Today is World Kidney Day!

The second Thursday of March is the day for World Kidney Day.  World Kidney Day is to raise awareness, prevention, and treatment for both people suffering with kidney disease, and those who do not know they have it.  Did you know if you have Diabetes, or Hypertension, then you have an increased risk for getting kidney disease.  You must also know however, that not all kidney disease is caused by Diabetes or HTN.  I have CKD, and I do not have Diabetes or HTN.  So, for me, I think everyone should be tested at least yearly, because you may have a risk despite not having those 2 illnesses.  Besides being tested, you should obtain your results, know what they mean, and make sure you have a doctor willing to follow up.

Preventing kidney disease encompasses so much of what preventing other illness encompasses:  being active, eating a healthy diet, reducing stress, getting enough sleep, lose weight, monitoring BP,  and quit smoking.  A healthy diet for preventing kidney disease may, or may not look like other diets.  Low sodium, protein intake that is what your body needs not what you want, drinking enough water, getting enough Iron, and Vitamin D.  A lot of times diet is poo pooed by doctors once you have kidney disease, if you are not on dialysis.  A pre-dialysis diet can help prolong your kidney function that you already have, and may even improve it in some people.  If you already have kidney disease encourage your doctor to refer you to a Dietitian.  Avoiding medications, especially OTC medications, such as Ibuprofen and other NSAIDS, PPI stomach pills, and so many more will also help prevent kidney disease, and help prevent further damage if you already have kidney disease.  I will be doing a more in depth post on medications in the future.  It is a lot of info, and will take some time to put together.

Treatment for people with kidney disease will most likely be life long.  There is no cure for kidney disease.  Once you hit end stage you will need dialysis.  Kidney transplant, by living donors, is the gift of life. Monitoring, and managing blood pressure, plus Diabetes will be included in treatment.  Maintaining weight, or losing it, quite smoking will also be included in treatment.   As mentioned above a pre-dialysis diet can be included in your treatment.  I am stage 3, trying very hard to get to stage 2.  I exercise at least 5 days a week, follow a 50G protein diet, 2G sodium diet, and try to make sure I get 8 glasses of water a day.  I do not take any BP meds, but I do take 1/2 tsp of Sodium Bicarb per day.  I take a Vitamin D supplement.  I take a probiotic once a week, be careful they are high in Phosphorus, and a multi vitamin every other day, with Iron in it.   I eat a mostly plant based diet, organic, and avoid dairy at least 90% of the time.  It is a balancing act, and because I work in the medical field I can notice when I might need to adjust something.  Avoiding infection is also of utmost importance to me.  I do not take the Flu vaccine, but I do take extra Vitamin C during the winter months.  Be sure and know what you are taking and how much the kidney can tolerate.  Vitamin C is excreted 100% in the kidneys, so taking too much can actually do more harm than good.  I visit my Nephrologist every 6 months, with Labs, and more if I feel I need to.  When I was first diagnosed it was like every week.  I could probably go yearly now, but I like to err on the side of caution.

You can visit the World Kidney Day website, for more info, or follow them on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

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How Does Salt Effect Kidneys?

Brr it is freezing here in FL, today.  No walk for me this morning, but I did do an old aerobic video that was one of my favorites way back in the 90’s.  I will share that in a later post.

As promised, today I would talk about Salt and how exactly it effects the kidneys.  As I mentioned before all humans need some Salt, or Sodium, in their diet for survival.  Most of us, however, consume way more than is needed.  If you are risk for kidney disease, or already have it, then you know you should be consuming a lower salt diet.  I personally feel like anyone can be at risk for kidney disease, and everyone should be consuming less salt.   Unless of course someone already follows a lower salt diet.

Sodium, works along with Potassium to maintain fluid balance in the body. Through a process called Osmosis, Sodium and Potassium pull fluid across the wall.  The fluid comes out of the bloodstream, across the wall, and into collecting channels in the kidney.  Too much Salt, or Sodium,  inhibits this process decreasing the amount of fluid that is removed from the bloodstream, causing Hypertension.  Hypertension can then cause an a decrease of kidney function, by putting strain on the kidney to work harder.  This is a very basic way of explaining how Osmosis works for kidneys.

