This week, Jill answers a listener question about Glucosamine and kidney stones.
Have a question? Leave us a voicemail at (773) 789-8763.
Stop Kidney Stones Once and For All
- Kidney Stone Prevention Course
- Kidney Stone Diet Meal Plans
- 24 Hour Urine Collection Analysis
- Private Coaching
Kidney Stone Diet Resources
Find more episodes of the Kidney Stone Diet Podcast here.
Who is Jill Harris?
Jill is a nurse and health coach that specializes in educating patients on kidney stone prevention. For more than 20 years she’s helped patients understand that kidney stones can be prevented with the right treatment plan. It’s one thing to be told to lower oxalate or drink more water, but HOW do you do it? That’s where she comes in. Through the educational resources at kidneystonediet.com, stone formers can learn everything they need to know to significantly lower new stone risk.
Who is Jeff Sarris?
Jeff’s co-founder of SPYR, a branding agency based out of Chicago, where he and his business partner Dave help awesome people like Jill create online platforms that make an impact. He’s also a certified health coach, Executive Producer of the Netflix documentary Minimalism, and host of the Starting Now podcast.
Love this episode? There’s more!
Jeff Sarris: Welcome back to the Kidney Stone Diet podcast, the show about reducing your kidney stone risk and living your best life. I’m your host and fellow student, Jeff Sarris.
Jill Harris: Hi, everybody! It’s Jill, your kidney stone prevention nurse.
Jeff Sarris: So, what does your shirt say today?
Jill Harris: Take it away.
Jeff Sarris: What’s your shirt say today? Oh, perfect. Have a nice day.
Jill Harris: Now I’m gonna tell you, people are like, “Oh, Jesus, we can’t even–why did he have to bring up her stupid shirt? Because now she’s gonna talk about this damn shirt.” Hold on. Now, I want to tell you something. So I have a friend, and she was given some clothes away, and she always has cute little shirts. I’m like, “Let me see.” So she had this one. I’m like, “okay.” And I took it. So, I have torn feelings about this. Of course, it’s nice, but, you know, I think about things a little bit too much sometimes. So it reminded me of like the grocery store bags.
“Have a nice day, have a nice day, have a nice day.” And it’s like we’re always telling people to have a nice day. I don’t know. Seems like a lot of pressure. I don’t know. I mean, my first instinct is “Oh, it’s so sweet.” But it’s also like, not every day is a nice day. So there you go. Even out of a t-shirt, I can make a little bit too much, you know, just a bit too much. But that’s what I was thinking as I put it on, but I went with “It’s sweet.” So I just went with it.
Jeff Sarris: Oh, yeah. With that, yeah. I liked it. Yeah, but you do make a good point. It is hard to–it’s difficult. And it should be an empty platitude, as well, because it’s said so much.
Jill Harris: Yeah, so, lately I’ve been changing it when I see people. I’m like, “Oh, I hope your day goes well.” I don’t know if it’s much different, but it’s a little spin on it. Like I hope your day goes well, because it might not but I’m hoping it does.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, definitely. So, now that we got the shirt under control, should we dive in? We’ll dive into the question. Today we have a question from Gina.
Jill Harris: Everybody take a drink of water!
Let’s Talk About Collagen
Listener Voicemail: Hi, everybody! My name is Gina and I am a repeat kidney stone producer. I have had surgery to remove the kidney stones and they just keep coming back. So I do watch the diet and all, but my question is–I’ve had to stop taking collagen because I’m a female in my 50s. I’m very active, still doing all these good things bike, swim, whatever. I’ve felt a little knee issue, so I started taking glucosamine and I think it could be causing kidney flare ups here, with the kidney stones again. So, my question is, what about glucosamine? Is that a problem for people that tend to produce kidney stones?
Jeff Sarris: So I’ll stop right there because she does leave her number.
Jill Harris: No, you don’t want to put her phone number out there. So, I know that glucosamine is something that a lot of older–and I’m older–people use for joint issues. I don’t know how well-documented it is, quite frankly, I don’t, but I do know people use it, stone-formers are not. And, you know, collagen is all the rage. There’s no good studies, people, and start researching yourself that shows collagen helps with hair and nails just so you know. There’s no good science that says that it does. So, there’s that.
Although there’s patients that will say, “Jill, my hair grew like a weed once I started taking the collagen!” I don’t know what to tell you. Collagen, we know she said she was on–did she say she was on a mix of it at some point or she was on collagen and then she got off of it?
Jeff Sarris: Let me just double check.
