With mounting evidence of how healthy a plant-based diet can be, it is no surprise that a recent study has shown how it can also lower the risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD). The consumption of plant-based diets is becoming more common not only for health reasons, but also for ethical and environmental reasons as well.
The study which appeared in CJASN has found a link between plant-based diets and kidney function. The research has shown that consuming a diet based on nutrient-rich plants may help protect against the development of chronic kidney disease.
To study the link between a plant-based diet and the development of chronic kidney disease, a research team lead by Hyunju Kim and Casey M. Rebholz, Ph.D. analyzed information on almost 15,000 middle-aged adults enrolled in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study.
The results showed that participants with the highest adherence to a healthy provegetarian diet had a 14 percent lower risk of developing chronic kidney disease compared to those with the lowest adherence to a healthy plant-based diet.
It is important to note that these findings are showing those who consume a healthy plant-based diet. Not all plant-based diets are created equal as the quality of plant sources of food can differ. Nutrient-rich plants are more healthy, and there are also plants that are higher in refined carbohydrates that are less healthful.
Emerging evidence suggests that the risk of chronic conditions varies by types of plant-based diets. For example, this same study shows that those who consume a less healthy plant-based diet only had an 11 percent lower risk of developing chronic kidney disease than those with lower consumption of a less healthy plant-based diet.
The study also noted that the association between plant-based diets and chronic kidney disease was also especially evident in those who had a normal weight at the start of the study.
Primary Risk Factors
The primary risk factors for chronic kidney disease are hypertension and type 2 diabetes. According to the Center for Disease Control, there are approximately 68 million Americans who have hypertension. Other risk factors for CKD can include inflammatory diseases, autoimmune disorders, and obstructive diseases such as kidney stones and recurrent urinary infections.
“For kidney disease risk, it appears to be important to choose healthy options for plant sources of food, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes,” said Dr. Rebholz. “Also, our finding of a significant interaction by weight status at baseline suggests that following a healthy eating pattern may be particularly beneficial before becoming overweight or obese.”
One important message to keep in mind is that the quality of plant sources of food can differ. Be aware of the produce you are purchasing and if it is certified organic. You will also need to take note of the carbohydrates found in some plant sources and the sugar content. Just because it is a plant, doesn’t always mean you can consume as much of it as you like and that it is entirely healthy.