Celiac Disease and Your Kidneys

Over the years I have put a few articles in my newsletter about Kidney Stones, Berger’s Disease (IgA Nephropathy) and Celiac Disease; because I am affected by all three.  Some of our customers are going through the same issues, some have had kidney transplants, some are awaiting transplants and some are just experiencing Kidney Stones.  The following information was originally in a 2012 newsletter and a 2014 Newsletter. I have compiled them both into one article for the blog. As usual, I will use my own situation so you can relate to it. The bottom line here is for you to be aware.

For most of my life I battled bladder infections and surgery and constant kidney stones and kidney infections. If any of you have battled kidney stones and also have Celiac Disease; you will be glad to know that there is a reason why.  I was having stones way before being told I was Celiac and many years later I was told by doctors that there was absolutely no correlation between stones or Celiac Disease. Well, times have really changed.

A few years ago between November and December I was once again battling constant kidney stones. I decided to find a new Nephrologist and he really gave me an education after 3 weeks of constant stones and lab tests. He asked me what I was eating different in November and December of every year (when I always experienced the most stones). I had an ah-ha moment! Every year my mother in law would send us a big box of awesome mixed nuts from Michigan; I would eat some every night when I got home. No doctor ever had asked me what I was eating differently.

There is a strong correlation between Celiac Disease, Kidney Stones and Berger’s Disease. My new doctor even explained it to me in a way that I could actually understand it and he even drew pictures for me!  If you are gluten free and casein free like I am, the lack of calcium can also cause stones, I pass calcium and oxalate stones.  So , if you, your child, or a loved one suffers from stones, this is well worth reading and it is great just to be aware.  I will first discuss Kidney Stones and then I will discuss Berger’s Disease (IgA Nephropathy) as well.

So, for the newsletter, I decided to see if I could find what my Doctor told me in writing somewhere and I found it in several places. Below is an excerpt from one of the best write ups I have seen on kidney stones; by John Libonati at Gluten Free Works.

Kidney Stones
“In active celiac disease, the normal mechanism to get rid of oxalate (calcium binding with oxalate) is prevented by fat malabsorption. If too many fatty acids are present in the intestine, the calcium binds with them instead and is excreted as waste. The oxalate remains to be absorbed into the bloodstream by the colon where it is then excreted into the urine.  This process is called enteric hyperoxaluria. “Enteric” means intestinal. “Hyper” means high. “Oxaluria” means oxalate in the urine.  Calcium present in the urine binds with the oxalate to form crystals.

In enteric hyperoxaluria, the excess free fatty acids, from fat malabsorption, compete with oxalate for calcium binding, leading to an increased availability of oxalate for absorption (solubility theory). This oxalate is absorbed in the colon, which is made more permeable to unabsorbed bile salts and fatty acids (permeability theory).3

Oxalate that should have combined with calcium in the gut to be properly excreted in stool now shows up in the kidneys where it combines with calcium to be excreted in the urine.

Stones form when the amounts of oxalate and calcium are high, the urine is concentrated and the pH (acidity) is low, all of which allow the calcium and oxalate to precipitate out of the urine to remain in the kidney. To illustrate this problem of concentration, think of stirring sugar into a pitcher of lemonade…add too much sugar and it begins to fall to the bottom of the pitcher.

If nothing changes, stones remain in the kidneys to grow and block the passageways of urine excretion.”  80% of kidney stones are formed from calcium oxalate and this is the form most often found in celiac disease. Calcium oxalate is the combination of calcium and oxalate. Calcium is an important mineral that the body needs for structure and function. Oxalate is found in foods in the form of oxalic acid. Oxalic acid is an extremely strong acid found in many plant foods. 

The 8 foods that increase urinary oxalate excretion are:                                    rhubarb, spinach, strawberries, chocolate, wheat bran, nuts, beets, and tea.          (A Celiac should not be eating wheat anyway!)  However, following a low oxalate diet and gluten free diet is not enough for me, I also take medication to help me.

You will be amazed…. click on link for more info:    http://glutenfreeworks.com/blog/2010/11/17/kidney-stones-renal-calculus-causes-treatment-in-celiac-disease/

Berger’s Disease (IgA Nephropathy) and Celiac Disease

Have you been told your creatinine levels are very high in your urine, blood in your urine, high protein in your urine? You should get checked.  I have battled this for the past 5 years or so and I take 2 medications to help me and I follow a low sodium diet.  The Best information I have found is the following from the Mayo Clinic.

IgA nephropathy (nuh-FROP-uh-the) is a common kidney disease that occurs when an antibody called immunoglobulin A (IgA) lodges in your kidneys. This hampers your kidneys’ ability to filter waste, excess water and electrolytes from your blood. Over time, IgA nephropathy – also called Berger’s disease – can lead to blood and protein in your urine, high blood pressure, and swollen hands and feet.

IgA nephropathy usually progresses slowly over many years, and although some people eventually achieve complete remission, others develop end-stage kidney failure. No cure exists for IgA nephropathy, but certain medications can slow its course.  Keeping your blood pressure under control and reducing your cholesterol levels also may help keep IgA nephropathy in check. (My cholesterol is under 125!)

Conditions or factors that may be associated with the development of IgA nephropathy include:

  • Genes. IgA nephropathy is more common in some families and in certain ethnic groups, suggesting a genetic component to the disease.  (My grandfather died of Kidney Failure and he was not a diabetic.)
  • Cirrhosis, a condition in which scar tissue replaces normal tissue within the liver
  • Celiac disease, a digestive condition triggered by eating gluten, a protein found in most grains (I have this.)
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis, an itchy, blistering skin disease that stems from gluten intolerance  (I have this, DH is now recognized as the skin manifestation of Celiac Disease and is a symptom of CD.)
  • Infections, including HIV infection and bacterial infections

Link to the Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/iga-nephropathy/basics/symptoms/con-20034366

As usual, I hope you have found this information useful and as always take control of your health!

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