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Digestive Health

Kidneys – they don’t need to roll any stones

Published March 22nd, 2016 in Digestive Health, HN4U Blog, Inflammatory Illnesses

by Tammera J Karr, PhD, BCHN, BCIH

Over the years, the one health challenge that motivates the most to implement immediate dietary changes is kidney stones. No one wants to live through the pain of passing stones a second time.

While many have experienced the pain of kidney stones, some may not realize the potential for death by ignoring their kidneys. This is most often the case for women who put off drinking adequate water to maintain kidney health; individual’s such as teachers, nurses, and law enforcement rank at the top of the list for severing kidney health risks. This was personally brought to my attention when a colleague of mine, had a kidney stone obstruct one of their kidneys, which lead to a life-threatening infection. However, adults are not the only ones at risk, the likelihood of kidney stones developing in adolescents is escalating in America.

Keeping your kidneys stone free involves more than urinating on a regular basis and drinking liquids. Today one of the leading causes of kidney stones is soda-pop and various other favorite drinks.

In a study summary from January 14, 2016 – Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, states some alarming statistics regarding the growing prevalence of kidney stones in children.

“Kidney stones are increasing, particularly among adolescents, females, and African-Americans in the US, a striking change from the historical pattern in which middle-aged white men were at highest risk for the painful condition. A worrisome aspect of this trend is that there is limited evidence on how to best treat children for kidney stones.”

“These trends of increased frequency of kidney stones among adolescents, particularly females, are also concerning when you consider that kidney stones are associated with a higher risk of chronic kidney disease, cardiovascular and bone disease, particularly among young women.”

“Drawing on state medical records, the study team analyzed data from nearly 153,000 child and adult kidney stone patients from a total population of 4.6 million. Overall, the annual incidence of kidney stones increased 16 percent between 1997 and 2012. The greatest rates of increase were among adolescents (4.7 percent per year), females (3 percent per year), and African-Americans (2.9 percent per year). Between 1997 and 2012 the risk of kidney stones doubled during childhood for both boys and girls while there was a 45 percent increase in the lifetime risk for women.”

“The highest rate of increase in kidney stones was among adolescent females, and in any given year, stones were more common among females than males aged 10 to 24 years. After age 25, kidney stones became more common among men.”

So how has the increase in kidney disease come about? Primarily because local schools are now filled with, processed foods and vending machines filled with soda pop. Without even knowing it our schools and the health of our children has been sold-out to big food. Roadways to and from schools are the preferred locations for fast food franchises and markets. Here is a little history of how this started.
[In 1970, Congress amended the Child Nutrition Act to permit the secretary of agriculture to regulate “competitive foods”—foods and beverages sold in competition with the National School Lunch Program and National School Breakfast Program. Schools sell competitive foods in cafeterias, vending machines, and other locations to expand the range of food choices and generate revenue. Under regulations promulgated by the secretary of agriculture, sales of competitive foods are permitted at meal times at the discretion of state and local authorities, if all sales revenue accrues to the benefit of the school, and state and local authorities prohibit the sale of “foods of minimal nutritional value” in the food service areas during meal periods.
The latter condition, coupled with the secretary’s designation of “soda water” and certain sweets as foods of minimal nutritional value, prompted a legal challenge in 1983 by the National Soft Drink Association.]
In 2003, Arkansas became the first state to ban student-accessible vending machines in elementary schools. This is a result of the Framingham study, which has tracked obesity, heart disease and diabetes in rural populations for over 20 years. While I may not agree with all the information in this study, the information on childhood obesity is difficult to ignore.
Soda pop due to its content of phosphorus and citric acid, change the chemical balance within the kidneys, this allows minerals commonly suspended in our blood to separate out and begin collecting and forming gravel and stones. Some kidney stones are high in uric acid content, this results in an illness known as gout; gout has been considered a rich man’s illness because of the high levels of refined foods historically found in the diet of the affluent.
Currently, the CDC using data from 2008, estimates there are more than 20 million people chronic kidney disease, of varying levels of seriousness in the United States. With the information presented in the 2014 study by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the CDC estimates are grossly underestimated. The continuation of the current western diet in America costs a heavy toll in the pandemic of type 2 diabetes, soon to be followed by kidney disease. Isn’t it time we take control of our foods and those being fed to our children once more?

Voting with your fork does make a difference; big food cannot afford to lose our money.