Is dialysis imminent or is there anything I can do with diet to slow progression of PKD?
Does this Sound Like You?
If you have polycystic kidney disease you may feel like dialysis is just another life step. Someday. But you don't know when. Usually years and years, but it seems to always hang over your head.
You visit the doctor. You ask if there is anything you can do with diet but more or less are told to cut sodium, maintain a healthy weight, and hope for the best. Your symptoms are managed, you slowly get more and more medications over time, and you may or may not be given drugs like Tolvaptan to extend the life of your kidneys.
You dread your doctor visits knowing that one of these days your somewhat normal kidney function may "just start dropping" as the cyst growth advances.
You hope there might be another way. You FEEL like there should be something else you can do. Dietary lifestyle changes work for so many other types of kidney problems, why can't it work for you and PKD? You're certainly are willing to give any reasonable suggestion a try. It's your life after all.
Hope on the Horizon
Until recently (2018ish), addressing polycystic kidney disease with nutrition seemed to yield lukewarm results. Because PKD is such a slowly progressing disease, dietary interventions are generally extremely difficult to study. In nutrition studies, it also is complicated to measure cyst growth in patients to watch for impact and quantify what this may look like.
This means, of course, that looking at animal studies and thinking carefully through the physiological pathways in applying to humans can be helpful.
In 2018, Dr. Thomas Weimbs and his research group at Santa Barbara University published some groundbreaking studies on the impact of beta-hydroxy butyrate (BHB) production, oxalates and their role in PKD.
What in the world does this mean for you or anyone else with PKD?
It means there is hope using dietary strategies for PKD. BHB production can be produced naturally in the body from a variety of DIETARY interventions including ketogenic diets, intermittent fasting, and calorie reduction. In addition, there is some evidence that too much oxalate in the blood may also contribute to PKD.
BHB and Oxalates - say what?!? and HOW????
In your journey with kidney disease you've heard cut sodium, cut potasisum, cut protein, and now this? Now oxalates, and BHB - it all sounds too much. But you're willing to try if someone will show you how.
Here's the good news. This is doable.
At the Kidney RD we use a step-wise, comprehensive approach to make dietary changes doable. Really. We start with the most important pieces first, make sure you can do it, look carefully at labs, talk with your doctor, and then refine over a period of 90 days so that you feel completely confident and educated about what you need to do. We teach you how to naturally generate BHB in your body using a ketogenic diet or intermittent fasting, target reducing oxalate concentration in your blood (hint - its more than eating less oxalate), and address other concerns like anemia, potassium, or inflammation.