I Am Focused on Ending My PKD With Diet and Fasting

This is my story and I am not advocating any type of diet or advice, just sharing what I’ve found and read on this subject.

I didn’t want it, had never heard of it, and discovered I had it out of the blue at the age of 55. Cysts on my kidneys – lots of them. I can still remember the awe on the doctor’s face when he told me of all those cysts.

No wonder I had so much trouble trying to lose weight. It was not necessarily fat, but cysts that were crowding my insides.

I liken it to little (and big) water balloons bouncing along inside my gut day and night. They don’t pop or ever go away, they grow. And more of them show up as they please to add to the weight and expansion of my belly. They hurt too. My lower back aches most of the time. I wake up in the morning feeling full and heavy. It’s miserable. But for those who have PKD, you know this, because you feel the same. We have consistently been told that there is no cure – yet, and therefore no hope for relief.

My New Eating and Fasting Plan

Now there is hope folks! I was so excited to begin my new diet and fasting plan. I wish I could have found more information, but I think I get the gist of it. Eat for a short period of the day. All the food and drinks (other than water) will be taken between 11:00am and 5:00- 6:00PM – for me, my plan. That is the timeline I have decided upon. After my time limit, I will be fasting and drinking only water, black coffee, or tea for the next 18 hours.

If it’s good enough for mice, rats and cats, then I can try it. Coincidentally, I watched a show called “Fat Fiction” on HBO the other day. After that I watched a show about fasting. Then, I read that research shows that a combination of a variation of the Keto diet (eating to cause ketosis) combined with fasting, has shown a reversal of kidney cysts in test subjects (animals). That’s a big coincidence! I am amazed and excited to discover this hope!

The documentary, called “Fat Fiction” tells how good fats are necessary for health. I knew this. My Homeopathic doctor had mentioned this years ago. Do not buy low fat, or fat-free foods because sugar is added when fat is removed. Sugar is the culprit. Carbs turn into sugar and then our bodies burn that sugar, instead of burning the fat from our cells. This is how I understand it, and you can read about it for yourself. One explanation can be found at What is Ketosis.

PKD and Keto

The problem with eating a Keto diet when dealing with PKD, is that not all the food suggested is okay. Also, large amounts of sodium are not accounted for when cheese makes up the bulk of many foods – and Keto diet followers tend to eat bacon, which I avoid like the plague.

Also with kidney disease, potassium can be a problem, so food like avocados, which are big with Keto, might not be good for PKD sufferers. Then again, maybe I was getting the wrong info all along. When I look at the PKD website, there is no mention of this possible “cure”.

Fortunately, I’ve been changing my eating habits for the better over the past nine years and I think I can generally follow a low carb diet while eating enough to keep my kidneys from getting worse. I’m very used to checking labels for sodium, but checking carbs is new.

I’m going to try to stick closely to the Keto Diet guidelines for at least a little while. I’ll be careful not to load my kidneys with salt and lots of meat protein. Mainly I will eat the way I have been, with a check on the carbs as I go.

Carb Wake-up Call

Strikethroughs shows the food I ate that were not low-carb, but I had no idea. My morning fast (which began the night before): Coffee black, drank until 11AM. Then: Blender drink of carrot juice, unsweetened cranberry juice, kale, and strawberries. Baked a quiche containing eggs, Swiss cheese, spinach, broccoli and onion, in a pie crust. Ate a big piece of quiche, also toast (using up my homemade bread) with butter, almond butter and ground flax seeds. Drank a cup of goat’s milk.

Quiche with spinach and onion
Homemade quiche

Supper will be leftover zucchini boats which contain: ground beef, parmesan cheese, onions and of course zucchini, smothered in organic tomato sauce.

Noticed: I got tired after I ate my big quiche meal. Guess it could be due to the fact that spinach, eggs and cheese all contain tryptophan! Pie crust, toast and goat’s milk all contain carbs, so does that “healthy” juice I drank. I definitely did not go low-carb with this meal. In fact, when I looked, I was surprised to see that pie crust is FULL of carbs, with no benefit to me.

  • Goat’s milk – 11 grams in 1 cup milk
  • Pie crust – 12 grams carbs in one piece…!!!!! Yikes. Eat the middle but throw the crust away ;(
  • Carrot juice – 20 grams carbs in 8oz., and unsweetened cranberry juice has 18 grams of carbs in 8 oz. Keto says juice is bad for it’s carbs – yes, it’s true.

