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Are You on the Road to Kidney Failure?

Posted Jun 16 2009 7:19pm

In This Issue:

Kidney Failure –The Unknown Epidemic

By James LaValle, R.Ph, ND, CCN

Most of us are aware of all the health problems that can result from insulin resistance like heart dialysis  disease, diabetes, and hypertension,  But lost in the shuffle is another silent killer that is on the rise — chronic kidney disease. At LMI we’ve noticed a growing number of patients with kidney problems.

Our experience reflects both a national and international trend.  Kidney disease is increasing in young and old alike in the U.S. and around the world. 1,2 And that’s why I feel compelled to warn you about it — and tell you how to keep your kidneys healthy.

Here’s some background. You have two kidneys, whose job is to remove wastes from the blood and to excrete them via urine; they then return cleaned blood to the body. The kidneys keep water and minerals at healthy levels and produce important hormones.

When the kidneys are diseased, they can’t efficiently filter out wastes and excess fluids. As the disease progresses, urine production decreases and eventually stops. At that point you need dialysis — a process in which the blood is filtered via either a machine or fluids that can be held in the abdominal cavity.

The primary causes of kidney disease are high blood pressure, diabetes or obesity. Indeed, obesity triples your risk, 3 and the damage to kidneys from high blood sugar or blood pressure can occur even at the pre-disease stages.

So the first steps for protecting your kidneys are obvious: control your weight, blood sugar and blood pressure.  It is also important to keep yourself well hydrated. If you do that, you should have a very good chance of retaining good kidney function into your old age.

However, there are other factors that could be playing just as important a role in the health of your kidneys, and most people don’t know a thing about them.  Environmental chemicals and heavy metals damage kidney tissue and so can common over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers.

For example, a study has found that a group of Central Americans who don’t have diabetes or high blood pressure is nevertheless experiencing high rates of kidney failure. 5 The suspected cause: agricultural chemicals.

Heavy metals from the environment can also accumulate in the kidneys and can damage them. 4 We are exposed to heavy metals like cadmium, mercury and lead everyday from mercury in our fish, cadmium in our air, and lead in our pipes for example.

Common OTC painkillers such as acetaminophen and aspirin have also been linked to kidney disease. 5 One study looked at people with end-stage kidney failure and found that heavier acetaminophen use increases the risk of kidney failure, with the heaviest use of 5000 or more pills over several years more than doubling one’s risk.  In fact, about 10% of kidney failure is from acetaminophen use. 6

Here are some ways to protect yourself.  First, be very careful not to overuse acetaminophen.  I see so many people making this big mistake, never realizing that it is compromising their kidneys.  If you have daily headaches, get to a practitioner who can help you get to their root cause, but don’t think for a minute that daily pain reliever is not seriously affecting you.

If you do need to use it, take some N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), a supplement that is given in cases of acetaminophen overdose. This is a powerful antioxidant derived from the amino acid cysteine, which is found in foods. NAC increases levels of the natural antioxidant glutathione, especially in the liver where glutathione also helps to detoxify the body of toxins like heavy metals and pesticides.

I highly recommend NAC for those who regularly take acetaminophen or ibuprofen, and usually recommend 600 to1200 mg per day.

To protect yourself against heavy metals, there are several other substance that have been shown to facilitate their removal from the body:

  • Vitamin C.  Vitamin C also increases glutathione production, helping to detoxify and remove heavy metals including mercury and lead from the body. I recommend 1-2 g of vitamin C daily.
  • Cilantro ( Coriandrum sativum). Cilantro has been shown to help with detoxification of lead and mercury. Try to include cilantro as an herb in salads, soups, and pestos to help rid your body of mercury and other toxins.
  • Aged Garlic Extract ( Allium sativum). Components found in aged garlic extract help balance the immune system and detoxify the body by activating the antioxidants glutathione and superoxide dismutase (SOD). Aged garlic activates Phase 2 enzymes in the liver which protect the body from potential carcinogens.  The typical dosage is 600 mg once or twice a day.

Chronic kidney failure comes on slowly and silently so I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to take good care of your kidneys.  Since kidney disease can be hard to stop once it is set into motion, this is one condition where prevention is vitally important.


  1. USRDS 2008 Annual Data Report: Atlas of Chronic Kidney Disease and End-Stage Renal Disease in the United States.” NIH 2008.
  2. J Hypertens. 2005 Oct;23(10):1771-6.
  3. Science Daily. Retrieved November 15, 2007, from
  5. Nephron Physiology. 2005 99(4): 105-110.
  6. N Engl J Med. 2001 Dec 20;345(25):1801-8.
  7. Acta Biomed. 2005;76 Suppl 2:58-67.
  8. NEJM. 1994. 331 (24):1675-79.