Jill Harris: Or am I making stuff up because this is what people ask me so much?
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, so she said she had to stop taking collagen because she’s a female in her 50s.
Jill Harris: Okay, so the collagen, we know, can convert over to oxalate. We ask people to stay away from collagen supplements. Honestly, please do that. The glucosamine, I don’t know of anything that will show an increase of kidney stones with this amino acid and I think it’s fine for kidney stones. That being said, I’m not using it, but I’m not saying you shouldn’t. I don’t think it has any increase of kidney stone risk. So not a problem. Collagen does. Sometimes the glucosamine and the collagen are put together, so if you’re taking that duo supplement, get rid of the collagen part and take your glucosamine.
Always Consider a Follow-Up Urine Collection!
Also I would say, if this was somebody that did not tell me what she did, she said she’s active. She’s watching her diet. I don’t know–I hear this a lot, “I’m watching my diet.” And then when you do a urine collection, you can see what you think you’re doing and what you’re really doing can be two totally different things. I’m telling this or saying this to Gina because she said she’s a repeat stone former. So it would be wonderful to see some urine collections on her to see really what her diet is. Again, most of my information, of course, it’s all based upon science on my mentor’s site. Anybody who does kidney stone risk is a researcher. The things I talk about are well-researched.
But all the other things I talk about, like how to change your lifestyle and habits, all this is from decades of talking to people. I want to be careful what I say here, so people don’t think I’m being judgmental because I get that sometimes. Often I hear when I’m going over a urine collection with people, “Jill, I watch my salt! I don’t use the salt shaker.” And when we look at their salt in their urine collection, it’s 5000 because they’re not realizing, although they’re watching their sodium, they’re not paying attention to portion size.
People will say “Jill, this product is low salt. It can’t be that.” Yeah, but you had six servings of that! It was six portions, not the one that’s low salt. Now, you had six portions and it’s high salt now. So it’s all kinds of things that we, human beings, all of us have done, that we think we’re doing one thing and it turns out we’re really not. And the thing about the urine test, urine don’t lie. So, what you eat and drink that day comes out in your urine that day, so we can see. And I cannot tell you countless, countless, thousands of thousands of people once they do the urine collection, it is so eye-opening for them and then they can really learn what does it mean to watch your sodium.
So, anyway, I don’t have a problem with the glucosamine. Collagen is not good. Dump it, people. Eat well! That can also help, you know, maybe hair loss to underlying conditions thyroid, Graves disease. There’s stuff going on, people, that can be the reason for the hair loss before you start taking pills or supplements, talk to your doctor. “Hey, doc! My nails, my my hair’s falling out-” Please get some bloodwork done. It could be an indication of something else was going on. But Gina’s interesting to me because she’s telling us that she does all the right thing. She said she’s very active as well.
I would love to see a urine collection on Gina because she’s making a lot of stones, so she says and that’s what makes me nervous. There’s something going on with her that a urine collection will definitely show because she shouldn’t have repeat stones. If you are doing the diet as we asked you to do it–unless there’s some genetic stuff going on–some people will do the diet, they will still make stones. Once they do the urine collection, they’ll see that they have idiopathic hypercalciuria, or their vitamin D is whacked, or their PTH, there’s so many things, guys, stone disease is complicated, but you want to begin with a urine collection.
And no matter what you’re diagnosed with, the Kidney Stone Diet will always help because we’re paying attention to sugar and salt, which will keep calcium in your bone. The other thing is, are we losing bone mass because we’re eating too much sugar and salt and meat protein, so that’s pulling calcium out of our bone into the urine? Could it be that? I’m not saying that for Gina, but there’s so many things is what I’m saying. It’s very complicated and the urine collection is the first thing you should be doing once you make a kidney stone. And whether your doctor says “No” or “Yes,” well if the doctor says “no,” you push for it. It is just something that needs to be done.
You would not be put on any kind of meds–nobody would put you on hypertensive medications if they didn’t take your blood pressure first. It’s a test that needs to diagnose you and that’s what the urine collection does. So you could be doing the diet perfectly, but you’re still making stones because there’s other things that urine collection will show your doctor that could be the reason for it. Very important, Gina. And Gina may have them. She just didn’t say anything about it. So Gina let us know if you’ve had a urine collection or not. You can certainly call back and we can talk a little bit more about it. That’s absolutely fine. But, glucosamine, I don’t see it as a problem. Doesn’t mean you should take tons of it. Take whatever the portion size is on the bottle.