Total carbs listed above that I ate comes to 61 and that is without counting that little piece of toast. I can assume that gave me at least 10 grams of carbs. Now my total carbs for today come to over 71 grams, because I’m sure other foods had some carbs as well.

If I have a glass of wine later, and of course I will, that will also add a few carbs. Normal carb intake suggested on a regular diet is over 200, but the Keto diet suggests that number stay below 50 grams. I failed, but I will learn from my mistakes, and do better . Staying below 50 carbs is going to be tough.

Monday Morning Weigh In

I am now three weeks into my Keto / timed-eating (fasting) diet plan. Each Monday morning I will weigh myself and measure my waistline to track my progress. You don’t get to see my weight, but how many pounds I lose.

With PKD (polycystic kidney disease) the cysts are constantly growing and forming, which expands the waistline and gives us an overall feeling of being “full” all the time. At least that is how I’ve been feeling, until I began to make this change.

floor scale weight tape measure

As of today – after 3 weeks time – I have lost nine pounds total, and four pounds in the last week. My waistline has only shrunk about 1/2 inch.

My big goal is to see a decrease in my waist. I suspect that as the kidney cysts shrink my midsection will get smaller. I started this diet to help with my disease after reading Dr. Weimbs’ articles on diet, fasting and PKD.

I’m not one for getting on the scales, and haven’t for a long time. Weighing oneself is usually depressing, especially if the overall feeling is that weight is not coming off.

I Like the Fasting Part of This Plan

So far, my new meal planning is working out. The limited eating hours have been easy to follow. I found that it was tough to stop eating by 5:00PM, so I’ve moved that goal up to 6:00PM. Now, I fast longer in the morning to make up for later evening meals. When I wake up and start my day, I don’t eat anything, and drink only black coffee and water, until 11:00AM or Noon.

I can only fit two meals into this space of time, with maybe a small snack in between. Because of this I am eating less.

If I stop eating by 6:00PM, and don’t eat until noon the next day, I have fasted for 6 hours. If I do this every day of the week, I will have fasted 42 hours for the week.

The fasting part of this new eating regimen is quite easy for me.

And don’t fool yourself into believing that all those hours of not eating are really “fasting” hours. The body spends twelve hours dealing with the previous meal, and only after that are you truly “fasting”, or so I’ve read. Read about intermittent fasting at the DietDoctor site.

Changing the Food I Eat

I’m used to watching the amount of sodium in my food, and now I also have to look for carbs. Even some vegetables can contain lots of carbs. On a Keto diet, carbs for the day should not be more than 50 total. Some people go even lower.

I honestly don’t count carbs, just make myself aware if I eat anything high carb. Then I try to do better the rest of the day.

Some food that I ate and drank regularly are off my plate now. No more potatoes. Skip that occasional piece of toast with breakfast (but I found a good replacement bread for that), and don’t drink juice! I had already mostly given up pasta and rice and sandwiches, so that’s not tough for me.

But fruit, like bananas, remain part of my meal plan – occasionally. I could also do with a sweet potato now and then, and maybe oatmeal with an apple for breakfast.

Eating a big variety of good food is always a good idea, but now I am more aware of what all those carbs can do.

Me and PKD and Hope

Today I realized that Dr. Thomas Weimbs has discovered in his research on curing PKD that diet (ketosis) and fasting may be the answer. He published papers on the results of his experiments in Fall 2019.

In 2011 I had appendicitis, and while in the ER, a doctor told me I had lots of cysts on my kidneys. He asked me if anyone in my family had polycystic kidney disease. This is the first time I had ever heard of this disease, and the fact that I had this problem was news to me.

At the time I was more concerned with my current problem of appendicitis, so I pushed the kidney news to the back of my brain.

Eventually I discovered that I had high blood pressure, and that the kidneys regulated that. Since my kidneys were becoming saturated with cysts, what hope did I have of fixing my BP? I began taking Lisinopril. I also learned that my form of kidney disease was incurable. This was depressing to say the least.

The news explained why I’d never been able to achieve that “hourglass figure” many women long for. My waistline was always too big. Kidneys grow to huge sizes because of these cysts, which expands our mid-section. No amount of exercise or effort will help. I am destined to look pregnant for the rest of my life.

