The Toxin Solution

Chapter 6. Revive Your Kidneys

Before beginning the program outlined in these pages, you learned to recognize where toxins come from and how to decrease your exposure to them. Then, in the first two weeks of the Toxin Solution, you began to eat a toxin-free diet. Most people who are aware of natural health options have probably already heard of liver and kidney cleanses. But those practices are usually offered as separate recipes without a core understanding of their interconnectivity within the body.

What is interconnectivity? The body’s organs of detoxification aren’t merely isolated organs. They are systems that function collaboratively. As mentioned in chapter 4, a toxic gut hurts detox in two ways: it fails to prevent absorption of harmful toxins coming from the wrong gut bacteria, contaminated food, consumer products, and industrial emissions; and it generates harmful products called endotoxins. And when these toxins and endotoxins back up into your other detox organs, they add to your toxic burden and reduce your detox capacity. That is why, in the second two weeks, in order to stop putting such a heavy load on your liver, you followed the plan to detoxify your gut. The next step was to improve the performance of Phase I and Phase II liver activity.

At this juncture, you should be experiencing an upsurge of energy.

Now, in weeks 7 and 8, you will detox the third major detox organ in your body, your kidneys. Although you probably don’t think much about your kidneys, the truth is that if your kidneys don’t function well, you cannot successfully detoxify. According to the Mayo Clinic, these symptoms are typical of kidney disease—though they usually appear only after kidney damage is pretty significant:

 Nausea

 Vomiting

 Loss of appetite

 Fatigue and weakness

 Sleep problems

 Changes in urine output

 Decreased mental sharpness

 Muscle twitches and cramps

 Hiccups

 Swelling of feet and ankles

 Persistent itching

 Chest pain, if fluid builds up around the lining of the heart

 Shortness of breath, if fluid builds up in the lungs

 High blood pressure (hypertension) that’s difficult to control

Why do the kidneys work so hard? Because they have to deal with heavy metals, chemical toxins, and hazardous industrial emissions, as I’ve discussed in chapters 1 and 2—and some of these simply can’t be avoided.

Many kinds of outside chemical toxins in agriculture and industry specifically target the kidneys, such as:1

 Persistent organic pollutants (POPs)

 Chemicals used in the production of plastics, like dichloroethene

 Pesticide products and pesticide residues like dioxanes, dibromoethane, chlordecone, chlorobenzene, and hexachlorocyclopentadiene (HCCPD)

 Antimicrobial products like ethylene oxide

 Solvents like chloroform, bromoform, hexachlorobutadiene, and xylenes

 Coal tar derivatives like benzofuran

 Flame retardants like bromodichloromethane, and phosphate ester flame retardants

 Chemicals we may be exposed to regularly, like antifreeze (ethylene glycol), gasoline (methyl tert- butyl ether, or MTBE) and petroleum hydrocarbons, and the perfluoroalkyls used on nonstick pans, breathable fabrics, and fabrics to make them resistant to grease, oil, and water

 Charbroiled foods containing kidney-damaging chemicals like nitrosodiphenylamine

 Food additives like propylene glycol

I’m here to tell you that poor kidney function can be reversed. Over the long years of my practice, I’ve helped many people to restore kidney function and improve their detox capacity. The research and my clinical experience confirm that, with the right supports, you can safely and effectively get toxins out of your body, decrease symptoms, lower disease risk, and improve your health.

Why do I emphasize the kidneys? The kidneys filter the blood and are the second-most-important organs of toxin elimination. Over 20 percent of all the blood flow passes through them daily, showing yet again that detoxification is a crucial part of the human physiological design. As your blood circulates through your kidneys, this bean-shaped pair of organs work day and night, twenty-four seven, to filter out the toxins in your food and drink. When the toxic load gets too much for them to handle, they slow down. And when overwhelmed, the kidneys themselves become toxic, producing kidney stones, infections, cysts, and tumors. Finally, they may shut down altogether, which is a life-threatening condition.

