By: Andreas Moritz
Posted: September 30, 2012 — updated 2016
Book excerpt: Feel Great, Lose Weight
The kidneys perform one of the most delicate balancing acts in the human body – maintaining the right acid-alkaline concentration of sodium and potassium in the blood and other fluids. While sodium is an alkaline mineral, potassium is acidic. The ratio between these two natural minerals is expressed as the pH (power of hydrogen) value and needs to be maintained within an extremely narrow range.
One of the main reasons is that every one of the 100 trillion cells in your body needs a certain specific pH value so that they can perform even their basic functions. This job is entrusted to the kidneys. If your body’s internal environment tilts towards being acidic, you run the risk of suffering from acidosis; and depending on your diet, you will speed towards a toxicity crisis. Alternatively, if your blood and other fluids tilt towards being too alkaline, you run the risk of alkalosis.
When the optimal pH value is under threat, the kidneys are forced to take defensive action in an attempt to restore the imbalance. Among these measures are kidney congestion, kidney stones and fluid retention, all of which are associated with weight gain.
As we have seen with other organs such as the liver, small intestine and bowels, congestion causes a toxicity crisis, which in turn leads to various health issues such as obesity, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, stomach ulcers, hypertension, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and many other chronic diseases.
Some of the main factors contributing to toxicity and kidney congestion are dehydration and the consumption of acid-forming foods.
Dehydration results from insufficient water intake; consuming foods and beverages that have a dehydrating effect (meat, artificial sweeteners, sugar, alcohol, tea, coffee and sodas); smoking cigarettes; or watching television for too many hours at a stretch.
Feeding off a diet rich in acid-forming foods, such as meat, fish, dairy products, baked goods, candy, and sugar, is another way the kidneys get congested, as is consuming foods and beverages that contain large amounts of oxalic acid.
Body drought occurs when you don’t drink enough water. Most individuals substitute this life-giving fluid with processed beverages and drinks that contain caffeine such as tea and coffee.
When the body is dehydrated, the pH value gets altered. Also, the amount of water outside the cells increases to help neutralize the toxic waste products that have accumulated there. The kidneys begin to hold on to water, drastically reducing urinary secretion and causing further retention of potentially harmful waste products. As a result, fluid builds up in various parts of the body, selectively in some individuals, and across tissues and organs in others. This puffiness and bloating, also called water edema, leads to weight gain.
If water retention alone does not actually make an individual obese, it is usually a contributory factor, more in some individuals than others. Normally, cellular enzymes signal to the brain when cells run low on water. Enzymes in dehydrated cells, however, become so inefficient that they are no longer able to register the drought-like condition. Subsequently, they fail to convey the emergency situation to the brain, which would normally push the ‘thirst alarm button’. This results in a vicious cycle.
At the neurotransmitter level, the Renin-Angiotensin (RA) system is activated whenever there is a water shortage in the body. Apart from signaling the kidneys to inhibit urination, it also signals the blood vessels to constrict in order to reduce the amount of fluid circulating, which could potentially cause water loss. This is one reason why obesity is usually accompanied by cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension. The RA system also stimulates an increase in the absorption of sodium or salt, which helps the body retain water.
Ironic as it may sound, the main solution for water retention is to drink water! That’s because it facilitates the release of toxins and brings down the acid levels in the blood and other fluids. The body no longer needs to store water to save itself. Here’s something you might want to think about if you’re not drinking sufficient water:
- An estimated 75 percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated
- In 37 percent of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak, it is mistaken for hunger. According to research at the University of Washington, drinking just one glass of water shuts down ‘midnight hunger’ for almost 100 percent of dieters involved in the study
- Even mild dehydration slows down your metabolism by 3 percent
Kidney stones are another manifestation of congestion. There are different kinds of stones depending on their composition, which in turn depends on the specific biochemical process that is off-balance.
Stones begin as tiny crystals and can eventually become as large as an egg. The tiny crystals are too small to be detected by X-rays, and since they do not cause pain, they are rarely noticed. Yet they are big enough to block the flow of liquid through the tiny kidney tubules. Crystals or stones are formed in the kidneys when urinary constituents, which are normally in solution, are precipitated. Precipitation occurs when these particles occur in excessive amounts or when urine becomes too concentrated. Most crystals or stones originate in the kidneys, although some may also be formed in the bladder.
If a large stone enters one of the two ureters, urinary discharge becomes obstructed. This can lead to serious complications such as kidney infection or failure. Regardless of where in the kidneys the blockage occurs, it restricts their ability to remove and regulate water and chemicals, causing these delicate organs to suffer injury.
Some studies claim that kidney stones bring around 2 million individuals to a doctor’s clinic every year. According to these studies, obese women have a 90 percent higher risk of developing kidney stones than women who are not obese. Obese men have a 33 percent higher risk.
Some researchers believe that abnormal accumulation of fat tissue induces insulin resistance, causing changes to the urine that favor the growth of kidney stones.
Others believe that another reason why obese individuals are prone to developing kidney stones is the over-consumption of soft drinks and colas. Soft drinks are highly acidic and have radical mineral imbalances. To counterbalance this and restore the body’s pH level, the kidneys draw calcium from the bones and other tissues. Excess levels of calcium in the kidneys promote the development of stones in these organs.
Cutting soft drinks out of your diet is one of the biggest favors you can do yourself. This includes sports drinks or ‘energy drinks’, which according to a study by the University of California in Berkeley can raise body weight by a stunning 13 pounds a year if only one 20-ounce bottle is consumed every day.
Another study, conducted at Boston University School of Medicine, shows that drinking as little as one can of soda per day – regular or diet – is associated with a 46 percent increased risk of metabolic syndrome, which plays a major role in heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
According to the study, other harmful side effects of soda, both diet and regular, include:
- A 31 percent greater risk of becoming obese
- A 30 percent higher risk of having a larger waistline
- A 25 percent higher risk of developing high blood triglycerides or high blood sugar
- A 32 percent greater risk of having low levels of good cholesterol
- An increased risk of high blood pressure
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