Creatinine & Paleo : Paleo's Effect on the Kidney

by (1648) Updated November 14, 2012 at 7:04 PM Created June 23, 2010 at 3:13 AM

So: studying my blood test results (see another thread I started recently with another question based on the data! Dang you guys know a lot about me!), I found that my creatinine levels are at exactly the very max of the healthy range male, 1.2 mg/l.

Worried that they're at exactly the max, I started researching it and two different facts seem like they are true, if I am interpreting the Interwebs correctly:

First, one significant cause of high creatinine levels is a high meat diet (paleo!)

Second, high creatinine levels are a significant marker of kidney disease/failure.

So (Socrates was a man; all men are mortal; therefore...) -- it seems like both of those statements are true and, if so, I'm wondering what the causal relationship between these is: does eating a lot of meat likely lead to kidney problems (which then causes the creatinine levels to rise)?

Biology was never my forte so I'm likely misinterpreting something or missing vital information--does anyone have any clues?

Bueller, anyone, anyone? Thank you!!! morgan

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8 Replies

311 · June 24, 2010 at 2:27 AM

To one of the commenters here: Creatine is not the same thing as creatinine. Creatine is a compound of three amino acids used in bodybuilding.


Creatinine is a breakdown product of creatine.


But you're going to have that breakdown product no matter what, since your body makes its own creatine whether you take it as a supplement or not.

To the original poster: There is no good evidence that protein intake leads to kidney failure at all. Eating excess protein can be hard on kidneys which are already failing, however.

And BUN-to-creatinine ratio is a more accurate indicator of kidney function than creatinine by itself, apparently.

1650 · June 23, 2010 at 11:41 PM

I work in cardiac surgery (though not a medical professional), and manage a database where we have to put in risk indicators, one of which is creatinine value. 2.0 is considered renal failure (per my database's definition).

From my experience, 1.2 is fine. The norm of what I see is 0.9 - 1.1, 1.2 certainly wouldn't spark any concerns. If you were up to 1.5 or 1.6 you would need help. I would just say you should keep an eye on it, see if there are any trends. 1.2 is nothing to worry about, in my opinion. Do you have past values, to see if your trending upward?

Also, are you on any medications? That would put stress on your kidneys and can cause higher creatinine values.

3652 · June 23, 2010 at 3:29 AM

Creatinine is also a marker of LEAN MUSCLE MASS.

It is genetically higher in those with higher lean mass e.g. African Americans and in fact an adjustment of ~20% more is built in for estimations of kidney function (eGFR per MDRD calculation).

Is this the only lab value you have? Did you imbibe enough fluids prior to the lab or this a dehydrated value, in which case it may be underestimating true kidney flow?

No, BUN indicates protein (nitrogen) turnover, not the serum creatinine.

It is controversial in the nephrology field but protein restriction does not really improve kidney function, and the vice versa, high protein intakes do not compromise renal function.

Serum Cr can be higher also in renoarteriosclerosis which is plaque in the narrow arteries going to the kidneys. With an anti-inflammatory paleo/evo diet, this has been observed to reverse to normal (I've seen it and it has occurred with Mr. Billy E from Cr 2.8 to now 2.4).


Hope that helps!

11363 · June 23, 2010 at 4:51 AM

@ Morgan, what you have here is a single normal (albeit high-normal) screening test value (serum creatinine). I would not be concerned at all at this point. Worsening kidney function is characterized by RISING creatinine and BUN (blood urea nitrogen) test values, so a trend would be important.

I would expect a paleo lifestyle to be beneficial overall to kidney function, because it improves/prevents risk factors for chronic renal failure such as blood sugar/diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and autoimmune diseases ( http://www.emedicinehealth.com/chronic_kidney_disease/page2_em.htm ). Fish oil supplements, used by many paleos, may be beneficial in some kidney conditions ( http://www.oilofpisces.com/kidneydisorders.html ). Also, vitamin D supplements may help to prevent heart disease and high blood pressure ( http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/researchHypertension.shtml ).

While it is not proven that a paleo diet with fish oil and vitamin D supplements will always prevent kidney problems, it almost certainly is better than a grain-laden, pro-inflammatory SAD.

0 · November 14, 2012 at 7:04 PM

creatinine and urea high. coud it be due to paleo diet?

63 · December 16, 2011 at 1:35 AM

1.)That is a normal serum creatinine. 2.) If you are living a fairly disciplined paleo life style your serum creatinine should go up. 3.) There is only onepractical way to accurately measure renal function; a 24 hour urine for creatinine clearance. 4.) No protien in your urine would also be reassuring.

Trust me,

I know.

0 · June 24, 2010 at 2:16 PM

your body also takes creatine from meat

77338 · June 23, 2010 at 3:43 AM

Do you have a week's worth of meals and fluid intake? It's hard to blame paleo if we don't know what that means for you. Also remember that the results you see are of "average" ranges. Talk to a naturopath or an MD who practices Integrative Medicine if you want to understand what the "optimal ranges" are. Those do take into consideration gender, age, race/ethnicity.

The average is truly a population average and may have no bearing on your propensity for disorders, disregulation, or disease.

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