Unfortunately, we are now exposed to such a high toxic load that the average person’s kidneys wear out before their time. This means a dramatic decrease in our ability to get rid of many toxins and helps explain why almost everyone gets sicker as the years pass. The average load most people put on their kidneys is so heavy that by the time of death, most people have lost 50 percent of their kidney function.

And that’s not all. The kidneys also must rid your body of toxic residues from various bodily processes. Although the kidneys are usually able to remove most toxins from the blood, often they aren’t able to accomplish the next stage of the process: moving those toxins into the urine, and from there out of the body. And when the detox process is interrupted, toxins accumulate in the kidneys themselves. As the toxic concentration mounts, that toxic brew can seriously damage the kidneys.

What Causes Loss of Kidney Function?

There is no single way that people damage their kidneys. Rather, the cumulative effect of many factors causes loss of kidney function. Unless these hard-working organs perform at maximum efficiency, toxins will continue to accumulate in your body with every passing day.

That is why in the Two-Week Kidney Detox Protocol chapter 6, you will be doing two things:

1. Providing the kidneys with the right nutrients so they can do their job

2. Limiting your consumption of substances that damage the kidneys

Both are equally important. Because pharmaceutical medicine promises us that a pill can correct any problem, most people are unaccustomed to eating the right foods and taking the right nutritional substances, which I encourage throughout the Toxin Solution. But even if you are following the program, you undermine your efforts when you continue with habits that harm the very organ you are trying to restore. That is why it’s essential that you both do the right things and not do the wrong ones.

The Two-Week Kidney Detox Protocol

Here is the overview of what you will do and not do in weeks 7 and 8. After I describe the protocol, I explain each feature and why it’s essential. I will also show you how to customize the protocol to ensure the optimal rate of toxin breakdown and excretion. Note that while this program calls for no animal protein, you may, if you wish, include some animal products the first week. However, there are two good reasons to omit them. The first is to decrease your protein consumption, since their breakdown products put a higher load on the kidneys. Second, since chemical and metal toxins concentrate in conventionally raised animals, avoiding these foods further decreases your toxic load.

Understanding the Protocol: Detoxing Your Kidneys

This small pair of organs filters all your blood a remarkable sixty times per day—one of the most constant and crucial of your body’s detox mechanisms. When your body performs many of its internal biochemical processes, certain chemicals are generated. In and of themselves, these by-products are toxic and are meant to be released from your body. Often that task falls to the kidneys, which must get rid of the following:

Ammonia

 Urea

 Uric acid

 Creatinine

 Hormone metabolites

 Post-Phase II water-soluble toxins

 Heavy metals and other industrial toxins

 New-to-nature molecules (for example, POPs)

 Excess vitamins, salt, and phosphates

Have you ever noticed that your urine turns bright yellow/orange after you take B vitamins or a multivitamin? That is your kidneys getting rid of the extra vitamin B2.

Although the kidneys regularly remove toxins from the blood, they sometimes have a problem passing those same toxins into the urine. As a result, the toxins accumulate in the kidneys, where they cause continuous damage. For example, kidney-function loss is common among smokers, with tobacco toxins not only damaging the kidneys but also decreasing critical blood flow to the kidneys.

Another example is the heavy metal cadmium. Fortunately, the kidneys can quickly filter cadmium out of the blood. Unfortunately, the cadmium all too often gets stuck in the kidneys. Like many toxins, when concentrated, it damages these delicate tissues, causing oxidative stress. If you ever wonder what oxidation looks like in your body, all you need to do is look at a rusty car or at rubber that has cracked after being exposed to the sun for years. Rust is oxidized iron, and cracked rubber is oxidized carbon molecules. The same thing happens in your body, and it is especially significant when DNA or mitochondria are oxidized. These are the primary causes of aging.

The dramatic decline in our ability to get rid of toxins over time helps explain why almost everyone gets sicker with age. As you can see in figure 6.1, an eighty-five-year-old has only about half the kidney function of a twenty-year-old.

