Cleanses and detoxes are not nutritionally balanced, may be high in sugar, and high in fluids. This creates risks for malnutrition, poorly controlled blood sugars, and high blood pressure due to excess fluid.
- A pH Balancing Diet Will Help Restore the Body and the Kidneys: Blood pH is tightly controlled by the kidneys and is not affected by diet. There is no evidence that following this diet will restore any kidney function. Blood pH is maintained at 7.4. If it goes below 7.35 or above 7.45, death usually ensues. The pH of the mouth is between 6-7, already too low for safe and adequate pH balance. Food does not change this.
- Natural Supplements are Safer for Impaired Kidneys Than Prescribed Medications: Natural does not mean safer. Most over-the-counter (OTC) supplements are unregulated in terms of evidence, dose, ingredients, and efficacy. The medicines prescribed to you by your doctor for your CKD management are regulated for safety, efficacy, and dose. Make an informed decision with your renal team about your medicines.
- Impaired Kidney Function is a Death Sentence: There are 5 different levels of CKD that all have their own specific management criteria. Your renal team will work with you to help you set and meet goals to manage your CKD and be as healthy as possible.
- Too Much Sugar Causes Diabetes Which Leads to Kidney Disease: Too much sugar does not cause diabetes, but an unhealthy diet and lifestyle can increase the risk for type 2 diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes is the primary risk factor for kidney disease. Achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle and diet to prevent chronic disease.
- Drinking More Fluids Will Preserve Kidney Function: Fluid needs are individual based on age, sex, and activity level. With CKD, fluid needs can become very specific depending on the stage of kidney disease, blood pressure control, cardiac health, and medication side effects (to name a few). There is no evidence that drinking excessive amounts of fluids will help with kidney function. On the contrary, excessive fluid intake can cause water intoxication, fluid retention, blood pressure issues, cardiac stress, and abnormal electrolytes. None of these risks will do anything to restore kidney function but they could worsen impaired kidneys.
Be sure to ask your renal team your questions about your kidney disease. They will do a complete assessment and advise you on the best way to manage your kidney disease.
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