Does Being Vegetarian Help Chronic
Kidney
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February 25, 2017

By Susan Callahan, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist



Chronic kidney disease is more common than you think. About
14% of people in the US have the disease, according to the
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and K
idney
Diseases.  Part of the reason so many people have kidney
disease is that they also have diabetes, and diabetes is a
leading risk factor for kidney disease. With kidney disease, the
kidneys ability to filter toxins from the blood become impaired.
We know that one indication of kidney disease is the presence
of protein in the urine. But does this mean that giving up
protein altogether -- becoming vegetarian or vegan ---
actually slows down the progression of kidney disease?


Eating Less Protein Lightens the Workload of your Kidneys


As kidney disease progresses, in stages 3 and 4, the kidneys
become less and less able to get rid of excess phosphorus.
The major source of phosphates are meats and dairy, so
people with advanced kidney disease who eat either meat or
dairy place an unmanageable burden on their kidneys.

For this reason, those with chronic kidney diseases are usually
told to restrict dietary intake of phosphates to 800 mg/day.

But the problem is not just protein --- it's the source of the
protein.  Protein from meat or dairy increase the phosphorus
imbalance while protein from vegetable sources doe snot,
according to a 2011 study from Indiana University School of
Medicine.  

The study, entitled " Vegetarian compared with meat dietary
protein source and phosphorus homeostasis in chronic kidney
disease" compared the effects on kidney excretion of
phosphorus in meat/dairy diets versus vegetarian diets.

Going Vegetarian for Just One Week Reverses Phosphorus
Imbalance

































After just one week of vegetarian meals, the study found that
participants with kidney disease had "lower serum
phosphorus levels and decreased FGF23 level [fibroblast
growth factor-23 ]".


This improvement after just one week is a powerful reason to
look very closely at the benefits of a vegetarian diet fulltime, if
you have kidney disease.

But are there downsides to being vegetarian if you have
kidney disease?



Do Vegetarians Miss Nutrients Important for Those with
Chronic Kidney Disease?



In 2000, a study from France attempted to answer this
question. The study was carried out by Service de
Néphrologie, Hôpital Pellegrin, Bordeaux, France.


For a little over 2 years, 239 patients with chronic kidney
disease were fed a very low protein, essentially vegetarian
diet. The diets were supplemented with "essential amino acids
and ketoanalogs, calcium carbonate, iron, and multivitamins ".

What they found was that these patients survived longer on
dialysis and that, overall, dialysis was delayed.  For those
patients who were on dialysis, only 2.1% died, a very low
mortality rate for people with advanced kidney disease.

Another study compared the nutritional makeup of vegetarian
diets with meat-based Western diets and found that there is
no nutritional deficiency in the vegetarian diets.  

This was a massive study from researchers at University of
Oxford, UK.  They examined diets of 33,863 meat-eaters and
31,546 vegetarians and vegans.  They found that  vegetarians
take in about 5% fewer calories and vegans take in about
14% fewer calories than meat-eaters. Vegetarians eat a
higher percentage of carbohydrates (51.2% vs. 46.9% of
energy intake), and a lower percentage of protein (13.1% vs.
16.0% of energy intake) compared to meat-eaters.

But, other than Vitamin B-12, vegetarians and vegans do not
miss essential nutrients.




For People with Chronic Kidney Disease, a Plant-Based Diet
Prevents Complications


The amount of vegetable protein you eat is inversely related
to your blood pressure. The more vegetables you eat, the
lower your blood pressure.   This was the finding of a 2006
study from St Mary's Campus, Imperial College London.

The study looked at data on 4680 persons, between the ages
of 40 to 59 years, from 4 countries. Researches measured
systolic and diastolic blood pressure 8 times at 4 visits, diet
diaries were collected 4 times daily and urine samples were
collected twice per day.


Why is it important to know the connection between high
blood pressure and eating meat if you have kidney disease?

It's important because, for many years, doctors have
understood that the evidence connecting high blood pressure
and renal disease is strong.

Paul K. Whelton and Michael J. Klag from the Departments of
Epidemiology and Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University
School of Hygiene and Public Health published an important
article on the connection in 1989 entitled "Hypertension as a
Risk Factor for Renal Disease".

Untreated, severe hypertension can rapidly lead to renal
failure, the study found. Moreover, evidence is growing that
mild or moderate hypertension also puts you at risk for
development of kidney disease.



We know that vegetarian, vegan and other plant-based diets
lower hypertension but the mechanism is not yet known.
Scientists believe that eating a plant-based diet "stimulates
butyrate-producing bacteria, which positively impact digestive
tract health. These bacteria are beneficial for epithelial cells"
according to a 2017 study from WAM Teaching Hospital of
Lodz, Poland.  Epithelial cells line the inner wall of your blood
vessels and directly impact your blood pressure.





It's Almost Never Too Late to Start

As we have seen, even patients with stage 3 or 4 renal failure
benefit from switching to a plant-based diet. Such a diet,
properly supplemented under a doctor's care can preserve the
kidney's filtration levels and delay dialysis or, if dialysis has
already begun, lower mortality.

This means that, if you have kidney disease, it is never too late
to improve your health. Talk to your doctor about the
potential benefits of a plant-based eating.






























































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