Table 6.1. Weeks 7 and 8 Foods and Supplements

WEEKS 7 AND 8 FOODS

• No animal proteins (or dairy) during this week

• 3 ounces nuts and seeds like almonds, cashews, and pumpkin seeds (rich in magnesium) three times a day

• Two generous servings twice per day green leafy vegetables (rich in many nutrients) seasoned with dill and caraway

• One or two servings per day of a whole grain such as rice, millet, or quinoa

• Two citrus fruits (except grapefruit) twice a day

• Beet juice: 8 oz. twice a day

• Ginger juice, fresh: one inch a day, take with beet juice

• Blueberries: 1 cup a day

WEEKS 7 AND 8 SUPPLEMENTS

• Magnesium citrate: 500 mg twice a day

 Curcumin (either Theracurmin or Meriva): 300 mg twice a day

 Ginkgo biloba: 60 mg twice a day

 Gotu kola: 100 mg twice a day

 Fiber: 5 grams of a fiber supplement three times a day

 NAC: 500 mg three times a day

 A multivitamin OTHER

 Decrease consumption of salt to less than 1/2 gram—approximately 1/8 tsp—per day (yes, you will find this surprisingly difficult).

 Decrease phosphates (for example, processed cheeses, canned fish, sunflower seeds) to less than 400 mg per day.

 Drink at least 4 quarts of clean, filtered water per day. (Carbon block filters work well!)

 Follow breathing instructions.

Protecting the Kidneys

The kidneys’ principal task is filtering toxins from the blood. To do that job requires adequate blood flow through the kidneys, to ensure that the toxins can be cleared out. Only when there is sufficient microcirculation—the flow of blood through tiny blood vessels in the kidneys—can they perform effectively. Research now shows that impaired kidney blood flow may be the primary reason kidney function declines with aging.2 Decreased blood flow also causes a buildup of scar tissue around the kidneys, which further decreases the amount of blood available for cleaning the kidneys.

Figure 6.1. Deterioration in kidney function with aging

Anything that lowers blood flow to the kidneys decreases the excretion of toxins. Smoking, elevated blood pressure, obesity, and even high-fat meals can damage microcirculation. While most people know that all of these aren’t healthy, few are aware that certain widely used food additives seriously damage the kidneys’ detoxification capacity by impairing microcirculation.

Three Ways the Kidneys Excrete Toxins

The kidneys get rid of toxins in the following three ways:

1. Filtration of most small and medium molecules from the blood. The glomerulus is like the strainer you use to drain pasta: it keeps the big molecules in the blood and allows the small molecules into the kidney for excretion in the urine, or, in the case of important molecules, for reabsorption back into the body.

2. Passive diffusion of fat-soluble molecules into the urine. Passive means that the toxins move by themselves from areas of high concentration, in the kidneys, to the urine, an area of lower concentration. Drinking sufficient water helps dilute the urine, making it easier for these toxins to leave the kidneys.

3. Active transport into the urine. This means the kidneys spend energy to create special enzymes and molecules to get particularly difficult toxins out of the blood and into the urine.

Figure 6.2. Kidney filtration mechanism

Excessive Protein in the Diet

The average person should eat about 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. So if you weigh 154 pounds (70 kilograms), you should eat 2Уз ounces (70 grams) of protein a day. An egg is 6 grams of protein. Almost all natural foods have some protein, so you don’t have to eat only high-protein foods. For example, 3 ounces of cabbage has 1 gram of protein. While high-protein diets can be effective for losing weight, following them for years at a time can be very hard on the kidneys.

Excessive Phosphates in the Diet

Phosphorus-containing additives, called phosphates, are used in myriad ways—for acid balancing, especially in carbonated beverages, leavening of bread, color and moisture retention, anticaking, and flavorings. Phosphorus is an essential mineral for cell structure and function, but when consumed in excess, it has many adverse effects.

When you consume foods, such as sodas, that contain high levels of phosphates, the phosphates eventually migrate into your bloodstream, where they can impair blood circulation to the kidneys, undermining the crucial filtration process so fundamental to successful detox.

