A healthy plant-based diet lowers risk of kidney disease
Plant-based junk food don't qualify as "healthy"

The new health activity that’s “in” these days is following a plant-based diet, mostly because of it it lowers the risk of kidney disease; but a new study suggests that consuming starchy, sugary vegetarian fare may actually increase kidney damage risks.

Researchers followed at least half of 14,686 adults for around 24 years after having examined their eating habits and kidney function. In total, 4,343 participants developed chronic kidney disease.

People who followed a healthy plant-based diet were 14% less likely to develop kidney disease than those who did not eat such foods as often. Concurrently, those who ate large amounts of unhealthy vegetarian foods were 11% more likely to develop kidney disease than those who did eat such “junk food”.

Plant foods and kidneys

A healthy plant-based diet includes whole grain foods; fruits like apples, pears, and oranges; veggies like dark, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, and broccoli; nuts and natural peanut butter; and legumes like string beans and lentils.

Senior study author Casey Rebholz of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore said, “Relatively higher intakes of healthful plant foods and relatively lower intakes of less healthful plant foods and animal foods are associated with favorable kidney outcomes.”

Rebholz added that a consistent plant-based diet is linked with a lower risk of kidney disease and function decline when the “consumption of less healthful plant foods and animal foods were held constant.”

Diet differences

An unhealthy plant-based diet includes juice instead of whole fruit, sodas and sugary drinks, and lots of candy, cake and chocolate. Even limiting meat but loading up on potatoes falls under this type of diet.

The study wasn’t designed to show how certain diets contribute to kidney disease, nor did it have a complete picture of long-term eating habits as researchers relied on participants to recall what consumed.

Dr. Michal Melamed of Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center in New York however says it’s still possible consuming more fruits and vegetables can help the kidneys rid the body of toxins easier; fruit and veggies have less acid, thus not as demanding on the kidneys compared to meats.

“It could also be that the people who eat more fruits and vegetables also do other things, such as exercise more, get more sleep, or in general have a healthier lifestyle and that is the reason why this association is seen,” Melamed, who wasn’t involved in the study, “In general, multiple studies have shown that eating a lot of processed meats and red meats is probably not good for people, not just for their kidney health but also for the heart.”

Story from Reuters

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