Something I did not know, but learned while researching this topic, is that higher Sodium levels causes Protein levels in the urine to be elevated.  So, just by lowering Sodium intake Proteinuria can improve.  Having Protein in the urine is not normal, and is an indicator of possible kidney disease. Even though most kidney stones are caused by Calcium, increased Sodium also can be a cause of kidney stones.

As stated in my previous post the maximum daily amount of Sodium is 6GM, or 6,000 mg.  That is quite a bit of salt, but still most people consume closer to 8 GM, or 8,000 mg and still more for some people.  I know it sounds like everyone in the health field is nagging about this, but if you just do some research and see how it effects the body, it might help to convince you.

I didn’t think I was consuming too much Salt.  But, once I started actually calculating it out, my goodness.  Plus, I feel better now that I have reduced my Salt intake.  Remember, I have stage 3 CKD, and I am working hard at getting my kidney function back to stage 2.  I definitely can tell the difference between a high Salt day, and a low Salt day.  Try it and see the difference in how you feel when you become mindful of what you are consuming.

March is Kidney Awareness Month.  Love your kidneys, get checked, lower your risks.  The sooner you know the better, trust me.

If you would like more info about controlling the Salt you consume, or to meet your Salt intake goals, message me using the contact form below, for a free email health assessment and conversation when done via email.

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Image below is from the National Kidney Foundation.

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Foodie Friday: Vitamin C

So, this will be a new feature on this blog.  Every Friday I will focus on something to do with food.  This week, because we are right smack in the middle of Cold and Flu Season, I picked Vitamin C.  Don’t forget for the month of February, all new clients get 10% off my monthly health coaching plan.  The discount is for the monthly plan only.  Yesterday, I introduced my Walking Buddy Plan.  If you are interested in any of that, use the contact button to message me, and set up a free meet and greet.

Another tidbit of info.  As I stated previously I have started a Carb Cycling meal plan.  This is not a Keto meal plan.  Keto is very dangerous for any with Cardiac or Kidney disease.  It is not a diet I would ever follow.  Carb Cycling is alternating between high, or normal Carb intake days, and lower carb days.  I do not ever go below 50 grams of carbs per day, and average 50-75/day, on those days.  With that in mind,  my other nutrition goal is to move to a whole plant based meal plan.  Why?  Because, on my low Carb days, I find myself eating more meat, and cheese options, as they are low Carb.  This is not good for my renal meal plan.  So, I have to learn to eat low Carb options that are plant based.  Completely changing your eating style is very hard, especially when I know the rest of my family is not going to go along with it for themselves.  But, I am determined, and so should you be, whatever your goals are.

Now, about Vitamin C.  Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin, and more important to kidney patients, any excess not absorbed in the body is excreted in the kidneys.  High doses of Vitamin C, above 1 gram, or 1000 mg, can cause kidney stones in some people.  It can also cause crystal formations under the skin, and in some organs, in very high doses.  Because, Vitamin C does have some antihistamine effects, it is taken quite regularly during Cold and Flu season.  Vitamin C, in pill form, above 250 mg makes me sick to my stomach.  So, it is very easy for me not to take it in supplement form.  However, because used as a prophylaxis it can build the Immune System, avoiding the Cold or Flu, slightly, and possibly shorten the length you have it, I do take 250mg every other day this time of year.  It is debatable whether it is helping my seasonal allergy issues.  Avoiding dairy helps much more.  All doses mentioned in this article are for adults, not children.

Vitamin C is also an antioxidant making it important to wound healing, and possibly cancer and cardiac disease prevention.  If you are trying to stop eating meat, and meat products, then any time you eat high iron plant based foods, you should be taking Vitamin C with it.  For example, when I eat beans, I drink 4 oz of Orange Juice with it.  The Vitamin C helps the body absorb the iron in the plant based foods.

