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.

109 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.

    • Raspberry ketones are not really ketones like you produce in a ketogenic diet. Look it up.

  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:)

  5. Linda MacIntyre says:

    My labs have always been good. Then I got a message on Facebook from one of my friends from church. She said she was on raspberry ketone aND had list 50 pounds fast and never felt better. She included a link to purchase the raspberry ketone and like a fool I ordered them and took them for a month. I did not lose weight. I knew I was in trouble when I saw the friend at church and asked her how her weight loss was going. She didn’t know what I was talking about. She said she has never weighed more. She said her Facebook account was hacked and those people were using her account to spam. I was sickness. Shortly after I went and had routine labwork. My doctor said my kidney function has dclined. In fact he was so concerned that he wanted to send me to a nephrologist. And said he WA need to try to avoid having me on dialysis in the future! Subsequent labs so my kidney function is still dclined. It has not improved but has stayed exactly the same since I got off the raspberry ketones. Other people are complaining of the same thing happening to their kidney function. There have never been any testing to see what the possible side effects are to taking raspberry ketones. PLEASE DO NOT EVER CONSIDER TAKING THEM! Learn from my painful mistake. This is not revetsible. And you will have the lower back pain associated with it the rest of your life! THE MAKERS OF RASPBERRY KETONES NEED TO BE STOPPED! To the naysayers …don’t argue with me. Take it yourself for a month. Just one month and then get a kidney function test done.

    • Sue says:

      I know nothing about the raspberry ketones effect on kidneys. However, I wonder if the product you were taking was of good quality. The damage to your kidneys may have been caused by a contaminant, not the raspberry ketone itself. I also want to mention that sometimes kidneys are damaged by a combination of two or more products, when each product by itself may be harmless. This happened to me when I took Aleve at the same time I was taking Aldactone ( spironolactone). I took the two together for only 3 weeks and destroyed by kidneys. No one ever warned me about this sort of thing, but it turns out that many, many drugs are dangerous for the kidneys, especially when taken with any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as Aleve (naproxin sodium or naprosin) or Tylenol, either OTC doses or prescribed. Bottom line is we all must become more aware of how delicate our kidneys are, learn how they work and how to protect them, and learn how to make our doctors check them and be more vigilant about reporting and explaining lab results. When your creatinine approaches the upper limit of “normal” you are already in trouble. At that point you can make a huge difference by changing diet and lifestyle. If you ignore the issue, or if your doctor fails to recognize the danger and inform you, you will continue damaging your kidneys to a point where any recovery of function is less likely.

  6. A ketogenic diet is NOT high protein. It’s high fat, moderate to low protein and low carb. Too much protein raises blood sugar, by the way.

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