As with atherosclerosis, any deficiency that prevents lecithin production appears to cause kidney disease. Nephritis has been produced in almost every type of animal, including insects, by diets deficient in essential fatty acids. Cholesterol and fats are deposited in kidney tissues; the coils of capillaries break down, blood and albumin are lost in the urine, dropsy develops, large areas of tissue are destroyed, and the tubules often become calcified.
Animals lacking magnesium also develop nephritis and show the same degenerative changes, made worse after the kidney has once been damaged, because this mineral is more readily lost in the urine. When the diet is only slightly deficient in magnesium, the kidneys become tremendously swollen, and 25 times more calcium than normal may be deposited in the kidney tissues. This condition becomes much more severe if phosphorus is high and calcium low.
When both vitamin B6 and magnesium are undersupplied, the kidneys are further damaged by sharp crystals of oxalic acid combined with calcium, and as much as three-quarters of the kidney may be replaced by scar tissue. Children with oxalic-acid kidney stones frequently have high blood pressure and kidneys so damaged that they become progressively worse, causing death from kidney failure early in life.
The typical American high-phosphorus, low-calcium diet, given to animals, causes kidney tissues to become calcified, though such calcification is prevented when the amount of dietary calcium is doubled.
Influence of Other Vitamins
Since the tiny kidney tubules are lined with mucous membrane if too little vitamin A is given, they soon become plugged with dead cells; less urine can be formed, excessive water held in the body causes the blood pressure to increase, and urea backs up into the blood; and vitamin A is rapidly lost from the liver and body tissues into the urine at the very time it is most needed. When patients with nephritis have been given 50,000 to 75,000 units of vitamin A daily, urea excretion has increased as much as go percent, showing that kidney function had markedly improved.
If vitamin E is deficient, nephritis occurs in which the tubules become so plugged with dead cells that urine cannot pass; and dropsy and progressive degeneration become marked. Should this deficiency be prolonged, even the large collecting tubules are completely destroyed, yet adding the vitamin corrects the condition. Vitamin E has largely prevented the calcification of the kidneys caused by excessive vitamin D and other toxic substances.
Dozens of physicians have reported the marked beneficial effects of giving vitamin E to persons with kidney diseases. When children with acute nephritis took 300 units of vitamin E daily, their dropsy promptly disappeared and blood and albumin were no longer lost in the urine. Adults with Bright’s disease showed similar improvement after taking 300 to 600 milligrams of the vitamin daily. Vitamin E helps cells survive by decreasing their need for oxygen; it prevents scarring, a severe problem in both kidney diseases and kidneys damaged by toxic chemicals; and at times it lowers high blood pressure associated with kidney disease, and increases the flow of urine.
The Effect of Stress
Bright’s disease has been produced in animals by giving salt and the adrenal hormone DOC a situation comparable to that of humans eating well-salted foods while under stress but unable to produce sufficient cortisone. These animals develop high blood pressure, dropsy, enlarged hearts, narrowed, rigid-walled blood vessels, albumin in the urine, and extensive degeneration and scarring of the kidney. If cortisone is given or the body is allowed to produce cortisone normally, no kidney damage occurs.
Nephritis frequently develops after such stresses as severe infections, particularly strep throat, poisoning from lead or bichloride of mercury, and the taking of toxic drugs. Even healthy soldiers submitted to the stresses of extreme cold, running, long hikes or diets low in protein or fat showed kidney damage to the extent that albumin and blood were temporarily lost in their urine. Because cortisone, given for nephritis, has been “strikingly beneficial,” every effort must be made to stimulate natural cortisone production the minute the disease is diagnosed.
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