Take a look at this PBS video sent to me by one of our readers – and try not to punch your monitor near the end:

So close …

Okay, let’s focus on the positive for now. I was delighted to hear one of the on-screen experts explain that high glucose levels appear to cause repeated injury to the kidneys.

Well-meaning people have tried to warn me over that a “high protein” diet is hard on the kidneys.  Why? Because damaged kidneys leak protein.  But that doesn’t mean protein is causing the damage.  If your kitchen pipes start leaking water, do you assume the damage was caused by water?  Of course not.  The kidneys are damaged by excess glucose, and then they leak protein.

I was delighted again to hear a researcher explain that ketones can be used as an alternate energy source by most cells in the body, and that on a ketogenic diet  the body switches from being primarily a glucose-metabolizing machine to a fat-and-ketone metabolizing machine.

As I like to explain it to people, you can be sugar-burner or a fat-burner. I find life as a fat-burner much more pleasant … more consistent energy, better mood, no more creeping weight gain, and no more ravenous hunger if I skip a meal. As I write this, I’m 23 hours into a 24-hour intermittent fasting day, and I feel fine.

I was delighted yet again when the researchers speculated that removing glucose from the picture might help the kidneys recover, then discovered that putting mice on a ketogenic diet did indeed reverse the kidney damage caused by diabetes. Sure, it’s just a rodent study with results that may or may not apply to humans, but as the researcher said, it’s a proof of principle, an avenue to be explored.

All right!  Cool!  Great story so far. I was anxiously waiting for the part where he suggests we try the same diet on diabetic humans with damaged kidneys in a clinical trial.

And that’s when it all went south:

But the researchers are quick to point out that what happened to the mice does not mean that people with kidney disease should switch to a high fat diet, which could cause other health problems.

Say what?!  A diet that reverses kidney damage is going to kill you by … doing what, exactly?  Giving you heart disesae?  Are you telling me we’re going to examine these startling results through the lens of the ancient and discredited Lipid Hypothesis?

Yes, apparently we are.

“We don’t want to put anyone on the diet itself.  We just want to figure out how the diet works so that we can replicate the effects of the diet in a drug.”

Head.  Bang.  On.  Desk.

105 Responses to “Diabetes, Kidney Damage, and Ketogenic Diets”
  1. Dean, please read the last sentence of that quote again.

  2. jeri says:

    I was taking one 300mg capsule of Vitacost Rasberry Ketones each day for 2 mos. just went to Dr. and had blood work done and found out my kidney function dropped dramatically. only thing I changed since last blood work was taking the Rasberry Ketones. The doctor advised me to stop it and come in to have my blood work done in a month to see if it went back up. anyone else have this happen to them?

    • Jason says:

      That was not the cause of your kidney decline. It makes no sense. 300mg of what part were ketone bodies and which were actually going to enter your bloodstream? And from there what % made it through your kidneys? When it ketosis your body makes an immeasurable amount more ketones than 300mg. ketones are the byproduct of breaking down fat for an energy source and 300mg is only 30% of one gram and one gram of fat is roughly 9 kcal… i believe one gram of ketone is around 5 calories as the fat loses some of its energy potential when the body breaks it down into ketone bodies and no study has linked them to kidney damage that i am aware of.

  3. Denise says:

    OMG! This is amazing. I leak protein. I’m having a hell of a time losing weight… I am going to try this as much as they say avoid high protein.. my leakage is not high and has been dropping over the years… I will be blown away if I can totally reverse my leakage before my next tests. I am going to be the human lab rat. Is further research being done on this???

    Yes, there is:



  4. The Patriot says:

    oh dear – we have the real incentive in the last highlighted sentence – “….We just want to figure out how the diet works so that we can replicate the effects of the diet in a drug”
    so a drug company can try and make millions from selling a (no doubt) damaging product to help weight loss and reverse kidney disease….yet again, we see profits before commonsense.
    THere just isnt profit in telling people to try a ketogenic diet so every one with vested interests cans the diet.
    I like being on the ketogenic diet….might live a bit longer too:)

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