A new study has uncovered a link between plant-based diets and kidney health. The finding, which appears in an upcoming issue of CJASN, indicates that consuming a diet based on nutrient-rich plants may help protect against the development of chronic kidney disease (CKD).
The consumption of plant-based diets is becoming more common for ethical, environmental, and health reasons. The quality of plant sources of food can differ, however, with nutrient-rich plants being more healthful and plants that are high in refined carbohydrates being less healthful.
Emerging evidence suggests that the risk of chronic conditions varies by types of plant-based diets. To evaluate the associations between plant-based diets and the development of CKD in a general population, a team led by Hyunju Kim and Casey M. Rebholz, PhD (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) analyzed information on 14,686 middle-aged adults enrolled in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study.
Among the major findings:
- During a median follow-up of 24 years, 4,343 new cases of CKD occurred.
- Participants with the highest adherence to a healthy plant-based diet had a 14% lower risk of developing CKD than participants with the lowest adherence to a healthy plant-based diet.
- Participants with the highest adherence to a less healthy plant-based diet had an 11% higher risk of developing CKD than participants with the lowest adherence to a less healthy plant-based diet.
- The association between plant-based diets and CKD risk was especially pronounced for participants who had a normal weight at the start of the study.
- Higher adherence to an overall plant-based diet and a healthy plant-based diet was associated with slower kidney function decline.
In an accompanying Patient Voice editorial, Patrick Gee describes his dietary experiences as a person who spent 4.5 years on peritoneal dialysis and is now approximately 2 years into a kidney transplant. He found plant-based diets to be lacking in several areas and has settled on the ketogenic diet, which is very low in carbohydrates, high in fat, and moderate in protein.