Excessive phosphate consumption damages the kidneys, blocks their blood vessels, and decreases their filtration rate. In fact, one of the early signs of kidney failure is increasing phosphate levels in the blood.3 Avoiding phosphates is difficult, because they are used in so many foods. (See table 6.2.)

In figure 6.3, you can see that excessive phosphorous intake is related to higher rates of mortality from all causes.

Charles’s Story

As Charles aged, his health worsened. Although he thought that was normal, he noticed he had far less energy than friends his own age. Back when he was fifty years old, his blood pressure had already been quite elevated, indicating heart disease. He was also diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Now that he was sixty-one, he felt so chronically ill that his doctor ran more extensive laboratory tests and determined that Charles had declining kidney function. Further testing showed damage and blockage of the arteries leading to his kidneys. His filtration rate was very poor, like that of a ninety-year-old man. His plasma creatinine (a waste product of muscle metabolism) was elevated as well, since the kidneys are responsible for its excretion. His kidney specialist predicted he would need to go on dialysis within eighteen to twenty-four months.

Table 6.2. Primary Sources of Phosphates

PROCESSED FOOD TYPE

EXAMPLES OF PHOSPHATE ADDITIVES

Milk and dairy

Phosphoric acid, sodium phosphate, calcium phosphate, potassium tripolyphosphate

Mixed dishes, grain-based

Modified food starch, sodium acid pyrophosphate, disodium phosphate

Breads, rolls, and tortillas

Sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, sodium acid pyrophosphate

Quick breads, bread products, sweet bakery products

Sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, dicalcium phosphate, calcium acid pyrophosphate

Poultry

Sodium tripolyphosphate, sodium tripoly / sodium hexametaphosphate blends, sodium acid pyrophosphate, tetrasodium pyrophosphate

Pizza

Disodium phosphate, tricalcium phosphate, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, sodium acid pyrophosphate

 

Monocalcium phosphate, sodium phosphate, disodium phosphate,

Vegetables

sodium acid pyrophosphate, disodium hydrogen pyrophosphate

Mixed dishes: meat, poultry, seafood

Sodium tripolyphosphate, sodium acid pyrophosphate, tricalcium phosphate, trisodium phosphate

Meats

Potassium tripolyphosphate, tetrapotassium pyrophosphate, sodium hexametaphosphate

Plant-based protein foods

Sodium hexametaphosphate, sodium tripolyphosphate

Cereals

Disodium phosphate, tricalcium phosphate, trisodium phosphate

Eggs

Sodium hexametaphosphate, potassium tripolyphosphate, monosodium phosphate

Seafood

Sodium acid pyrophosphate, potassium tripolyphosphate, tetrapotassium pyrophosphate, sodium tripolyphosphate

Savory snacks, crackers, snack / meal bars

Calcium phosphate, sodium hexametaphosphate, tricalcium phosphate

Other desserts

Calcium phosphate, modified corn starch, disodium phosphate, tetrasodium pyrophosphate

Sugar sweetened / diet beverages / alcoholic beverages

Phosphoric acid

100% juice

Calcium phosphate

Fruits

Monopotassium phosphate

Soups

Disodium phosphate, tricalcium phosphate

Condiments, sauces

Phosphoric acid, disodium phosphate, modified food starch, sodium hexamonophosphate

Figure 6.3. Excessive phosphorous intake and its contribution to all-cause mortality

My colleague Kerry Bone, an expert herbalist from Australia, recommended that Charles go on a three-part program—one nearly identical to what you will follow during the second week of this phase of the Toxin Solution. On the program, Charles ate more nitrate-rich foods (green leafy vegetables and beet juice) and decreased inflammation by eating chocolate, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, and garlic. The primary supplements he took—fish oil, turmeric, and anthocyanins—also worked to decrease inflammation. The main herbal medicines on the program were ginger, gotu kola, and ginkgo biloba to improve microcirculation. Five months later, Charles returned for a reevaluation. Many kidney measures, including filtration, had improved dramatically.