Foods that are naturally high in Vitamin C.  These are the top 10, and in order from highest to lowest, according to My Food Data.  There are cereals that are fortified with Vitamin C.  Please note, when you buy fresh fruits and veggies, they lose a lot of their nutritional value from pick time to purchase time.  Upick farms are great for this, and buying frozen because they are frozen immediately after being picked, sealing in the nutrients.  I do not particularly like frozen fruit, unless I put it in a smoothie, which is a great option.  Frozen veggies often taste fresher, and better than raw.

1.Guavas

2. Bell Peppers not the green ones.  They do have Vitamin C, but not as high as the colored variety.

3.  Kiwi

4.  Strawberries

5.  Oranges.  Surprised they aren’t at the top?

6.  Papayas

7.  Broccoli

8.  Tomato

9.  Kale

10.  Snow Peas

Also of note, if you are Diabetic, or on a Renal Diet, you need to monitor the sugar, and Potassium levels in each of these.

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How To Get Rid Of Plantar Fasciitis!

Updated 2/3/2022:

As I stated last week, February is Heart Health Awareness Month.  My Thursday topics will be heart-related topics, especially in relation to CKD.  The 4 topics will be exercise, nutrition, stress, and cholesterol.  Plus, I am introducing a new monthly plan, called Walking Buddy.  That is right, I will be your walking buddy.  I will give more details in tomorrow’s post.  This plan will be strictly for people who want or need a walking partner. It is a virtual walking partner.

I got Plantar Fasciitis in early Summer last year.  Ooh, it was awfully painful.  I saw lots of websites claiming instant relief, or getting rid of it quickly.  While I hate to say something is untrue, I am telling you if you have a serious case, nothing will be quick.  It is a long, slow healing process.  But, there are things that will at least help alleviate the pain, and stress caused to your foot.  Hopefully, you only get it in one foot, not both.  I will share the things that actually work, and help the most.  It took mine 5 months to completely heal, but it can take up to a year, or longer if you don’t try some of these tips.  In the worst-case scenario, there is surgery, but I don’t think that happens very often.  So, here are the things that worked for me, in order of importance.

First, what is Plantar Fasciitis?  For most people, it means heel pain.  But, not everyone gets heel pain.  The Plantar Fascia runs all along the bottom of your foot, connecting your heel to your toes.  So, you can have an injury anywhere along there.  Mine was more towards the center of my arch.  If you have high arches, like me, you are more prone to get it, or flat feet too.  There are ways to tape and wrap, but they are very time-consuming, and I didn’t find it all that helpful.  I never tried taping but did do the ace wrap in ways meant to be helpful.

1-  Rest.  Yes, you must let it rest.  If you work on your feet all day, it is imperative that you not be on it, as much as possible, when you are not working.  This was torture for me.  By the end of the day, at first, the pain was almost unbearable.  People with CKD can only take Tylenol, which does not help inflammation.  This brings me to my next tip.

2- In the beginning especially, in the acute phase, use ice to decrease the inflammation.  You can apply ice any way you find that works, but what I found best is to put a water bottle in the freezer before I went to work, then roll my foot on it back and forth, after a long day on my feet.  Be sure to put a cloth between your foot and the ice.  This felt heavenly.  Some people find just rolling their foot on a tennis ball helps.  It did not for me.  I needed the ice.

3-  Do not exercise, as much as possible in the beginning.  When you do start to exercise again, take it slow.  It will not heal, and you can make it worse if you continue with your exercise regime.

4-  Now for the three products that I swear by.  The boot OMG, worn at night, as soon as I started wearing this, I started to see slow, but immediate results.  The little supports, I would wear in my shoe when I would work, or when exercising.  I tried the inserts first, and they not only didn’t help but seemed to make it worse.  But, those little beauties alleviated so much pain from being on my feet all day.  They are elastic, for compression to control swelling and softball support.  Just slip it over your foot and wear it all day., or night.  I bought both of these products at Walmart.  The boot was a little expensive but so worth it.  It stretches that tissue while you sleep.  Wear good shoes.  I love New Balance.  I wear them every time I walk, or work now, for long periods.  There are more expensive brands, but I find these work and are affordable.  My feet love these.  This brings me to my last point.

