High-protein Diet Could Improve Kidney Function Study Finds

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A RECENT report raised concerns that following a low-carb, high-protein diet for a prolonged period can cause kidney damage in people with diabetes, who have difficulty eliminating high volumes of waste products. However, new research has found that such diets may improve kidney function.

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The Keto diet is a low-carb diet that shares similarities with the Atkins diet; both are popular in the weight loss community. New research suggests that such diets might improve kidney function in some cases. The findings stand in stark contrast to a recent review that suggested that this type of diet may present long-term health risks to kidney disease patients.

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The findings are based on the fact that diets high in protein, such as meat, fish, and eggs, boost the metabolism, and are more filling, which deters most from eating more calories. The study, published in the journal Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Obesity, suggests that concerns about high-protein diets causing kidney damage are unfounded.

For the study, Doctor David Unwin, a GP in Southport, Merseyside, analyzed the medical records of 143 patients who had followed a low-carb diet. The patients had been diagnosed with diabetes for an average of five years and three months.

They had normal kidney function or mild kidney disease and had followed a low-carb diet for an average of 30 months. Researchers saw improvements in the kidney function of two-thirds of the subjects. Furthermore, the estimated glomerular filtration rate – which measures kidney function – improved by 2.4 units over the course of the study.

Two other markers of kidney health saw significant improvement – one by 64 percent. Doctor Unwin and his co-author, Professor Chris Wong, firmly believe the improvement was down to better blood sugar levels and blood pressure.

He said: “We suspect high blood pressure is central to the damage that people with type 2 diabetes experience to their kidney function, so reducing blood sugar levels seem to be a logical first step.”

A previous review, written by Lee Crosby, nutrition education program manager at Physicians Committee had said: “The typical keto diet is a disease-promoting disaster.

“Loading up on red meat, processed meat, and sautéed fat and restricting carbohydrate-rich vegetables, fruit, legumes, and whole grains is a recipe for bad health. “In addition to the significant risks to kidney disease patients and pregnant women, keto diets are risky for others too, as these diets can increase LDL cholesterol levels and may increase overall chronic disease risk.

“While keto can reduce body weight in the short term, this approach is not more effective than other weight-loss diets.” Kidney disease means the kidneys are damaged and can’t filter blood the way they should.

People with high blood pressure and diabetes are at greater risk of the condition. Kidney disease can be prevented by managing blood pressure and diabetes. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, some ways to prevent kidney disease include:

Exercising: You should aim to be active for 30 minutes or more on most days.

Aim for a healthy weight: If you are overweight, you should work with your health care provider to create a realistic weight-loss plan.

Sleep: You should aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night.

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