Innovative Medicine Blog

Is a High Protein Diet Unhealthy for Your Kidneys?

Is a High Protein Diet Unhealthy for Your Kidneys?

Healthy kidneys can efficiently process protein. However, over-consuming protein can add unnecessary strain on these organs. If you have risk factors for kidney disease, or have an undetected problem, the strain created by consuming too much protein could result in a serious acute or chronic kidney disorder.

Credit: jcomp/

What do the kidneys do with dietary protein?
Protein, along with fat and carbohydrate, is a macronutrient necessary for health. Protein is required for the growth and repair of tissues (muscles, organs), fluid balance, wound healing, and numerous other physiological processes. For Americans, the primary sources of dietary protein are animal (chicken and beef), followed by plant (yeast, bread products) and dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt). The kidneys filter out protein metabolites (tiny molecules) created when the body digests and metabolizes protein for assimilation. Many scientists agree that filtering out excess protein makes the kidneys work harder.

How much protein do I really need?
Making decisive statements about dietary protein intake and kidney health is a challenge for a few reasons:

Lack of Definitive Recommendations for Protein Intake. Unlike other nutrients that have established recommended minimum and/or maximum intake standards for good health, protein does not currently have Adequate Intake nor a Tolerable Upper Intake Level for the general population. Instead, there is an Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range: Protein should make up 10-35% of energy intake for adults age 19 and above. In that large group, there are widely varying health and lifestyle factors. Who should be at the upper limit? Who should be at the lower limit? How does intense physical training affect protein needs? The basic guideline is that adults need 0.8 – 0.85 g protein per kilogram of body weight (example: 150 lb person x .8g = 120g protein daily).

Limited Studies. With the popularity of high-protein diets, more research is needed to understand the stress a high protein diet places on kidney function in healthy people. The few studies that do exist are very small or focus on athletes with high fitness levels. Also, these studies are short-term when we know that changes in organ function due to dietary habits occur over time.

Kidney Disease and Protein Intake
If you have risk factors for or have a known kidney problem, The Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative Nutrition Guidelines recommend a low-protein diet (0.6 g protein/kg weight) for people who are not using dialysis. For people with chronic kidney disease, low protein intake (0.3–0.6 g/kg weight) has been shown to reduce renal death and delay the onset of dialysis.

Although there isn’t definitive research, eating less animal protein may decrease the stress placed on the kidneys. Also, consuming less animal protein is associated with many other positive health outcomes. It makes sense that this would extend to the health and function of the kidneys. To determine the best ratio of protein for your health goals and relative to any risk factors you may have for kidney disease, consult with Dr. Tan.


Depression in Men: Facing the Facts

Of the various mood disorders, depression is the most common, afflicting more than 20 million Americans from all ethnic groups, ages, and backgrounds each year. While ups and downs in mood are part of our daily experience, depression is different: it reflects a disturbance in mood and emotion over a period of time, interfering with a person’s outlook and ability to carry on with their usual lifestyle.

Both men and women experience depression, though women are more likely to report it and men are more likely to ignore it.

Credit: Patchamol/

Depression can include the following symptoms:

  • Uncontrolled anger or violent behavior
  • Increased use of alcohol / tobacco / reckless behavior
  • Changes in usual eating and sleeping habits
  • Increased complaints of headaches, physical pain or tension
  • Problems at work or school
  • Feeling unrelenting pressure, even when simple requests are made
  • Changes in how they think and feel about themselves and life
  • Changes in desire for social interaction, relationships, and sex

There isn’t a single cause of depression. Biological, psychological, and social factors all play a part, as do lifestyle choices, relationships, and coping skills. Depression can be triggered by situations that create feelings of helplessness, anger or stress, such as:

  • Overwhelming responsibilities at work, school, or with family
  • Not reaching important goals
  • Unanticipated changes in job or military status
  • Unrelenting financial problems
  • Chronic illness, injury, disability that alters lifestyle and independence
  • Death of a loved one
  • Retirement

Simple Healthy-Living Approaches
Depending on the situation and the severity of the depression, it’s extremely important to seek help from a professional. The following suggestions, however, can help you manage the symptoms of depression while working on the cause with your holistic health care provider.

Get Cuddly. Hugs, a gentle hand on the back, and other non-sexual touch reduces stress, heart rate and blood pressure. It also increases the “affection hormone,” oxytocin, which plays a role in our desire for social and romantic bonding. Platonic touch is necessary for emotional wellbeing for men and women.

Socialize In Person. Stepping away from online social networks for an in-person meet-up can boost your emotional wellness. People who maintain social ties – over a cup of coffee, lunch, dinner, or a game of tennis – live longer, have lower risk for depression and other health problems, and report having happier lives despite the usual ups and downs.

Eat Well. The production and levels of brain chemical (neurotransmitters) are influenced by the quality of the food you eat. Whole foods provide richer sources of the vitamins and minerals that are important to brain chemistry and overall health. Nutrition supplements can support a healthy mood, including the B vitamins, certain herbs, and fish oil.

Walk a Dog. Walking is great exercise for mind and body. When you’re out with a dog, it’s an easy way to meet people and get a boost of Vitamin D. Plus, the company of dogs can help ease stress and depression. Don’t have your own dog? Volunteer to walk dogs for animal rescue groups. Don’t like dogs? OK, then just get out there and take a stroll!


The Secrets to Bouncing Back from Adversity

When tough times bring you down, your ability to cope in a positive way is known as resilience. An essential skill for healthy development in childhood, resilience is critical to wellbeing throughout our lifetime. The overriding question is this: as adults can we increase our capacity for resilience in order to lead more fulfilling lives?


