Creatinine is a blood chemical created from creatine phosphate produced during muscle exertion. It is the waste that remains after the muscular system has received the energy it needs to function. The blood then carries the byproduct to the kidneys, where the renal system filters out the creatinine. Chronic kidney disease or severe renal damage can make this final process less efficient, resulting in high creatinine levels, which can be dangerous.
Doctors and medical professionals measure serum creatinine levels to determine kidney function and health. The level of this compound demonstrates the capabilities of muscle metabolism. If the kidneys are not filtrating creatine out of the bloodstream, the doctor can test the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and creatinine levels to determine the creatinine clearance (CrCL). Creatinine clearance is a diagnostic comparison to the glomerular filtration rate. Doctors use these levels to evaluate kidney health. High levels of waste products can cause uremia, a medical condition that can be fatal. Patients with chronic and severe renal disease generally receive dialysis to expel waste product from the blood when the kidneys cannot.
Protein is the source of creatinine. Cooked red meat has high levels of the substance because the heating process turns creatine into creatinine; this can temporarily raise blood levels of the waste product. Cows spend most of their days standing and grazing. Doing so, they use up energy and go through the natural process of expelling creatinine. Any remaining after the animal has been slaughtered will be in the meat. Dairy products also contain some creatinine. Doctors may recommend that people with high levels of creatinine to avoid animal products.
Because creatine is produced by muscle metabolism, one way to lower high levels is to reduce how much cardiovascular and strength training exercise one does. Workouts like hot yoga can burn calories and challenge the body without overworking the muscles like some weightlifting routines. Walking more or taking more rest days between strenuous workouts may also help.
Many professional athletes, training amateurs, and people pursuing weight loss use protein supplements that build muscle and reduce fat. Creatine is present in many of these meal replacements and could increase the amount of chemical waste in the blood.
The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition conducted a study that found patients with chronic kidney disease see significant decreases in creatinine levels when they increase their intake of dietary fiber, a necessary component of digestive health. Veggies such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, and peas can contribute more fiber to the diet. Lentils and beans supply non-animal protein that may be lost in cutting back on meat.
Dehydration is highly taxing on the human body, which is 60% water. It stops the necessary systems from filtering out waste products. Eventually, the body will shut down due to a lack of water. One process that slows when a person does not drink enough fluids is urination. Because creatinine is expelled from the body through urine, staying hydrated can help lower creatinine levels.
Cinnamon can lower blood urea nitrogen and creatinine levels, according to some scientific studies. Other supplements with potential benefits include chitosan and salvia (salvia miltiorrhiza). However, more research is needed to confirm these benefits. In addition, these supplements may interfere with prescription drugs. Therefore, individuals should consult a kidney specialist and a dietician before making any significant dietary changes or herbal supplement additions.
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