5-  Stretches.  There are lots of videos on Youtube that will help you do stretches for Plantar Fasciitis.  Along with the items I shared above, there were only 2 stretches, and one exercise I found actually helped.  The first stretch was actually quite difficult but really helped a lot.  You know how you stretch your fingers out away from each other?  Well, that is what you need to do with your toes.  At first, my toes wouldn’t do it.  It was like they were dumb and just couldn’t follow the command my brain was telling it.  So, I would use my fingers to force them apart.  But, slowly I was able to do it on command.  I still do this stretch on a regular basis.  The second one is similar to what the boot does.  Pull your toes towards your knee.  You can use a towel, or engage your calf muscle.  This is a great stretch for your calf muscle also.  The exercise that helped is rotating the foot in a complete circle several times, first clockwise, then counterclockwise.

If you would like me to work with a Health Coach to help you meet your health and wellness goals, use the contact form below to send me an email for a free consultation.

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Which Cheese is Best for CKD?

Updated 2/21/2021 I am going to address the issue of cheese as related to CKD, namely Phosphorus content, and Sodium content.  If you read my pizza post last week, then you already know that pizza cheese adds a lot of phosphorus to that dish.  So, to follow up on that here are the cheeses that are the best to use for a CKD, renal diet.  I am not sure any of  these would taste good on pizza, though, except maybe Parmesan.  I used Davita, as well as other nutrition websites, for my data.  They were all in agreement on this issue.  Remember that buying all natural cheeses, or organic is best.  Avoid cheeses that come in a jar, box, or don’t need to be refrigerated and have a very long shelf life.  These are most likely going to be full of Sodium, Phosphorus and other preservatives that can increase the work load of kidneys.  I have been doing a lot of research on Phosphorus, and I found some interesting info about Phosphorus in medications.  That post will come soon.  So, now for the cheeses.  Since I am not covering Potassium, mainly because most cheeses are low in that element, be sure and always read labels, especially for items that are low fat, no fat, or anything other than whole fat.  Remember, when they remove something from a product they have to put something else in to replace it.  If you don’t see your favorite cheese listed, then it is high in Phosphorus.  Plus always check serving sizes.

Best cheese for CKD Phosphorus:

Parmesan shredded.  I assume that means the kind that is on the shelf mostly used for spaghetti is not an option.  Romano cheese is very high in Phosphorus so definitely don’t buy the combined.

Sharp Cheddar.  This cheese is a favorite in my house.

Neufchatel.  I have never had this cheese, no idea how it tastes.

Goat Cheese.  Never tried goat cheese, either.  I might have to, though.

Fontina.  Yep you guessed it, never had it before.

Feta.  This cheese is OK, it just tastes so awful salty to me.

Cream Cheese.  I do use this cheese a lot in place of other cheeses.

Camembert.  Never tried

Brie.  Don’t care for it.

Lowest Sodium Cheese Options.  I use all natural Baby Swiss by Sargento for sandwiches.  brie, goat cheese, all natural cheddar, all natural Swiss, cream cheese, and ricotta are all best choices.   Note mozzarella and American cheeses did not make either of these lists.  I know American cheese in particular is extremely high in sodium.  When I was a kid we used to eat a lot of Velveeta.   You know the kind in the box.  I would have to be starving to eat that now.

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Stress Will Kill You!

Updated 1/30/2022: The pain of Arthritis in my hands has robbed me of my ability to crochet anymore. But, that is OK I have plenty of other hobbies I love.

Have you ever heard medical professionals say that?  Stress will kill you!  I have many times.  Matter of fact there have been times in my own life when I felt like the burden of stress would kill me.  Studies are showing that stress plays a very important role in the health and wellness of our lives.  Stress affects mood, immune systems, blood pressure, heart, gastrointestinal issues, and possibly others too.  Learning to deal with stress is very important.  There are many things that can cause stress.  Family, children, jobs, lack of a job, money, illness, even politics and other social issues.  Dealing with stress is of utmost importance.  It will drain you of all happiness.

So, what is stress?  For the purpose of this blog, stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.  Identifying what stresses you out, and then avoiding it, or dealing with it, is essential to optimal health and wellness.

