Baking Soda, Body Fat and Blood Tests: Research from the APS/ASN Renal Conference

If you don’t know what “renal” means, you’re probably not alone. The main organs of the renal system—sometimes thought of as our personal plumbing system—are the kidneys and bladder. The renal system gets rid of waste through urine and helps regulate blood pressure.

Current research shows that renal health relies on many other body systems doing their jobs well. This week, top renal researchers gathered in Charlottesville, Va., to discuss news in kidney research including recent insights in renal function and promising new treatments and diagnostic tools for kidney disease. Read on to learn more.

baking soda

Credit: iStock

Like most households, you probably have a box of baking soda in your kitchen. This common staple helps baked goods rise, deodorizes the refrigerator and acts as a natural toothpaste among other household uses. But it turns out that baking soda may be good for your health, too. New research from the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University finds that drinking a water and baking soda beverage boosted the immune system of rats with diabetes. These findings could be important for people with type 2 diabetes who often have chronic inflammation.

Female bare feet with weight scale

Credit: iStock

Body mass index (BMI) measures body fat based on height and weight, with higher numbers indicating more body fat—and often a higher risk of obesity-related conditions such as kidney disease. But some people in developing countries like India have more body fat and less muscle than their BMI—and appearance—indicates. This unusual situation, called “lean fat,” means that a common technique for measuring kidney health based on a person’s weight doesn’t accurately represent the true kidney function of Indian patients. A research team from BARC Hospital in Mumbai, India finds that it’s more accurate to take body composition into account instead of weight when measuring the kidney function of lean fat patients.

Blood Sampling Tubes

Credit: iStock

Kidney disease is a common diabetes complication, but the condition often can’t be diagnosed without having a kidney biopsy. Researchers from Nanfang Hospital of Southern Medical University in China and the University of Pittsburgh want to change that. They studied the blood of people with diabetes—some had early-stage diabetes-related kidney disease, some were in later stages of the disease and others had no kidney disease at all. All of the volunteers had some of the same small particles in the blood called metabolites, but the levels were different based on whether or not they had kidney disease. The results of this study could mean surgery won’t be needed anymore to diagnose diabetes-related kidney disease.

Researchers also discussed

Read more highlights from the American Physiological Society/American Society of Nephrology’s  Control of Renal Function in Health and Disease Conference on the APS website.

Erica Roth 

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