HEALING Polycystic kidney disease one bite at a time.

Healing PKD Metabolism By Choosing The Right Fats

Did you know that the types of fat you choose to eat on a daily basis have a distinct impact on your metabolism- and thereby on PKD progression?

Our mitochondria are the power plants in our cells and they are responsible for keeping us running with energy. It is their metabolism that converts glucose or ketones into ATP, which is what our actual cells need to function. In PKD kidneys this metabolism is impaired, which is part of the reason for cyst growth.

In a 2020 study, Italian researchers examined in detail the mitochondria of a mouse model of PKD. What they noticed were several alterations “including reduced mitochondrial mass, altered structure and fragmentation”. Also, they found reduced expression of the proteins responsible for mitochondrial fusion, fusion being the process by which the fragmentation can be rescued.

So, this means, the power plants in our kidneys are broken into smaller pieces, and the pieces themselves also don’t quite look like they should, which in biology means they also don’t work as they should. In cell biology, structure equals function. So, one question the patient might ask is, how can we induce mitochondrial fusion? How do we get these disparate smaller mitochondria to bond together again and give us a more efficient and healthy metabolism? And more importantly, how can we do it safely with diet and without medication?

One Very Interesting Way to induce mitochondrial fusion is the consumption of stearic acid. What is stearic acid? It’s about 10% of butter, 25-30% of suet and up to 35% of cocoa butter. It’s also used in soap and candles. So, it is one of the main constituents of healthy dietary saturated fats. This gives us one more reason to choose carefully which fats we consume, since other, less healthy vegetable oils such as soybean oil for example have been connected with mitochondrial dysfunction.

So please, pay attention. Don’t assume your favorite restaurant will not be drowning your food in vegetable oils. Don’t assume your salad dressing will not contain canola oil, don’t assume your burger was not fried in soybean or sunflower oil. If you eat out, try to think, where could they have hidden those bad oils? Because they are out to make a buck and cheap vegetable oils for sure are one way to make a lot of profit- and to get you satiated very quickly for pennies. At the restaurant, ask to have your steak or burger fried in butter. Tell them you’ll have a seizure if you eat vegetable oil if necessary, so they don’t try to dupe you. Instead of mitochondrial destruction, you will be promoting mitochondrial fusion, and with that a healthier kidney.
It’s a simple change, but it makes a big difference.

It’s also not just about the stearic acid content of any given fat that you eat, but it’s also about the ratio of long chain saturated fats to unsaturated fats. Brad Marshall has compiled an awesome table for us to compare different fats:

Stearic Acid content and ratios of different fats. Source: Brad Marshall

You want a high ratio and also a high stearic acid content. So Tallow (represented here by wild elk) and cocoa butter start to look pretty appealing!

Brad has developed something else that is pretty interesting. In a 2012 dissertation he read about an experiment that was done on a group of mice, in which the mice were either fed standard chow, chow enriched with oleic acid and chow enriched with stearic Acid. The enriched diets contained about 40% of these fats. Interestingly, the stearic acid group gained the most muscle and was the leanest. Using this as a template, he developed what he calls the “croissant diet”.

Don’t get me wrong, this diet is in no way suitable for PKD since it is very high in carbohydrates and we have a specific problem here that does not react well to this. But in the process of developing this croissant-centered diet he came up with a product he calls stearic acid enhanced butter oil. You can find it in the table above as well. And you can make it at home. Using grass fed butter of course. If you have ever made your own ghee, you know what to do. It’s pretty simple. If you haven’t, here is a link for a simple recipe at the bottom of this post.

when you’re just about done with the recipe and everything is nice and hot, for every 8 ounces of grass-fed butter you would add 55 g of pure stearic acid to the pot and dissolve it with the rest. You can now use your stearic acid enhanced ghee for everything you would usually use ghee or butter for. If this is too much for you, you can also just throw about 5 g of stearic acid into your bulletproof coffee in the morning, provided you are using about 20 g of butter. (Aiming for that same 27% stearic acid content) Or sprinkle it into your pan when you’re cooking, and let it dissolve right in. If you’re curious where to buy purified stearic acid, it does exist on Amazon, however, buyer beware! Most sellers don’t list the purity of the product and is not unusual to be 60% or less. This is not a risk that we can take. So, for now it is best to buy it from reputable chemical suppliers that list the purity of the product. If it says 100%, its not true. Anything above 90% is acceptable if it is food grade.

One example would the product from the company carl roth. Link below.

it’s 98% pure and from a reputable company. There is no affiliation.

But, I hear you saying: Felix, I’m not starting to eat pellets from a chemical company on a regular basis! Really? Isn’t that pretty much what a supplement is?

If you’re still not convinced,  I hear you.

So what are some other steps we could be taking to increase our intake of stearic acid? We could be adding chunks of cocoa butter to our bulletproof coffee, which i am doing at this very moment. Roughly a 1:1 mixture of butter and cocoa butter will give you about 22% stearic acid which is not bad. We could buy suet, which is kidney fat, from grass fed cows and render it at home to use in cooking. Just put it into a bowl in the oven on a low temperature for a long time. This stuff has a whopping 25-30% Stearic acid content and can be had pretty cheaply if you are in good contact with the farmer. Do you think it might be a good idea to consume parts of a healthy kidney if you want a healthy kidney? ?

Other tallow from beef will still give you around 20% stearic acid.
We could also limit our intake of Linoleic acid, which displaces stearic acid in our fat cells and gives those fat cells the signal to grow. I havent found any research on this in connection to PKD, but any growing signals should be avoided wherever possible if you ask me, especially when its unhealthy growth like tumors, cysts – or fat cells. We dont want any of these to grow, do we? So check your cronometer the next time you make a meal and see how much linoleic vs stearic acid you just consumed. The less linoleic and the more stearic, the better. As a rough guideline you can look at beef tallow, which is under 3% linoleic acid and around 20% stearic acid, which gives a ratio of about 1:7 linoleic to stearic acid.

If you want to learn even more about stearic acid and its benefits, I can highly recommend this short podcast:

I for one am ordering a kilogram of the 98% stearic acid and will start to add this to my coffee and foods for the near future. I will also take some suet in my next grass fed beef order. I will be very interested to see if there are immediate weight loss effects or even long-term effects on energy or cyst growth. However, since I’m combining so many strategies it’s never possible to tell which one worked, but the most important thing is progress by whatever means necessary.

I hope I could motivate you today to try something new and keep reversing PKD.

Ghee Recipe:

Stearic Acid at Carlroth: