There is a direct link between excess body weight and kidney disease. The kidneys undergo strain and subsequent damage due to excessive food consumption or binge eating. Moreover, obesity-related conditions like insulin intolerance, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure can result in kidney failure.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), kidney cancer, and kidney stones affect 24-33% of overweight and obese individuals in the U.S.

If left untreated, kidney problems can lead to serious health issues and even death. In this guide, we will discuss different bariatric options for losing weight to help your renal health and additional natural ways to avoid dialysis and transplants.

What is Obesity?

Obesity is a multifactorial metabolic disease affecting over half of the population worldwide.

A body mass index (BMI) of between 25 and 29.9 is classified as overweight, while a BMI above 30 indicates obesity, signifying that your weight exceeds the healthy range.

Accumulation of fat around our body has detrimental health consequences such as increased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, stroke, kidney disease, sleep apnea, and more.

Abdominal Obesity BMI Chart -Mexico Bariatric Center

Kidney Disease

Often overlooked, our kidney is one of the most essential organs in our body. The kidneys are bean-shaped structures located below the rib cage consisting of small tubes called nephrons. They are responsible for cleaning the blood by filtering waste products, toxins, chemicals, and excess fluid, getting rid of them in the urine.

As we age, we lose some tissue mass and kidney function. The real cause of renal illness, however, is the obesity paradox. People who are obese experience a quicker rate of progression and loss of renal function.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Chronic kidney disease (glomerular hyperfiltration) occurs when the kidney cannot filter excess fluid and waste from the blood, and it remains in the body. Albumin (a type of protein) passes through these filters and ends up in the urine, where it should not be when the kidneys are damaged. CKD is typically characterized by a gradual decline in kidney function over months to years. This condition can result from various factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, recurrent kidney infections, or other conditions that impair the kidneys.

Chronic Kidney Disease CDC StatsCKD Stages

CKD is divided into stages based on the level of kidney function, with treatment aimed at slowing down its progression and managing associated complications. There are 5 Stages of Chronic Kidney Disease:

  • Stage 1 Normal (GFR > 90 mL/min)
  • Stage 2 Mild (GFR = 60-89 mL/min)
  • Stage 3A Moderate (GFR = 45-59 mL/min)
  • Stage 3B Moderate (GFR = 30-44 mL/min)
  • Stage 4 Severe (GFR = 15-29 mL/min)
  • Stage 5 End Stage (GFR <15 mL/min)

End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) and Renal Fibrosis are the final stages of renal malfunction, where the kidneys have been permanently damaged. It leads to cardiovascular and infectious events, necessitating either dialysis or a kidney transplant for survival.

Ways to Detect CKD

Visual Test – Dark yellow or brown, foamy, cloudy, or with an unusual smell, urine can be a sign of a problem.

Blood Test – It determines the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), which shows how well the kidneys filter waste. Another indicator is the creatinine (Cr) level. Typical Cr results for men are less than 1.2 mg/dL and 1 mg/dL for women.

Urine Test – It checks for albumin. Albumin is a protein that can pass into the urine.

Connection Between Obesity and CKD

Simply put, being overweight can harm our kidneys. Obese people consume way too much food with sodium, phosphorus, potassium, and protein. Extra fat affects our metabolism, blood pressure, and insulin, which can hurt our kidneys over time. Carrying too much weight makes our bodies produce more substances that cause inflammation and stress. Also, the kidneys have to work harder to filter waste when we’re overweight, which raises the risk of kidney problems like kidney disease and stones. Conditions linked to obesity, like diabetes and high blood pressure, make the risk for CKD even higher.

Studies from the U.K. show that a 5 kg/m2 increase in BMI, going from ideal weight to overweight or overweight to obese, doubles the risk of CKD and ESRD.

Obesity and Kidney Disease -Mexico Bariatric Center

Four Ways Obesity Affects Kidney Health

  1. The extra weight forces the kidneys to work harder and filter wastes above the normal level.
  2. Obesity-related insulin resistance could make someone more likely to develop kidney stones, also known as “nephrolithiasis” (damage to the tubular structure of the kidney).
  3. Obese individuals with type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of renal failure, known as Diabetic Kidney Disease (DKD). The extra sugar in their blood damages the kidneys’ vessels and filters over time, making them narrower and clogged. Around 38% of people who get diabetes also end up with chronic kidney disease.
  4. Obesity accounts for the majority of hypertension (high blood pressure). Hypertension is also the culprit for developing kidney disease.

Connection Between Obesity and Kidney Stones

The association between obesity and kidney stones stems from various factors, including dietary habits, dehydration, metabolic syndrome, and urinary tract obstruction. Obesity often accompanies poor dietary choices and inadequate hydration, both of which can increase the likelihood of kidney stone formation. Furthermore, the metabolic changes associated with obesity, such as insulin resistance and abnormal lipid levels, can alter the urinary environment, promoting stone development. Additionally, the physical pressure exerted by excess weight on the kidneys and surrounding structures may contribute to urinary tract obstruction, further elevating the risk of stone formation.

Explore your Options for Kidney Wellness

Ways to Prevent Obesity Related Kidney Disease -Mexico Bariatric Center

– Bariatric Surgery

If you’re struggling to lose weight, there are weight loss surgery options like gastric bypass or gastric sleeve that can help. These surgeries can reduce the amount of food you eat and help you shed those extra pounds, relieving pressure on your kidneys. This surgery can also decrease inflammation and proteinuria, markers of kidney damage, while addressing comorbid conditions like diabetes and hypertension that contribute to kidney disease. Additionally, bariatric surgery may resolve obstructive sleep apnea, further benefiting kidney function.

Bariatric surgery can also reduce diabetes and high blood pressure, which are also two leading causes of kidney disease.

Gastric Bypass (RNY): This surgery involves creating a small pouch from the stomach and connecting it directly to the small intestine, bypassing a portion of the stomach and intestine. This reduces the amount of food you can eat and limits the absorption of nutrients, aiding in weight loss.

Gastric Sleeve (VSG): With this procedure, a portion of the stomach is removed, leaving a smaller sleeve-shaped stomach. This limits the amount of food you can eat and also decreases the production of appetite-stimulating hormones, helping you feel full with less food and facilitating weight loss.

See if you Qualify for Weight Loss Surgery

– Lifestyle Changes

Minor changes to your diet and exercise habits can also make a big difference. Eating healthier foods and being more active can help you lose weight and improve your kidney health. Incorporating more vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains into your meals while cutting back on processed foods and sugary beverages can support weight management. Additionally, engaging in regular physical activity such as walking, swimming, or cycling strengthens your heart, muscles, and bones. These changes not only help you lose weight but also lower the risk of conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, which harm your kidneys.

– Natural Remedies

There are also natural ways to support your kidneys, like taking herbal supplements or practicing relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation. These methods can help reduce stress on your kidneys and keep them functioning well. Drinking plenty of water is essential for kidney health as it flushes out toxins and waste from the body. Eating foods with antioxidants like berries, greens, and nuts can protect your kidneys by fighting harmful substances called free radicals. Also, cutting down on drinking too much alcohol and quitting smoking can improve kidney function and overall health.

Wrapping Up

Obesity and metabolic syndrome can take a toll on our kidneys, but there are plenty of ways to protect them. By making healthy lifestyle choices, considering bariatric options if needed, and exploring natural remedies, you can take control of your kidney health.

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