You Have to be Honest with Yourself
And, also, whenever you’re taking supplements, people, you really should talk to your doctor about them, to see if they are okay for you. The supplement industry is not regulated. You’re spending a lot of money on them, you should at least talk to your doctor and/or pharmacist about them. But as far as collagen mixed with glucosamine, that would be a no-go for kidney stone risk. Thank you!
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, I mean, that is all so important. And I just wanted to ask one thing, how do you feel about food journals? Because, of course, the urine analysis will tell us exactly what’s happening–what’s within the system? Do you find value in having a food journal? Because it is so difficult to actually see what we’re eating? Like you said, “Oh, I’m eating well–”and this is nothing against Gina, just us as humans, we’re like, “Oh, I’m eating well. I’m not having a lot of this. I’m focusing on that.” But our perception doesn’t always match the reality.
Jill Harris: Oh, yeah, so when patients first work with me, I will tell them, “Listen, after a while, you won’t need to do this,” but, at first, I highly suggest you get a food journal, and write down what you eat. “Well, Jill, I’m putting it in my fitness pal. And my fitness pal said I only had 1500 milligrams of sodium that day.” But my fitness pal, or chronometer, or whatever app you’re using, only works if you’re putting in how much you really ate. So what you think is a cup is two cups. You’re just eyeballing it! I cannot tell you how many times this happens. This happens daily with my patients.
Or I’ll do the initial urine consult with them, I educate them, then we’re doing this–the follow-up one–and their numbers look excellent. And they’re like, “You know, I really started tracking–” whether they use an app or notebook– “what I was really eating every day, and I even started weighing some food. It takes two seconds, people. I know it seems arduous at first, but it really doesn’t take long at all. Using measuring cups for my milk, because some people are like, “Yeah, here’s a cup of milk,” and their whole bowl of cereal is like three cups of milk, you know? The problem with that is it’s way too much calcium. The body’s not gonna absorb it all at once.
So once people say, “I got off the phone with you, it was very annoying, but then I sat, and I listened, and I thought about and I’m like, ‘Oh, let me try this.'” And they were like, “God, I had no idea that the portion I was choosing to put in that bowl was three times of what it was.” I mean, I do the same thing. I am so spatially challenged, that I do get a cup and put my milk in a cup because I just am so not good with that–you know, with all the cooking I do and everything else–I’m so not good with it, I weigh out my meat portions because I tend to go too little. So I weigh out my meat portions. If I’m using carbs, I only use 1/ 1/2 or 1/4 of a cup at a time, so I measure it out and I’ve done this for decades.
So everybody’s a little bit different. I’ve never met a patient who first comes to me and is able to eyeball their food and liquid. It isn’t until they really start sitting back, and writing things down, and really being honest with how much they’re eating, and their whole world changes. They lose weight. People say, “I can’t lose weight because I’m old!” I’m old, I lose weight! You’ve got to be honest with what you’re doing. I’ve got 80-year-olds that work with me. Four hundred, 300, two hundred pounds, drop it, drop it, drop it! Fast? No! It takes time, people, but you can. You can! There’s no barrier unless you’re on certain medications or something or have some kind of medical condition, but that’s so rare.
So you have to be honest with really how much you’re eating, and, some of you, not enough. So it’s not just for overeating. It’s also for not enough like sometimes I do that. So it’s a lot, a lot, right? There’s just so much, so much always to learn and talk about when it comes to fitness and nutrition. It’s why, you know, it’s why I’ve loved doing it for so many years because there’s always something new to think about, new studies coming out, you know, all of it. What people do, human nature. It’s fascinating to me!
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, absolutely. So, thanks so much for the question. That was a great one. And the number if you have a question is 773-789-8763. We will feature you on a future episode! You talked about the urine analysis a lot in this episode. That’s such an important part and there is the urine analysis service where you can spend, what is it 15 minutes with Jill breaking down?
Jill Harris: It’s 30 now!
Jeff Sarris: Oh, it’s 30, okay!
Jill Harris: Yeah, on that 15 minute call, I was doing 30 minutes, because, you know, I like overachieving, but it is a 30-minute call. That call is a 30-minute call, for sure.
Jeff Sarris: If you want the help breaking down sort of what the urine analysis means, so then you can have a better appointment with your doctor and everything. It’s hugely valuable. With that, I think we’ll wrap for this week. Thanks again, everyone, for tuning in, and we’ll see you next time.
Jill Harris: Gina, great question! Thank you so much. Bye, everybody!