Results like his are simply unheard of in conventional medicine, where kidney failure is always considered progressive. Months later, Charles was not on dialysis, and his filtration rate was like that of a fifty-year-old man.

The bottom line is that when the kidneys don’t function well, people can’t successfully detoxify. But that trend can be reversed. Relentless progressive loss of kidney function may be the norm, but it is certainly not inevitable. Thanks to following the protocol, the toxin filtration rate of Charles’s kidneys doubled, from 35 to 74—an improvement unheard of in conventional medicine. He experienced a steady improvement in health and well-being. Giving your body a chance to heal means stopping the damage and facilitating regeneration.

So how about you? Do you want the kidneys of someone many years older or of someone many years younger?

Improving Microcirculation

What can you do to improve your kidneys’ detoxification capacity? Since sufficient blood flow through the kidneys is so critical to detoxification, on this plan you will consume foods, herbs, and spices known to benefit kidney microcirculation. As you will notice, most of the items I recommend are widely available. Many of them are delicious. Undertaking this program is no hardship and conveys so many benefits. Over the next two weeks, please include in your daily nutrition as many of the following as possible:

 Beetroot juice

 Blueberries

 Chocolate

 Curcumin (turmeric)

 Ginkgo biloba

 Ginger

 Gotu kola

 A multivitamin

Beetroot Juice

On this plan, you will drink eight ounces of freshly juiced beets, twice a day. Beetroot juice is brimming with naturally occurring nitrates, which convert to nitric oxide when you eat or drink them. Nitric oxidedilates the blood vessels, leading to significantly increased blood flow. One study found that beetroot juice greatly improves the distance people with peripheral vascular disease can walk before they experience severe pain—evidence of its ability to improve circulation by dilating blood vessels. (See figure 6.4.)

Figure 6.4. Walking time in minutes until pain is experienced

Since one of the goals in reviving the kidneys is increasing microcirculation, you can see the extraordinary benefit of drinking beet juice for the kidneys.

Chocolate

Dark chocolate (choose the low- or no-sugar version with at least 65 percent cacao) also supports the kidneys by improving oxygenation and increasing blood flow to the kidneys.4 Other substances in chocolate, such as catechins, protect the kidneys from oxidative stress and from certain toxic drugs.5

Blueberries

Blueberries are close to a miracle drug. In chapter 4, I discussed how gut toxins damage the kidneys. Blueberries slightly increase the filtration rate in normal kidneys, while also protecting them from the dramatic lowering of the filtration rate caused by gut toxins.

Curcumin (Turmeric)

If you’re looking for even more reasons to eat curries, drink turmeric tea, and supplement with the Indian spice turmeric, curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) protects the kidneys from toxins, maintains filtration rates, and protects against cadmium.

Ginkgo Biloba

Ask any Western natural medicine practitioner what herb best improves circulation, and most will recommend ginkgo biloba—shown to improve blood supply in the brain and in other critical tissues. One study found that ginkgo improves kidney blood flow and function.6

An important study showed that ginkgo also effectively protects the kidneys from glyphosate, a common herbicide used in GMO agriculture that is especially toxic to the kidneys.7 Other animal studies have shown that ginkgo protects kidneys from mercury, uranium, naphthalene, and many other toxins.8 You will take ginkgo daily during the Two-Week Kidney Detox Protocol.

Ginger

During these two weeks, you will benefit from drinking ginger tea, using ginger to spice foods, and taking ginger supplements (if you wish). Although human studies have yet to catch up to animal studies, there’s plenty of research indicating that ginger both improves kidney function and protects the kidneys from cadmium. One study found that the anti-inflammatory effects of ginger were so strong, it was able to prevent most of the cadmium damage to the kidneys.9 Ginger’s anti-inflammatory benefits derive from its antioxidant properties, along with its ability to tune down pro-inflammatory genes.10 Another study found that ginger specifically increases the activity of the kidneys’ own antioxidant enzymes.

