Mediterranean Diet Lowers Kidney Disease Risk

A study scheduled for publication in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology has found that consuming a Mediterranean-style diet is associated with a lower risk of chronic kidney disease, a progressive disease affecting over 20 million adults in the US. The diet is characterized by a high intake of vegetables, fruit, legumes, fish and healthy fats, and lower amounts of red meat, processed foods and sugar.

“Many studies have found a favorable association between the Mediterranean diet and a variety of health outcomes, including those related to cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cancer, among others,” noted lead researcher Minesh Khatri, MD, of Columbia University Medical Center. “There is increasing evidence that poor diet is associated with kidney disease, but it is unknown whether the benefits of a Mediterranean diet could extend to kidney health as well.”

For the current study, Dr Khatri and colleagues analyzed data from a group of 900 men and women followed for nearly seven years. Dietary information was scored for Mediterranean diet adherence.

The researchers determined that for each one point increase in Mediterranean diet score there was a 17% reduction in the risk of developing chronic kidney disease. For those whose scores of 5 or higher were indicative of the closest adherence to the diet, a 50% lower risk of developing the disease and a 42% lower risk of rapid kidney function decline were observed.

“Although a seemingly simple goal, achieving this is challenging,” wrote Julie Lin, MD, MPH, FASN, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in an accompanying editorial.  “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, and the rare indulgence in cake for very special occasions.”


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