[ Ed. Note: James LaValle is the founding Director of the LaValle Metabolic Institute, one of the largest integrative medicine practices in the country.  Dr. LaValle is the author of The Metabolic Code Diet: Unleashing the Power of Your Metabolism for Lasting Weight Loss and Vitality and the Executive Editor of THB’s The Healing Prescription.  To learn more, click here.]

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 jumping Cutting Edge Fitness:

Look Before You Leap!

By Missy Hawthorne, RN, CSCS

Have you ever watched kids jump rope or play hopscotch? Watch as they approach a set ofbleachers. I have yet to see a child slowly take the bleachers one step at a time! Kids love to jump and leap! They jump down from couches and jump on beds! Yes, early in our development, we humans innately know we must develop the ability to absorb force before we get to the point of producing force. 1

Movements like jumping, bounding and hopping using the lower body, and swinging, catching and throwing using the upper body are known as plyometric exercise.  And whether you are sports-minded or not, plyometric training is one of the best activities you can do to increase your strength and prevent injury in everyday living.

What is Plyometric Exercise?
Plyometrics is defined as “exercises that enable the muscle to reach maximum strength in as short a time as possible.” 2 Plyometric exercise is rapid, powerful, explosive movement like jumping, rebounding, or hopping that is repeated again and again. The goal of plyometric training is to raise explosive power.

It does this by training the muscles and tendons of the lower body in movements like hopping and bounding, and the upper body in movements like swinging or throwing.  This trains the muscles and tendons to shorten and lengthen as quickly as possible and enables the body to shorten the length of time between each bound or throw.

While at first glance you might think plyometrics would be most useful for an athlete, it is actually great training to prevent everyday injuries that can occur — for example, when moving furniture in your home. Even pushing a chair to vacuum under it could cause a muscle pull unless you’ve been training.

Plyometric exercise is a great way to train, but several considerations need to be made. So here are a few important questions to consider before you take the leap into plyometrics.

Is Plyometrics Appropriate for Me?
If you have remained active throughout most of your adult years, chances are you have been doing activity or exercise that is plyometric in nature. However, a trainer can help you examine if you have the necessary prerequisites to start plyometric training.

The biggest concern with plyometrics is whether the individual can absorb force in a healthy manner? Is there proper stability in the hip, knee ankle complex?  Is there proper core mechanics? Age is not a big concern as long as the above parameters of mechanics, absorption capability, core strength and strong posture are evident.

Body type, however is critical. Overweight individuals, whether from muscle or fat, will absorb heavier loads when landing and therefore need to limit the number of jumps and landings in order to prevent injury.  Your health status and any past injuries will also affect these considerations.

How Do I Get Started and is Plyometrics Really Safe?
Progression, progression, progression is the key to safe plyometric exercise. Use the K.I.S.S. principle; keep it simple stupid! Begin with simple basic movements like marching or skipping and progress to lunging and then on to jumps.

Here’s an example of a progressive jumping drill: start with stand-in-place jumps, then move on to standing jumps, multiple jumps, bounding/cone drills and box jumps.

If you would like to add plyometric training to your fitness program, enlist the help of a trainer to assess whether you would be prone to injury and to help you build a base level of fitness.

This fun, strength-building exercise activity can play a major role in enhancing your performance, whether it improves your fastball or enables you to jump out of the way of traffic!


  1. Rogers, R. 2009. Look Before You Jump. IDEAFitness Journal. 53-58.
  2. Chu, D.1996. Explosive & Power. Champaign, IL. Human Kinetics.

[ Ed. Note: Melissa Hawthorne, RN, BSN, CSCS is the owner of Priority Fitness Personal Training and Wellness.  She is a Master Trainer for the Resist-a-ball Company, ISCA Personal Training, Kick-boxing, and Beamfit.   Melissa serves as a fitness consultant for the LaValle Metabolic Institute.  To learn more, click here.]

baby food Health Nutrition:

Getting Kids to Eat Healthier

By Laura LaValle, RD, LD

Many families in the United States find it difficult to get kids to eat healthy. We tend to think thatit’s because healthier foods don’t taste as good as unhealthy foods. However, in looking at the eating patterns of children and adults in other countries and cultures, we see that taste is not a deterrent; children in other countries eat many foods that would probably be patently rejected by American children.

For example, Japanese parents feed their children fish broth at very young ages, and one of the first solid foods is a rice porridge to which small bits of dried fish, tofu and even mashed pumpkin are eventually added.

