Is Your Diet Killing Your Kidneys?
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) has been called a silent epidemic by more than a few experts. Like other diseases linked to unhealthy lifestyles, this potentially dangerous disease is on the rise. If left untreated, this disease can result in end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Once a person has been diagnosed with this, he or she faces life more or less tethered to a dialysis machine. Or a kidney transplant, if they’re lucky. Or death.
But according to a new study published recently in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, the Mediterranean diet can help prevent CKD. In fact, investigators found that for every one-point increase in the “diet score”—meaning the degree to which a person adheres to the time-honored diet—there was a 17% drop in the likelihood that a person would develop CKD.
For many people, declining kidney health is linked to high blood pressure and the development of diabetes. And those conditions are often directly related to lifestyle. The Mediterranean diet has been proven to result in lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of diabetes.
In the present study, 900 people were followed for about seven years. Those with the highest dietary scores—indicating that the diet they ate most closely resembled the classic Mediterranean diet—enjoyed a 50% reduction in the risk of developing CKD, and a 42% reduction in the risk of ESRD.
The Mediterranean diet features olives and olive oil, nuts, legumes, whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs, some fish and seafood, and limited amounts of meat and dairy. Added sugars are notably absent, as are trans fats.
Julie Lin, MD, of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, wrote an accompanying editorial commentary: “Although a seemingly simple goal, achieving this is challenging. We need to begin by embracing the reality that there is no magic pill or miracle food, only vigilance and discipline with diet and regular exercise…”
M. Khatri, Y. P. Moon, N. Scarmeas, Y. Gu, H. Gardener, K. Cheung, C. B. Wright, R. L. Sacco, T. L. Nickolas, M. S. V. Elkind. The Association between a Mediterranean-Style Diet and Kidney Function in the Northern Manhattan Study Cohort. Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, 2014; 9 (11): 1868 DOI: 10.2215/CJN.01080114