High protein diet may have deleterious long-term impact on kidney health

High protein diets may lead to long-term kidney damage among those suffering from chronic kidney disease, according to research led by nephrologist Kamyar Kalantar-Zadeh, MD, MPH, PhD, of the University of California, Irvine.

The review article, "Nutritional Management of Chronic Kidney Disease," was published today in the New England Journal of Medicine and examines the role nutrition plays in managing chronic kidney disease, a condition that affects approximately 10 percent of the world's adult population. The article release coincides with the opening of the annual Kidney Week Congress, the world's premier nephrology meeting, in New Orleans, Louisiana.

"The high protein diet that has been used increasingly in recent years to control weight gain and obesity may have deleterious impacts on kidney health in the long term," said Kalantar-Zadeh, director of the Harold Simmons Center of Kidney Disease Research and Epidemiology, and chief of the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, UC Irvine School of Medicine. Colleague Denis Fouque, MD, PhD of the University Claude Bernard Lyon, France, also contributed to this work.

Chronic kidney disease is defined as evidence of structural or functional renal impairment for three or more months and is generally progressive and irreversible. Applying the potential benefits of nutritional management of the condition have remained underutilized in the U.S. and many other countries, said Kalantar-Zadeh.

"There is an exceptionally high cost and burden of maintenance dialysis therapy and kidney transplantation," he said. "Thus, dietary interventions and nutritional therapy may be increasingly chosen as a management strategy for CKD, helping to increase longevity and delaying the need for the onset of dialysis for millions of people worldwide."

The research also indicates that a low protein, low salt diet may not only slows the progression of CKD as an effective adjunct therapy, but it can also be used for the management of uremia, or high levels of urea and other uremic toxins in the blood, in late-stage or advanced CKD and help patients defer the need to initiate dialysis.​

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