In many cultures, insects are a staple food, and are sometimes eaten by a child even before she can chew them.  How?  Just like birds, the parent chews them first and then feeds them to the child.  Inuit children in the Arctic often eat seaweed and seal blubber. So is it really the taste of the foods?  Clearly our tastes are learned.

Since learning of eating habits like these, I have always felt that children in the US reject healthier foods like vegetables and fish because they are not introduced to them early enough or often enough — and studies are verifying just that.  Researchers have found that a mom’s eating habits even during pregnancy influence a child’s food preferences.

Studies have shown that infants that are breastfed are more accepting of a variety of fruits and vegetables when they start eating solid foods if their mother ate those vegetables and fruits during pregnancy. 1

Other studies have found that repeated exposures to fruits and vegetables with baby foods will improve the child’s intake of those foods as they grow older.  So, if you haven’t yet had children and are planning to, one way to get your child to eat better is to do so yourself and to feed healthier foods to children regularly.

The problem we have in the US is that our unhealthy eating patterns are being passed on to our kids.  I once noticed a mother feeding her infant who looked to be about 7 or 8 months old.  At first she was feeding the baby from a jar of vegetable baby food.

After a few spoonfuls, the baby seemed to be slowing down on the food, at which time, the mother stated, “Aw, you don’t like those yucky vegetables.  Well, here’s something good.”  At that point, she took out a baggy of cheese puffs out and started breaking off small pieces and feeding them to the child.

I had no doubt that later on that mother would bemoan the fact that she couldn’t get her child to eat healthy.  Would she remember the many times she had actually taught her child that vegetables were yucky and junk food was good?  Probably not.

Too many times if the parents don’t like the foods, they don’t feed them to the children. We need to realize that even if we don’t like them, our children can learn to like them if we give them a chance.  So don’t sell your children short.

If you are the parents of a young child who is already rejecting healthier foods, with persistence you can turn the situation around.  The primary goals are to decrease the sugar intake as much as possible and to increase anti-inflammatory foods such as vegetables and beans.

The challenge of getting your child to eat nutritious food begins at home. One study showed that it took 8 to 15 exposures to a new food to increase acceptance of it.2  Explore different produce items often and don’t give up on a food before introducing it at least 8 times.  I recommend trying the food cooked and seasoned using different techniques.

To lower sugar intake, label comparisons can go a long way, especially with items like granola bars, where there is a huge variance in sugar content.

And when eating out, think beyond the kids menu and take advantage of the size and price of appetizers and side dishes. Experiment to see if your child will eat spinach and artichoke dip with some pita chips and a few carrot sticks, or a chicken skewer dipped in ketchup or a little bit of honey mustard.  Be persistent; it does pay off with the most important benefit — a healthier child.


  1. Textbook of Human Lactation. Amarillo, TX: Hale Publishing; 2007: 403– 413.
  2. J of Nutr Ed and Behav. 2003. 35(6) 337-38.

[ Ed. Note: Laura B. LaValle, RD, LD is presently the director of dietetics nutrition at LaValle Metabolic Institute.   Laura and her husband, Jim LaValle, R.Ph, CCN, ND have developed the powerful and life-changing Metabolic Code Diet containing step-by-step, easy to follow recommendations for harnessing optimal metabolic energy and turning your body’s chemical make up into a fat-burning furnace.  To learn more click here now.]

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chickpeas Healthy Recipes:

Summer Chickpea Salad

By Laura LaValle, RD, LD

Chickpeas are versatile legumes that go well with many different spices.  This Mediterranean-typesalad is a refreshing addition to your summer picnic spread.  Experiment with different spices and flavored vinegars for variety.

Serves: 4
Time to Table: 20 minutes

Healing Nutrient Spotlight
Excellent source of folate, vitamin B-12, manganese
Good source of vitamin C, iron, magnesium, copper

1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1 cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1 T. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1 T. olive oil
3 T. balsamic vinegar
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

*Use organic ingredients for optimal nutrition.

In a large bowl, toss together chickpeas, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, garlic, parsley flakes and dried basil. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss until well combined and adjust seasonings as needed. Cover and refrigerate at least 45 minutes before serving. Serve chilled.

159 calories, 6 g protein, 23 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 3 g monounsaturated fat, 1 g polyunsaturated fat, 4 g sugars, 6 g fiber, 296 IU vitamin A, .11 mg thiamin, .19 mg vitamin B-6, 119 mcg folate, 1.4 mcg vitamin B-12, 7 mg vitamin C, .27 mg copper, 2 mg iron, 41 mg magnesium, .75 mg manganese, 357 mg potassium, 2.7 mcg selenium, 296 mg sodium, 1.08 mg zinc

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