Following a healthy diet may reduce your risk of suffering kidney disease, research suggests. Scientists at Bond University in Australia analyzed the dietary habits of more than 630,000 people over a decade. They found those who opted for fruit, vegetables, and fish over processed meats, salt, and fizzy drinks were 30 percent less likely to develop chronic kidney disease. The incurable condition can range from a mild, symptom-less disorder to kidney failure, where the organs do not work at all.
‘These results add to the accumulating evidence supporting the potential benefit of adhering to a healthy dietary pattern,’ lead author Dr. Jaimon Kelly said. ‘These results may assist in developing public health prevention programs for CKD, which may assist in reducing the burden of the disease.’
Kidney Disease Warning Signs
To reduce the risk of complications, the NHS recommends CKD patients eat plenty of fruits and vegetables while limiting saturated fat, sugar, and salt. However, it was unclear whether a healthy diet could prevent the disease from developing in the first place.
The scientists analyzed 18 studies on the subject with a total of 630,108 participants, who were followed for an average of 10.4 years. Healthy eating was defined as higher intakes of fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, fish, and low-fat dairy, with low processed meats, salt, or sugary drinks.
Results revealed eating well reduced the participants’ risk of CKD. It also lowered their odds of albuminuria, an early sign of kidney damage, by 23 percent. Albuminuria occurs when the protein albumin is in the urine. The protein plays an important role in building muscle, repairing tissue, and fighting infections.
Its presence in urine suggests the kidneys are not filtering the blood properly, allowing albumin to ‘leak’ into the urine. The researchers suggest people who follow the Mediterranean or DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet may reap the benefits.
The latter is made up of lots of fruit, vegetables, and low-fat dairy, with minimal saturated fat. Writing in an accompanying editorial in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, experts stress further research is required.
‘Randomised clinical trials with sufficient follow-up time to ascertain meaningful kidney outcomes are necessary to determine whether a change in dietary patterns is causally related to favorable kidney health outcomes,’ they said.
‘Meanwhile, there may be sufficient observational evidence for clinicians to emphasize the importance of healthy dietary patterns to individuals who are healthy or who are at risk of developing CKD.’
More than 1.8 million people in the UK have been diagnosed with CKD, NHS statistics show. Around a million sufferers are also thought to be undiagnosed. The condition affects around 14 percent of people in the US to some extent, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
CKD is often caused by other conditions that put a strain on the kidneys, like high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Long-term use of medication like anti-psychotic lithium and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may also be to blame.