Research has found yet another reason to follow a healthy diet, as it lowers the risk of kidney disease. This connection was found in people with diets rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy, as they may be less likely to develop chronic kidney disease. Those who don’t get enough of these foods in favor of sweets and meats tend to have higher kidney disease risk.
This new research shows how people who tend to consume a healthier diet full of fruits and vegetables were 30% less likely to develop chronic kidney disease. It was also shown that these same people with a healthy diet were 32% less likely to have protein in their urine caused by kidney damage.
Study co-author Jaimon Kelly, a lecturer in public health and nutrition at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, spoke about the findings. “There is no one-size-fits all, ideal diet, and this study supports that the reduced risk of kidney damage may be achieved if people can find a healthy way of eating that is high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, low-fat dairy, whole grains, and fish–and low in red and processed meat, sugar, and salt.”
“We didn’t investigate whether calorie content of foods consumed overall influenced the results, as targeting calories forces us to be too single-minded around a single nutrient,” Kelly said. “A healthy dietary pattern is naturally low in junk food and unhealthy fats, which are the biggest contributors to excessive calorie consumption in the Western diet.”
The study looked at data collected from 18 previously published studies with a total of more than 630,000 adults without kidney disease. On average, participants were followed for ten years. To track diet, researchers scored participants eating habits based on how much heart-healthy foods recommended by the American Heart Association they consumed. These diets included the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet. They also looked at how closely participants followed a vegetarian diet or other dietary guidelines for optimal health.
“There does not seem to be one single ideal diet for kidney health. Instead, there are several options for healthy dietary patterns from which patients can choose, including the Mediterranean diet and diets reflective of the national dietary guidelines,” said Casey Rebholz, author of an editorial accompanying the study and a researcher at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.
“Common features of these healthy dietary patterns are a high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and fish, and limited intake of red and processed meat, sodium, and sugary beverages and foods,” Rebholz added.
This study did have some limitations including the fact that the smaller studies it used for analysis used a variety of healthy eating patterns. However, even with the limitations, this study does help to outline the importance of healthy eating to prevent not only kidney disease but all other chronic illnesses.