Go with the Flow: Water and Kidney Health

In real estate, it's location, location, location. On the "Highway to Health," it's hydration, hydration, hydration! What began in May as a discussion with H2H regular Nicole Dreiske about the importance of hydration and quality water, turned into something of a four part series that included kidney health. (And inspired me to get the World's Most Ridiculous Water Bottle, but more on that later.)


We'll start at the top. Nicole's first segment on hydration was May 26th. Were you shocked to learn that you need water to function? I hope not. But you might've been slightly more shocked to find out that most Americans are chronically dehydrated.


This got us thinking about our kidneys. The CDC estimates that 15% of US adults have chronic kidney disease (think any of them are dehydrated?) and that 9 out of 10 of them don't even know they have it. Now we're moving into truly shocking territory. And we lucked out to have University of North Carolina's Dr. Emily Chang as the nephrologist to guide us through it on June 9th. Big thanks to the American Society of Nephrology for introducing us to Dr. Chang!

Here are the big takeaways in this segment:

  • 2:15--Not just pee! The kidneys are responsible for everything from blood filtration and blood pressure regulation to bone health and red blood cell creation.

  • 3:56--Kidney scars?! That's a thing, and that's how you get in to real trouble.

  • 5:15--High blood pressure and kidney disease are a vicious cycle. Dr. Chang's brilliant garden hose analogy is one of the best visual descriptions I've heard on the program!

  • 6:43--The only thing that causes kidney disease more than high blood pressure is diabetes! And diabetes can do damage in a number of ways.

  • 11:34--The American Society of Nephrology is pretty cool!

  • 12:54--The same damage that happens with heart disease is happening in your kidneys!

  • 14:55--High blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease are top risk factors...but wait, there's more!

  • 15:55--Is it time to see a doctor, or get a screening?

  • 17:33--What you drink matters. Dr. Chang breaks down water, coffee, and soda.

  • 18:40--How salt intake and dietary choices either support kidney health--or not.

  • 19:15--Are your prescription or over the counter drugs contributing to kidney problems? What about supplements?


When Nicole Dreiske returned to wrap up our hydration discussion on June 23rd, we thought we'd spend 15-30 minutes there, and move on to our next topic. That...did not happen. What did happen was a fascinating deep dive into water filtration, minerals, reverse osmosis, alkaline water, and some interesting input from our listeners. Hey, you gotta go with the flow. I have a feeling everything we covered was still only a drop in the bucket. It was a steady stream of...ok, I'll stop.


Some highlights from this one:

  • 2:55--Is all bottled water pure? No!

  • 4:15--What's in Your Tap Water: The Good, the Bad, and the Filtration (Tip--Check this link for your local water report!)

  • 11:37--Reverse Osmosis

  • 13:15--Could alkaline water reduce inflammation and hydrate better? Plus, that time Clare Marie learned what pH stood for.

  • 23:15--When should you hydrate? BEFORE you sweat! Wise words from a listener.

  • 25:18--Driver tips on bottled water.

  • 27:55--Bottled water expires! Don't leave it in the heat--or extreme cold.

  • 29:30--A listener's experience with aquatic filtration and mineral supplements.

  • 32:33--Is cold water refreshing...or harmful? Why Nicole drinks it hot.


And that takes us to Dr. Emily Chang again! She came back June 30 to dig into kidney stones. This is one segment you won't want to...pass on.

Here's a breakdown:

  • 2:20--An introduction to kidney stones...and gravel?!

  • 4:15--Are you at risk?

  • 10:10--Signs and symptoms

  • 13:55--But what if there are no symptoms?

  • 15:20--Urologist or nephrologist? Both!

  • 16:02--Repeat offenders? Once you have stones, you're more likely to get them again. :(

  • 17:15--What if it feels like a kidney stone, but isn't? Always get checked out.

  • 18:46--Final words on prevention and treatment


Thanks for being the most valuable part of RadioNemo--our listeners! Tune in to "Highway to Health" Tuesdays at 8am ET on The Dave Nemo Show (SiriusXM 146).

And now...a personal note about hydration: I drink three things. Plant-based milk, occasional alcohol, and about 100 ounces of water a day. A few years ago, Dave Nemo introduced me to those stainless steel bottles that are insulated to keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. No plastic? No spills? I was hooked. I had a large, insulated water bottle with an amazing leak proof straw lid. It was beautiful and iridescent. The kind of water bottle a unicorn would have. I know it sounds silly, but I really, really loved this thing.


So I have no idea how I could've lost it. But I did.


All of this "Highway to Health" hydration talk, long hours working at my desk (picnic table) in my outdoor office (backyard) during this unusual time (pandemic) inspired me to finally replace it. They didn't have the iridescent ones anymore, so I decided I might as well get a bigger one so I wouldn't have to fill it as much. Because guys, I hate standing there, filling a bottle. I usually get distracted, and only remember that I'm standing there filling a water bottle when the bottle overflows all over my feet and the floor (ADD).


Here was my reasoning. My old one must've been like...40 oz? Jimmy Mac has this ridiculously large bottle, so that must be the 64 oz size. I could get that size on Amazon, or there's an even bigger one on eBay for cheaper. They say you should drink half your weight in water a day (67 oz), but I also sweat a lot, so yeah, 84 oz seems perfect.


I...did not understand what I was getting. (And I was off about the size of my last bottle, and Jimmy Mac's bottle--they were actually 32 and 40 oz, respectively.)


I should add that this was not an impulse purchase. I spent 3 days obsessing over which color to get, texting photos to friends and taking votes. (It was a three way tie, so I went with the one Jimmy Mac picked.)


This thing arrives and I just stare at it. It's ludicrous and I hate it with every part of my body. I want to return it and the thought crosses my mind that "it will be great in a hurricane." Jimmy Mac thinks it's "outstanding" and "groovy" and offers to trade with me. But I name it Big Blue and give it a try, literally only for comedy purposes. It takes about 20 minutes to fill. I think I pulled a muscle in my arm picking it up to drink.


OK, those last two sentences are exaggerations, but this one is not, and I have proof: It weighs 7 pounds when it's full.


I started texting photos of Big Blue to all my friends, and here are some of the responses:


(Yes, some of them confused me, too.)


But you know what? It grew on me. I can't imagine my days without it, and I carry it around the house like Linus and his blue blanket. And, I really cannot ever imagine misplacing it. I drink at least 1.5 of these a day. On the days I don't feel like washing it and drink from a glass instead, Dr. Chang's prophecy comes true--I don't drink enough because I sit all day and don't have a big bottle of water next to me.


What's the moral here...sometimes you find love where you least expect it? Be careful on eBay? Do we need a moral? Well, if so, I guess it's hydration, hydration, hydration. ;)

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