This week on the Kidney Stone Diet Podcast, Jill Harris answers a frequently asked question about vitamins and our kidneys.
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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.
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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, and you got so close to the camera just a moment ago. It just made me laugh.
Jill Harris: I don’t pay attention to stuff like that. I just live my life whether I’m on screen or not. I’m Jill Harris, your kidney stone prevention nurse.
Jeff Sarris: So, this is episode number 76.
Jill Harris: That’s amazing.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, 76 episodes! For those of you who’ve been around since number one, and you’ve listened or watched all of them, thank you and also wow. I can’t believe we’ve done this many! Like, it’s just such an amazing like, it’s such an amazing amount of content that I would have never guessed when we started that we would even hit this number. But I mean, we’re rapidly approaching–this year, we’ll hit 100. That’s wild!
Jill Harris: And you know what, Jeff and I have been doing these shows and we haven’t even seen each other physically because of COVID. So, I think really, we when we get to 100, we need to think something special for that. Because you know, I just show up and answer questions. Jeff does a lot of work on producing this and editing everything he does, I just merely show up, people. So I think we really need to celebrate that that’s going to be amazing, and what a joy to be able to put out information that people can rely on, and have a safe environment to go to and go, “Okay, she’s a little kooky. And God bless him for keeping her in line, but we trust them, you know, I trust them.” So I’m so grateful for this space.
Jeff Sarris: And that’s the beauty. You’ve done this for over 20 years, we have 76 episodes, that’s what, probably 30 plus hours of content? There isn’t a single thing that we have had to or will ever have to go back and amend. That’s just not–like you have all this experience and this is a wealth of experience and knowledge that you can help people with. But it’s not like we’re like, “Oh, hopefully this will be good in five years.” And look back, you’re like, “No, this is 20 years in the making,” like you know these things. I’m just the facilitator, but like, you know that this stuff works, and it’s forever going to work for people.
Jill Harris: I do know what works and it’s because of the experience. I’m so privileged because people come to me and tell me what they’re doing with their lifestyle habits–of course, we’re giving you a set of goals in the Kidney Stone Diet to adhere to more days than not, so you can lower your kidney stone risk, but it’s all the other stuff we talk about in this podcast and all the other social media that we do. It’s about how do you–what fascinates me, of course, kidney stone formers, they’re the underdogs, to me in the medical world where they’re getting conflictual information all the time. Nothing’s really concrete. And it’s tough to get things changed, ie diet. But what’s really fascinating, and I’ve had a privilege to experience for all these years, is listening to people every day telling me where they’re having a hard time, how to work together and fix that, and also teach people that this is not a black and white issue, lifestyle changes.
This is just practicing for the rest of their life. And so once we get the understanding that this was a practice, we can take the pressure off. And we can see, hey, at the end of the day, a birthday’s coming up, I don’t have to not have cake because I’m on keto for the rest of my life, right? We want to lower your added sugar, but some days you’re going to have cake, who cares? It’s about getting right back on track. So it’s about talking about the habits that we formed, decade after decade, and then coming to the point where those habits are not working for us anymore. So how can we change them? And all those years in the making, it’s gonna take a while to undo all that. And that’s okay. That’s where the fun comes in. That’s the project. That’s the passion and the practice, right. So I love all that. It’s fascinating to me!
Jeff Sarris: For sure. Yeah, endlessly, so much to talk about. So, we’re going to do another FAQ episode this week. If you have a question, the number is 773-789-8763. And we’d love to feature you and have your voice on a future episode. You can always leave a comment below the videos on YouTube also with any question or any follow-ups for particular episodes. But this question we’ve definitely talked about this, this topic sort of broadly speaking, and regular listeners are going to know sort of where you’re going to go with this at least your perspective on it, but which vitamins are hard on kidneys?