Image credit: World Image/

The answer is YES. Resilience is not a superpower; it’s an ordinary skill that anyone can develop at any age. Think of it as an emotional muscle that can be strengthened. Research shows that resilience is linked to wellbeing by way of positive emotions and coping strategies (e.g., optimism, cheerfulness, gratitude, mindfulness). Benefits include:


  • a healthier immune system
  • lower risk of chronic disease
  • faster recovery from illness/ surgery
  • improved stress management
  • less depression & anxiety

Six Secrets to Pumping Up Your Resilience:

Catch It Early. One trait of highly resilient individuals is a keen awareness for when things aren’t going right. We’ve all heard doctors say “good thing we caught it early,” and that applies to stress: Identify stress early in the process and you can be proactive in managing how it (and your emotions) affect you and your health.

Stay in the Light. Optimism is the ability to look at a dire situation and assess its meaning for your life. If a significant relationship has ended, there will be grief, confusion, anger and so on. There’s also an opportunity to re-examine your needs and explore what truly makes you happy. Amid dark times, you can mentally stay in the light by using positive affirmation, hanging-out with supportive people, and monitoring what you watch and read on a regular basis.

Look at What’s Next. We all tend to blame ourselves for setbacks, worrying about what could have been done/not done differently. To bolster resilience, remind yourself that even if you made a mistake, many factors likely contributed to the problem. Focus on next steps and see how the vibe of that situation changes from desperation to opportunity.

Recall Your Victories. We’ve all had shining moments of glory – whether at work, in sports, or potty-training a child. When you remind yourself of the challenges you have overcome, you give yourself a shot of resilience.

Manage Daily Hassles. Whether sitting in traffic or waiting in an unexpected long line when you’re in a hurry, use those moments to practice coping skills (deep breathing, for example). Those mindful-skills will come more naturally to you when a crisis hits and you’ll have made a big deposit in your resilience bank.

Break Routine. Routines feel comfortable and are necessary – to a point – but rigidity breeds stress. A sense of adventure, even a simple but challenging activity, helps build resilience by enhancing skills that prepare you to handle stress. So, instead of the 1-mile fun run, enter the 5k; pass on the beach vacation and plan a guided backpacking trip; ditch date-night at the movies and go to the Escape Room or take a class (e.g. cooking or scuba).


Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is a great choice for incorporating a tasty, meatless meal into your weekly menu. Although it has a mild nutty flavor on its own, when you combine spaghetti squash with sautéed onions, olives, feta, and juicy tomatoes, it absorbs those flavors, resulting in a Mediterranean dish everyone will enjoy. This recipe makes a hearty, lunch or dinner. If going meatless isn’t your preference, pair this dish with fish or chicken.

Serves 4


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1 3-4 pound spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups halved grape tomatoes
3/4 cup crumbled organic feta cheese
1/2 cup sliced organic black olives
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
Place spaghetti squash on the baking sheet, cut sides down. Bake until you can poke a sharp knife into the squash with little resistance, about 35-45 minutes. Remove squash from oven; set aside to cool.
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion in oil until tender. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes and cook briefly, about 1 minute. You only want to warm the tomatoes.
Use a large fork to shred the “spaghetti” from the squash and place the strands in a large bowl. Toss with the sautéed vegetables, feta cheese, olives, and basil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

Recipe Source: Garnish with Lemon.

Health insurance coverage for Naturopathic care

With the Affordable Care Act, your health insurance plan may possibly reimburse you for a portion of your office visit.  You will need to check directly with your health insurance carrier on what portion may be reimbursed to you.  As we are non participating providers, we will provide you with a receipt that includes the diagnostic coding required when submitting for reimbursement.

Please call your health insurance carrier for more information on how to submit your claims.  Akamai Advantage, Quest, grandfathered or transitional plans  are not included.

At this time,  acupuncture,  prolotherapy , PRP or allergy treatments are not included in the benefits.

However, some plans have Acupuncture riders such as HMAA, UHA. We participate in some of these riders. These riders cover a portion of our office visit fees.  Patients are still responsible for the balance not covered by their Acupuncture rider as well as the copay.

Stiff neck

Unfortunately i started the new year with a very painful stiff neck.

It started on the right side and moved to the left. I could hardly hold my head up. Thanks to Dr Tan and her magical treatments the pain was gone in three sessions and I had full range of motion!

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Varicose Veins, Low Back & Neck Pain

I came to lovely Honolulu to see my sister and she recommended me to see Dr Karen Tan.

Varicose Veins

I have had my large and small veins in my legs giving me trouble for 6 years- lots of swelling and pressure going on. Then my lower back has been giving me trouble for about 15 years. My neck has been bothering me for about 6 years. After one treatment, I felt about 90% better. The second treatment was even better. It feels so good to be pain free. I’m trying to decide whether I should stay or take the doctor home with me!

Pam Hanson, International Falls, Minnesota


Dr Tan is a miracle worker!

I first went to see her after being told by medical doctors that I would never have a child.  They said there was nothing medical science could do to help my husband and I conceive.  I wasn’t a candidate for IVF or infertility medications.  I heard about Dr Tan from a co-worker and decided to see if she could help me.  She put me on a comprehensive program and  I got pregnant 2 months after I started on her program.   My pregnancy was healthy and uneventful as was the birth of my daughter.  Thanks to Dr Tan, I now have a healthy baby.

Monica Sheehy, Kaneohe, HI

Center for Innovative Medicine Honolulu

Center for Innovative Medicine Honolulu