And if that isn’t bad enough, my kidneys could eventually fail. This means dialysis or even death. You can’t live without functioning kidneys.

I decided not to give up and began searching for more information about CKD and PKD. There was no hope out there. The PKD website raised money had sponsored “walks for the cure”. They have dietary guidelines and lots of info about how to deal with the disease, but offer no hope for actual help. So, for me, and millions of others I suspect, all we could do was wait for a pill to make us better. And of course we are supposed to go to a doctor and dietician and monitor ourselves for worsening.

But today while searching around once again for the food I should avoid, I came across this page with the title, “Reversing Polycystic Kidney Disease“. Reversing?? I gobbled up that page and my smile must have been a mile wide by the time I finished. I fell instantly in love with the two men who discovered this and offered me hope. And that hope for help did not come in the form of a pill, but in diet and fasting. Two things I could easily do.

Starting tomorrow.

Ways to Use That Overload of Cucumbers From the Garden

It is mid-June as I write this and I am beginning to get an overload of cucumbers from the garden. I am the only one in the household who eats them. Since I hate to be wasteful, I’ve begun using my cucumbers in places other than salads.

Please note: Not all food here is Keto friendly.  I wrote this page before I changed my diet.

Cucumbers in Smoothies

A few years back I bought an Oster personal blender. Because of my diagnosis of poly-cystic kidney disease, I began to create healthy smoothies full of fruit and vegetables.

This morning I picked 2 more cucumbers from the garden to add to the collection of 5 I had already sitting on my kitchen counter. Cucumbers can be very good for for patients with CKD (chronic kidney disease) and of course, for everyone else as well.

I chopped one whole cucumber for my smoothie. To that I added five frozen, organic strawberries, organic red grapes, and some unsweetened cranberry juice. Once I remembered that I had bananas to use, I added a small banana too.

Cucumber smoothie
Cucumber smoothie with fruit

For those with any type of kidney problem who have to watch their potassium levels, don’t add the banana.

Of course this is my made-up-on-the-spur-of-the-moment recipe, so change it up. Adding other greens along with the cuke would also work. Throw in some kale or spinach. That goes well with strawberries. Use orange juice or iced tea for the liquid. There are many options when it comes to creating a healthy smoothie.

Screen Shot 2018-06-23 at 11.04.34 AM
Ready to drink from my House Targaryen GOT glass

Easier still, add sliced cucumber to a glass of water. Throw in sliced apple, orange, lemon or lime if you have it. Most people should drink a lot of water every day and this may help you do so.

Cucumber Sandwiches

Although I try hard not to eat much bread, I love a cucumber sandwich. When slicing the cukes for a sandwich I leave the skin on. I only remove skin from store-bought cukes.

Add mayonnaise and a little pepper and yum… the perfect summer sandwich.

cucumber sandwiches
Crustless white bread cucumber sandwiches (photo: Pixabay)

Or choose a more healthy type “bread” by spreading hummus on a (gluten free, low sodium) tortilla and fill with chopped cucumber and other veggies. Roll it up and you have a tasty meal without the bread.

Cucumbers and Hummus Dip

Cucumbers are quite delicious all by themselves, but it’s more fun to dip them into a healthy dip. I love cukes and hummus. Again, if you have no health issues, eat what sounds good. Chic peas are the main ingredient in hummus and most brands offer additional varieties along with plain old hummus.

Hummus is a wonderful and healthy dip that goes with any vegetable. It provides fiber and protein and other nutrients.

bowl of hummus
Hummus

More Ideas For Using Fresh Garden Cucumbers

I can get tired of eating salad pretty quickly, but the trick is to change it up. Use a small amount of greens and add lots of cucumber, tomato, sliced onion and green pepper. I like to add walnuts and fruit to my salads too.

For a simple cucumber only salad, check out this recipe at Taste of Home.

I have a no-cook recipe link for making sweet bread and butter pickles.  Be aware that these pickles last only a couple of weeks before the slices get soggy.  Eat them quickly or they will have to be thrown away.  Still, it’s a good and easy recipe for an abundance of cukes.  Maybe give some away?

Also, cucumber slices can be used to play checkers. (Smile)