Jill Harris: Which vitamins are hard on kidneys? Well, yes, my seniors–seniors meaning they’ve been with me for a while–they’re going to be like, “Oh boy, here she goes.” So, you know, the supplement question comes up. If you go to your local drugstore–here she goes–there’s so many God bless it vitamins. Shelves! There’s so many shelves and aisles and shelves of vitamins, by all kinds of different manufacturers. Most of these vitamins have no third party looking into what’s going into them. They’re not regulated. There’s all kinds of stuff. “Clyde, she’s saying we can’t have no stuff!” I’m not saying that, people. I’m not saying that don’t put words in my mouth.
In Addition to Supplements, What Else Can I Do?
Here’s my belief, you do with it what you need to do with it. First of all, if you think you’re lacking in any supplements, speak to your doctor. “Jill, they don’t know nothing about supplements, they can’t hear me, they can’t help me.” Okay, so if you feel that way, talk to your pharmacist. “My pharmacist doesn’t know what they’re talking about either. We’re asking you!” Well, I have a nursing license, so I’m very careful about these kinds of things. I do not prescribe pills or medications or supplements, but here’s my take on supplements: unless a blood test has said you need help from a pill, I’m not a fan of them. Does that mean I think you should never take a supplement? I’m just saying I’m not a fan of them. Do I think your kidneys and liver have to work? Your liver, definitely. Any pill that you take, your liver has to metabolize for you and take care of.
Are they hard on the kidneys? I don’t think they’re hard on the kidneys. It’s a totally different topic. So do I think they’re hard on your kidneys? No. If you have one kidney and maybe you don’t want to put any extra stuff in there, maybe. So if you’re thinking about a supplement, and you want to know if it’s going to cause your kidney harm, ask your doctor about that specific supplement. That’s very important, all joking aside. If your doctor is unsure, your pharmacist who is a free resource for you and a little bit more available, may be very good at helping you with that, too. The thing is, supplements are a lot of money. Supplements are not miracles. Healthy eating and working out, in whatever form that is, that’s the best thing you can give to your body.
What If I Want to Boost My Immunity?
Eating well, all foods, except spinach and almond, within a normal portion size, a variety of food and moving your body. That’s great for your organs. You don’t have to worry about if anything like that is going to be hard for your organs. “Jill, I’m worried about immunity. I wanted to take a lot of A, B, and C, whatever those pills are. C, A, all the ones. I want to take extra of them because I want to boost my immunity.” Number one, your immunity don’t boost from a Monday to a Tuesday. It takes months to boost your immunity long time. You want to boost your immunity or decrease your risk for getting ill especially right now. Protect yourself in the ways that work for you. I’m not getting into it publicly and we all know why. Wash your hands, eat well, stay away from other people that are sick, no matter what they have strep throat, flu, doesn’t matter.
And build your immunity over time by feeding your body proper nutrition. Moving your body: that keeps your immunity up and feeling good. Are there studies that say extra this and that, and this and that can boost immunity? Yes, there are, but that takes a long time. It takes a while. It’s not going to be a sudden impact. So, let’s just say this, with all the medical conditions I’ve had in my life, I take vitamin D as a maintenance because my blood test warrants it. I get a blood test to see where my vitamin D is. I live in Chicago, there ain’t no sun here half the year. So, my vitamin D, typically, is on the lower side, so I take a supplement.
I check it every year to see do I need to up it? Do I need to lower it? I have to take vitamin B shots, B 12, because I don’t eat red meat and that kind of goes low for me. That’s what I have to do. I take no other supplements. I don’t believe in them. I try to get my vitamins from food, my nutrients from food. If you have malabsorption issues, you may very well have to go on a supplement. So, again, do supplements hurt your kidney? Talk to your doctor about that. You may have different conditions where you should be careful about how many, whatever pill you’re taking. If you need supplements because the blood test says you’re low in something, you should take a supplement. Talk to your doctor about that. So, that’s my opinion on supplements. You all can do what you want with them.
