A mother in desperate need of a kidney transplant reveals she has chosen to treat her condition by eating nothing but fruit. Polina Petruk, 33,
A mother in desperate need of a kidney transplant reveals she has chosen to treat her condition by eating nothing but fruit. Polina Petruk, 33, was told by doctors she should say ‘goodbye to any kind of normal life’ when diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) in 2007.
The rare condition causes scarring to the kidney and damage to the organ’s blood cleaning mechanism – and doctors warned Ms Petruk, from East Dulwich, London, she had a 50 per cent chance of dying within a decade.
FSGS also hampered her chances of having a child, as doctors feared a pregnancy would put too much pressure on her kidneys.
But Ms Petruk went against medical advice and had her daughter Maia, now five, which caused her lung function to plummet to just five per cent.
After becoming a ‘fruitarian’ in 2016, she now claims to feel fine – and needs fewer sessions of dialysis each week. And she says doctors are astonished at her energy levels and health, which she credits to her diet of six meals of fruit every day.
Ms Petruk, who is studying nutrition at London’s College of Naturopathic Medicine (CNM), said: ‘My case has left the doctors confused because they’ve never seen anything like it, as the prognosis for this condition is not good, with a 50 per cent chance of death in the 10 years following diagnosis.
‘I am not on the transplant list by choice because the side effects of the anti-rejection medication are horrendous. I do not want to put my body through that.’
FSGS is a rare disease in which scar tissue develops on the glomeruli, which filters the kidneys.
According to NephCure Kidney International, around 5,400 people are diagnosed with FSGS every year around the world.
Ms Petruk, whose family moved to the UK from Ukraine when she was 10, had eating disorders throughout her teens.
She believes they may have taken a toll on her body, and although no cause has been confirmed, she believe this may have been it.
The disease can often have no known cause, known as primary FSGS, or can be caused by infection, drugs, inherited diseases or conditions such as diabetes, which is called secondary FSGS.
There are few treatments available for FSGS, and Ms Petruk was horrified at the number of drugs she was prescribed.
She set out to find her own way of staying healthy, knowing that if the condition becomes advanced, it can result in kidney failure.
Ms Petruk said: ‘I only went to the doctor because I had been feeling off, never expecting to be told I had a kidney problem and would have to take so many prescription drugs to manage it.
‘So, I started experimenting with how increasing the amount of raw food in my diet would affect how I felt, my symptoms and the drugs I had to take, beginning slowly by eliminating all animal products.
‘Soon I realised I was starting to move better, my blood pressure was stabilising and my kidneys were filtering better.’
Eventually, by 2012, Ms Petruk claims she was able to come off her prescription drugs.
She said: ‘Because my health had improved so much between 2009 and 2012 – which I believe was because I was experimenting with lots of different diets, including the paleo or caveman diet, vegetarian and eventually vegan – I’d been able to reduce and eventually stop my prescription drugs.
‘Against all odds, I was living a normal life.’
Ms Petruk met her partner, Star, 30, an artist, at a music festival near Stonehenge in Wiltshire in 2012, and six months later found out she was pregnant.
Doctors had warned she would never be able to have children because her kidneys would not cope with the extra demand pregnancy put on them.
But Ms Petruk decided to have her baby against medical advice, and her kidneys were damaged as a result.
She said: ‘Maia was born as a planned C-section at 37 weeks because the pregnancy was damaging my kidneys.
‘And although she was small and cold and grumpy, medically she was fine and we were allowed home with her two weeks later.
‘I am convinced that following a plant-based diet was what allowed me to give birth to her despite my dire diagnosis.
‘Before having Maia, I’d used my diet to get them back to 95 per cent normal function, but after my pregnancy, I was told I had lost 70 per cent of their normal function.’
The downward spiral continued until, eventually, Ms Petruk needed four hourly dialysis sessions three times a week to stay alive, as her kidney function had fallen to a shockingly low five per cent.
Still resolute that changing her diet could make a difference, in 2016 she committed herself to become a ‘fruitarian’.
Ms Petruk obtains 80 to 90 per cent of her daily calories from fruit and the rest from vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Instead of eating three substantial meals a day, Ms Petruk eats six or seven smaller fruit meals to make sure she is getting enough calories.
Now, although still only with her kidneys working at five per cent, Ms Petruk’s dialysis has been reduced to two hourly sessions twice a week.
She claims that her medical team are astonished by her energy, and that because her general health is holding up, she doesn’t need as much dialysis.
‘The doctors are amazed that I am able to maintain my levels of energy as well as how clean my blood is,’ she said.
‘My uric acid levels and phosphate levels are as good as those of a person doing 12 hours of dialysis.
‘Also, I have great cardiovascular health and no diabetes which is common with patients with my type of diagnosis and I know it’s down to my high fruit diet.’
‘People think it must be hard to be a fruitarian, but it’s all in your head. It depends how much you want to do it and for me, I’m committed because it’s helping me to stop my kidneys from losing even more function.
‘I look good, I feel good and I’m vibrant and when people around you start to notice that they want some of it too.’
A spokesperson for Kidney Research UK said: ‘There is no evidence that a fruit-only diet will safely maintain kidney function.
‘Many diets have been tested for their capacity to slow down the progression of kidney disease, with most research being focused on restriction of protein intake.
‘There is some evidence that this can slow down progression of chronic kidney disease and delay the need for dialysis treatment.
‘But there is a significant risk of protein malnutrition leading to muscle weakness and other complications.’
A TYPICAL DAY’S DIET AS A ‘FRUITARIAN’
Polina Petruk’s day starts with water with lemon, or grapefruit juice.
First meal: 600g of pineapple.
Second meal: also 600g of pineapple.
Third meal: 400g of frozen wild blueberries and 200g of dates.
Fourth meal: Large salad of fruit-type vegetables like cucumber, peppers, tomatoes and herbs like parsley, dill and coriander, with some nut cheese like cashew nut cheese or pine nut cheese (all vegan).
Ms Petruk also takes a vegan multi vitamin supplement, omega 3 supplement and vegan b12 supplement.
She does not drink a lot because of her kidneys, but will drink hot water, or water with lemon, or fennel tea.
WHAT IS FOCAL SEGMENTAL GLOMERULOSCLEROSIS?
Focal and segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) is a rare disease in which scar tissue develops on the glomeruli, which filters the kidneys.
The glomeruli filter blood, removing the liquid that turns into urine and leaving behind protein.
The disease can happen on its own without a specified cause, known as Primary FSGS, or can be caused by infection, drugs or conditions such as diabetes, which is called Secondary FSGS.
Symptoms include swelling in the extremities due to fluid buildup in the body, high levels of fat in the blood resulting in high cholesterol, and high levels of protein in the urine and low levels in the blood.
There are few treatments available, but some include steroids to stop your immune system from attacking the glomuerli, ACE inhibitors and ARBs to stop protein loss, and diuretics to flush out the fluid buildup.
If the condition becomes advanced, however, it can result in kidney failure.
According to NephCure Kidney International, approximately 5,400 people are diagnosed with FSGS every year.
Culled from Daily Mail