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Older Adults on Dialysis Face Higher Risk for Dementia

Older kidney disease patients on dialysis have a higher risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s, according to a new study reported by Futurity. The findings support previous research that showed cognitive decline in older dialysis patients. While it’s not certain exactly what the biological mechanism for this is, Futurity noted that “kidney disease itself has been linked to poor blood flow in the brain.”

While dementia is one of the most feared afflictions of aging — perhaps second only to cancer — there are things you can do to improve kidney function and ultimately avoid dementia due to failing kidneys. Since poor kidney function is associated with diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, it’s important to understand how your kidneys function. Waste products removed by your kidneys and eliminated through your urine include urea and uric acid, produced from the breakdown of proteins and nucleic acids respectively.

To that end, excessive protein intake increases urea, and uric acid is a byproduct of both protein and fructose metabolism. Fructose typically increases uric acid within minutes of ingestion — and excessive fructose can have a dramatic and devastating impact on your uric acid levels. The problem is that most Americans consume three to five times more protein than they need, and two to four times (or more) fructose than is considered safe.

These two dietary factors, alone and especially in combination, place significant stress on your kidneys and promote kidney disease and kidney stones. Kidney stones are particularly linked to a diet high in processed fructose and other sugars. To protect your kidney function, keep the following three basic factors in mind:

  1. Restrict protein to just what your body needs. An ideal protein intake is likely around one-half gram of protein per pound of lean body mass, which for most is 40 to 70 grams a day. The American Kidney Fund recommends restricting protein to a maximum of 50 grams if you have kidney disease.
  2. Restrict fructose to 25 grams per day (about 6 teaspoons), or less (especially if you're insulin/leptin resistant)
  3. Drink pure, clean water. Simply swapping out sweetened beverages like sodas and fruit juices for pure water can go a long way toward improving your kidney function and overall health. The best way to gauge your water needs is to observe the color of your urine (it should be light pale yellow) and the frequency of your bathroom visits (ideally, this is around seven to eight times per day).
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