For me, first let me say I thrive on stress, well some stress.  I get bored very easily, and I love a good challenge.  Nothing makes me happier than someone to say to me you will never do that.  Watch me!  But, with that said not all stress energizes me, some sap me of energy and make me feel awful in a lot of ways.  Over the years I have learned many things to help me cope with stress.  Let’s face it you can’t avoid all stressful situations, that is not healthy either, but you can avoid some.  I will do future blog posts on things that work for me, but today I am concentrating on Crocheting.  I learned to crochet many, many years ago.  I didn’t do a whole lot with it, it was more something my mother wanted me to learn.  After I got pregnant with my first child, a very stressful situation, I picked it back up and made him a blanket.  Ooh, it was ugly, but it felt so good to make it.  He still has that ugly old thing today.  I still crochet to this day.  I don’t make anything fancy, that is not relaxing.  I like patterns that repeat, so I just memorize the pattern and crochet away.  While I crochet my mind can think, reflect, ponder however you want to say it. It is great especially when I can’t be outside, or just need to sit and relax.  I am in a club now where the things I make are donated.  I used to sell on Etsy, but have given that up.  It makes me feel good to donate to others in need, another great way to relieve stress I might add.

Please, if you are overburdened with stress, and you need someone to talk to, and help you set goals, limits, and learn stress relievers, use the contact form below to send me an email and make a date for a free consultation.

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CKD, What Is It?

As I have mentioned before this blog will be a lot about chronic illnesses, and ways to manage them.  I want to work with people with chronic illnesses, because I can relate to it, both as a nurse, and a personal level.  I will write in simple to understand terms.

Christmas Day 2016, after dinner, I started feeling like I was getting the Flu.  It was not the Flu, my left kidney was failing.  As my symptoms got worse, instead of better, my nurse instincts started to kick in, and I started to think something was seriously wrong with my kidney.  At first I thought kidney stone, or infection was the problem.  By the time the holidays had passed, and I started to have a metal taste in my mouth, I told my husband I have to get to a doctor and quick.  That was when I learned the scary truth, my left kidney had failed, was shrunken and scarred.  I was dumbfounded.  How could I have not known?  How was it never picked up?  Well the truth is CKD is called the silent killer for a reason.  They symptoms are slow, over a long period of time,  and mimic symptoms of many other illnesses.  That was the start of a new chapter in my life:  defeating this illness or at least keeping it stable, avoiding Dialysis or a transplant.

So, what is CKD?  CKD is Chronic Kidney Disease.  There are 5 stages, and I was one point away from being stage 4 when I finally got to a doctor.  I am now 2 points away from stage 2.  My kidney probably had been failing most of my adult life, and I was not even aware.  Oh, I had vague symptoms, but with a sibling and mother with Fibromyalgia, and I had symptoms of Sjogrens I just figured I had Fibromyalgia too, and would just have to live with it.  Not until the kidney just decided to go poof that Christmas Day, did the symptoms and blood work show the truth.  I did not have Hypertension, nor am I Diabetic, two of the leading causes of CKD.  So, that leaves most likely genetic issue, or something I was born with.  I won’t go into all the blah blah blah of how I think being diagnosed was just missed all those years, living in the past will help nothing.

Living with CKD has changed my life forever, plus my children and husband.  We didn’t even know if I would live, that is how sick I was.  The diet changes, exercise limitations, fatigue, fear of breaking a bone, and never wanting to be on Dialysis are stressful and weary at times.  But, I am an optimist, always, and determined to win.

I will be posting about many chronic diseases.  Being a nurse for 31 years, I have taken care of most of them.  There are ways to live a fruitful life with a chronic illness, but it takes determination and work.  There is no magic formula, and everyone is different in both their disease process, needs, and lifestyle.

If you would like to have a free meet and greet with me, and see if you want to work with me to reach your medical goals, use the contact button to message me.  I can only accept up to 4 clients, at this time, so don’t miss the chance.  The meet and great is absolutely Free.  I would love to be your Health Buddy!

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