One animal study showed that ginger strongly protects from alcohol toxicity, while another showed that it protects from a pesticide.11 Many studies show that ginger protects the kidneys from carbon tetrachloride, chromates, fructose, gentamicin, ischemia, lead, cancer drugs, and other toxins.

Gotu Kola

Gotu kola has been used in Chinese traditional medicine to treat kidney diseases for a very long time. It improves microcirculation and reverses fibrosis (the thickening and scarring of connective tissue). Research suggests that gotu kola also offers protection from toxic drugs.12 Another study combined gotu kola with naringenin (from grapefruit) and showed that together they blocked the scar-tissue formation that decreases blood flow and causes so much damage in kidneys.13

Multivitamin

Finally, be sure to take a good-quality multivitamin and mineral supplement. I am not looking here for high dosages, but rather as many nutrients as possible, at around two times the recommended daily allowance (RDA).

Water

While detoxing, it’s vital to decrease the stress on your kidneys by drinking three to four quarts of clean water per day. Clean water means either distilled water, water that is bottled in glass, or water that is filtered through a carbon block filter or reverse osmosis. This helps keep the toxins diluted as they move through your system, especially your kidneys. This is not about drinking as much as you can. You can overload your kidneys with too much water.

Alkalinizing Your Tissues

The program outlined at the beginning of this chapter 6 will both decrease the toxic load on your kidneys and stimulate circulation and filtration. Key to this program is that some toxins are best excreted when the urine is more alkaline and others are best eliminated when the urine is more acid. Fortunately, you can control the acid-alkaline balance. Although there are many subtleties to this, eating a protein-rich diet will tend to acidify your urine, while consuming a diet with plentiful fruits and vegetables will tend to alkalinize your urine. Since virtually everyone is way too acidic, during weeks 7 and 8, on this plan, you will emphasize alkalinizing your urine by eating the foods and taking the supplements I recommend.

In order to further facilitate your body’s alkalinity, you can continue to take mineral citrates. At least a gram a day of magnesium plus potassium citrates is the recommended dose. This will give you two solid weeks of alkalinizing.

To accomplish that, as much as possible eat organically grown food (see the Dirty Dozen chapter 3 and Clean 15 chapter 3), with your meals prepared low in salt and phosphates and high in fiber.

Another method for alkalinizing the system is to use a specific breathing exercise. This breathing pattern will result in your exhaling more carbon dioxide than usual—another way of getting acid out of the body.

When you breathe, you exhale carbon dioxide. This results in slight alkalinization of the blood. When deeper breathing is continued for several minutes at a time, the cells, pericellular spaces (the spaces surrounding a cell), and kidneys become more alkaline, resulting in an increased excretion of toxins. Breathing calmly and slowly does not mean hyperventilating. Too much breathing can be as much of a problem as too little. During this week, you need to consciously breathe more deeply more often. Rather than recommend a specific breathing protocol, I suggest you go to one of the many yoga websites that provide recommendations on safe deep breathing. Some may wonder if “alkaline water” would help here. Unfortunately I could not find any solid research that addressed this important question.

Review of Kidney Cleanse

In sum, during these two weeks, decrease salt and phosphates; drink plenty of clean water; eat leafy green vegetables, blueberries, raspberries, citrus fruits, beet juice, gotu kola, ginkgo biloba, ginger, and curcumin; and engage daily in the breathing exercises.

Remember, if toxins are being released too quickly, you will feel sicker and your vitality will be lower. If you have especially high levels of some specific toxins, it can even be dangerous. This is very unlikely, but the risk is not zero. An extreme example is what happened in Japan to people living in the city of Minamata. Due to high levels of highly toxic industrial methyl mercury released into a river where people fished, the population had a lot of neurological disease. When they lost weight—for whatever reason—their neurological symptoms got much worse because the body could not get rid of the mercury fast enough.

Your health is in your hands, and by protecting your kidneys with foods, herbs, and spices that support microcirculation and other kidney functions, you can markedly improve your kidneys’ capacity to detox your blood.