Most supplements–really read credible sources on vitamins and they’ll tell you, mostly, you’re peeing that stuff right out. People are so interested in vitamins. I wish they would be more interested in this. Do I have my “Eat responsibly” shirt on? Yeah, I do. Thank God it wasn’t my Dolly Parton shirt or something. Please put all your headspace and your energy in– “I’m going to get some kale today, because that’s high in bip, boop, and a bop.” It’s not a pill. We don’t absorb things as well in pills. Our body loves food. Plus, our mouth likes to chew. So, vitamins, if you turn around after you pee, you’re gonna see where your vitamin ends up. It’s in the bottom of the toilet bowl, okay? So I’m not a fan. I get a lot of haters for that and that’s absolutely fine because everyone’s allowed to have their own opinion. That’s my opinion. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.
Jeff Sarris: Absolutely, because we want, like, sort of a magic potion or something a lot of times because this will resolve everything. This will help me do X, Y, Z and I would like X, Y and Z. But yeah, nothing generally is that cut and dry. So it’s important to talk about.
Jill Harris: So, I’m telling you, “Boo, boo boo vitamins.” But then, the lighter side of me is like, “Jill, look they’re looking for answers. People are scared. There’s things out in the world, there’s this medical condition and they saw a video that if they danced three times around a pine cone, and they put milk thistle in their nose that that would get rid of their cancer.” Look, I’ve been there. I’ve seen those videos. Because when you do have stage four cancer and you have a child, you will be putting some milk thistle in all kinds of places you wouldn’t dream of. You’ll try whatever. So don’t think I’m not compassionate, or I don’t have empathy to what you’re going through. I do.
Matter of fact, I’ll tell you, when I was going through my cancer, I saw a naturopath and she’s an amazing woman. She’s a naturopath, many degrees, fancy, fancy doctor, and she specifically did cancer. I’m not immune to any of the things that you’re asking, meaning I get it. You want it fixed. And so, at that time I didn’t know if I was going to live or die. I’m not being dramatic. I didn’t know at that point and so I was doing all kinds of supplements because this said this and this said this. And two months into all the supplements I’m like, “I’m spending over 200 freakin dollars a month. I don’t get it. And, Jill, you just fell for what we all fall for.”
I got off every damn supplement, except one that really did have some great clinical studies on and it was from my gut and I take it till this day, actually. I’m not saying it because then typically when I say something, people all get on it, so I’m not saying it. But it has worked well for my gut. But at the end of the day, you know, I didn’t need $200 worth of supplements. They weren’t doing anything for me and I was like, it’s very easy when you’re scared to think that there’s some kind of magic potion out there that’s going to help you and there’s not most of the time.
So I just want to say, I recognize that sometimes I get a little headstrong about my view on supplements and that’s why I say this is my personal view. You all need to do what you need to do and talk to your doctor about them or your pharmacist. But I’ve been down that road. I just think unless you really need things. Pills. Don’t take ’em because one pill begets another pill. I say this in videos and another pill and another pill. Before you know it, you’re spending $200 on pills. No, thank you. So no, not a fan, but I understand it. I guess that’s where I’m going. I understand it. We’ve all been there with the supplements.
Jeff Sarris: Oh yeah, for sure. And it sounds like someone’s ringing the bell over there.
Jill Harris: What are you gonna do? You know, this is the kind of show we’re running here. It just happens. If I need to get up and look at my eye because I have an eyelash in it, who cares. It’s the kind of show we’re running.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, for sure. I think that’s great and I think we’ll wrap right there. If you have a question that you would like answered on a future episode, the number again is 773-789-8763. And we’d love to have your voice on the show and hear from you. We love hearing from everyone that’s called in so far, like, thank you so much. And leave the comments on the videos, give a thumbs up, subscribe on YouTube. It all means a lot. It all really helps to further what we’re trying to achieve here. So, thank you!
Jill Harris: Yeah, click the subscribe button, people. It helps us, please. I don’t ask for much. I’m asking for that. And God bless all of you guys. Thanks for being here. And thanks for asking such awesome questions and keeping the comments alive, too. I love answering questions in the comments. So thank you for all your–we’re trying to foster a community here so you know, you’re not alone. The more people that talk in the comments, and we get to answer questions, the happier we are. So thank you for being such a robust community. We appreciate everything you do for us as well.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah. So thanks again and we’ll see you next week.
Jill Harris: Bye!