These days it’s all about who you know right?  So if we applied that same mindset to rating and ranking our organs then the kidneys would’ve amassed the largest number of followers, ‘top fan badges’, likes, watches, you name it.  The kidneys are nothing if not ‘connected’ – with reciprocal relationships with our vascular, neurological & respiratory systems, liver, haematopoietic tissue and…🥁

We’re forever in debt to the 1960s ✌
The decade that brought us all peace love and mung beans but more importantly (!) an awareness about the connection between our gut and our kidneys.

Their union becoming more ‘official’ when someone first applied the term, ‘Gut-Kidney Axis’, in research around 2010 and ever since attracting the attention of researchers, nephrologists and now naturopaths alike! These two organs are involved in significant ‘job-sharing’ which typically works well for us, ensuring our survival (generally a feature of a good day at the office in my opinion!) through their combined efforts of noxious waste removal. This is especially when they both ‘bring their A game’.  Many of us know that in severe renal impairment the negative ripple effects on gut function are substantial but how often are we thinking about it the other way around.  How does the gut dysfunction or disease in a patient actually drive renal impairment? Let me count the ways!!

There’s a rapidly growing body of evidence attesting to the causative, or at least contributory role, things such as coeliac & inflammatory bowel diseases, abnormally increased intestinal permeability, dysbiosis and even periodontal disease can play in causing kidney conditions, and more generally, chronic kidney disease (CKD). 

This places our food preferences, our bugs, their biome, by-products and our barrier integrity all at the forefront of the gut’s ‘good guy’ status when it comes to kidney care. This is important to know, not only for the purpose of understanding why someone with ‘no traditional CKD risks’ presents with CKD but also to arm us with solutions and opportunities for course correction when they do.  I started this conversation in last month’s Update in Under 30 episode: CKD- Causes Catalyst & Contributors, talking about our urgent need to ‘broaden the lens’ when working up cases of CKD but in the latest episode I’ve taken a very targeted look just at the role of gut dysfunction and disease – including a very intentional discussion of IgA nephropathy (a strong link between the two) that is grossly over-represented in Australia and NZ and therefore a ‘must know’ for us all 🤓

When GIT Dysfunction Drives Kidney Dx

The gut is a ‘good guy’ when it comes to supporting renal function for the majority of us via a balance of bugs, their beneficial by-products and an intact barrier. Additionally, there is direct job-sharing with respect to elimination of wastes. However, if the gut ‘goes down’ due to disease or even, on occasion, just dysfunction, this can then add substantially to the vulnerability, burden and risk of renal decline. The gut-kidney axis offers many advantages including a key point of indirect access for treatment of renal impairment when this bidirectionality goes ‘bad’.  In particular we take note of IgA nephropathy – a prevalent and under-recognised cause of intrinsic renal disease that is a potent illustration of this.

You can purchase When GIT Dysfunction Drives Kidney Disease here. If you are an Update in Under 30 Subscriber, you will find it waiting for you in your online account. You can become an Update in Under 30 Subscriber to access this episode and the entire library of Update in Under 30 audios and resources here.