Healthy Plant-based Diet (but Not Plant-based Junk Food) May Protect Kidneys

Lisa Rapaport wrote . . . . . . . . .

While a healthy-plant based diet is tied to a lower risk of kidney disease, people who fill their plates with starchy, sugary vegetarian fare may actually increase their risk of kidney damage, a new study suggests.

Researchers examined data on eating habits and kidney function for 14,686 middle-aged adults, following half of them for at least 24 years. Overall, 4,343 participants developed chronic kidney disease.

People who most closely adhered to a diet of healthy plant-based foods were 14 percent less likely to develop kidney disease than individuals who rarely ate these foods, the study found.

At the same time, participants who consumed the greatest amount of unhealthy vegetarian foods were 11 percent more likely to develop kidney disease than people who ate the smallest amounts of these foods.

“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,” said senior study author Casey Rebholz of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

“We believe that healthful plant foods played an important role because higher consumption of healthful plant foods were associated with a lower risk of kidney disease and slower decline in kidney function when the consumption of less healthful plant foods and animal foods were held constant,” Rebholz said by email.

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.

Study participants who had the healthiest plant-based diets consumed an average of nine to ten servings a day of these foods. These individuals were more likely to be women, white, older, high school graduates, and physically active.

An unhealthy plant-based diet may limit meat but load up on potatoes. This type of diet might also include juice instead of whole fruit, sodas and sugary drinks, and lots of candy, cake and chocolate.

Participants who had the least healthy plant-based diets consumed an average of seven servings a day of these foods. They were more likely to be men, younger, sedentary, and drink more alcohol.

The association between plant-based diets and chronic kidney risk was especially pronounced for people with a normal weight at the start of the study, researchers report in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove that certain eating patterns directly contribute to kidney disease.

One limitation of the study is that researchers relied on participants to accurately recall what they ate and drank, which can lead to measurement errors, the study authors note. Researchers also may not have had a complete picture of long-term eating habits.

Still, it’s possible eating more fruits and vegetables may make it easier for the kidneys to rid the body of toxins, said Dr. Michal Melamed of Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York. Fruits and vegetables have less acid, putting less demand on the kidneys than meats which have a lot of acid.

“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, said by email. “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.”

Source: Reuters

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Study: Drinking Caffeinated Soft Drinks While Exercising in Hot Weather May Increase the Risk of Kidney Disease

The study is published ahead of print in the American Journal of Physiology — Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology.

A research team from the University at Buffalo in New York studied healthy adults in a laboratory environment that mimicked working at an agricultural site on a hot day (95 degrees Fahrenheit). The volunteers completed an hour-long exercise cycle consisting of a 30-minute treadmill workout followed by three different five-minute lifting, dexterity and sledgehammer swinging activities. After 45 minutes of exercise, the volunteers rested for 15 minutes in the same room while drinking 16 ounces of either a high-fructose, caffeinated soft drink or water. After the break, they repeated the cycle three more times for a total of four hours. Before leaving the laboratory, the volunteers were given more of their assigned beverage to drink before consuming any further fluids. The volume was either 1 liter or a volume equal to 115 percent of their body weight lost through sweating, if that amount was greater. The researchers measured the participants’ core body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, body weight and markers of kidney injury before, immediately after and 24 hours after each trial. All volunteers participated in both soft drink and water trials separated by at least seven days.

The research team found higher levels of creatinine in the blood and a lower glomerular filtration rate — markers for kidney injury — after the soft drink trial. These temporary changes did not occur when the participants drank water. In addition, the participants’ blood levels of vasopressin, an anti-diuretic hormone that raises blood pressure, was higher and they were mildly dehydrated during and after the soft drink trial. “The consumption of soft drinks during and following exercise in the heat does not rehydrate,” the researchers explained. “Thus, consuming soft drinks as a rehydration beverage during exercise in the heat may not be ideal. Further work will need to discern the long-term effects of soft drink consumption during exercise in the heat, and its relation to the risk of [kidney disease].”

Source: The American Physiological Society

Kidney Disease Risk Tied to Sugar-Sweetened Drinks

People who drink lots of sugar-sweetened drinks may be putting themselves at a heightened risk for kidney disease, a new study suggests.

The study of more than 3,000 black men and women in Mississippi found that those who consumed the most soda, sweetened fruit drinks and water had a 61 percent increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease.

That water was included in the increased risk surprised the researchers. It’s possible, however, that participants reported drinking a variety of types of water, including flavored and sweetened water. Unfortunately, that information was not included in the Jackson Heart Study, which was used for the project.

Specifically, the researchers looked at beverage consumption as reported in a questionnaire given at the start of the study in 2000 to 2004. Participants were followed from 2009 to 2013.

“There is a lack of comprehensive information on the health implications of the wide range of beverage options that are available in the food supply,” said lead study author Casey Rebholz.

Rebholz is an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

“In particular, there is limited information on which types of beverages and patterns of beverages are associated with kidney disease risk in particular,” she added.

And while the study found an association between sugary drink consumption and kidney disease, it couldn’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

The study findings were published online Dec. 27 in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

In an accompanying journal editorial, Dr. Holly Kramer and David Shoham of Loyola University in Chicago said the findings have public health implications.

Although a few U.S. cities have reduced consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages by imposing taxes on them, others have resisted these efforts, the editorial noted.

“This cultural resistance to reducing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption can be compared to the cultural resistance to smoking cessation during the 1960s after the Surgeon General report was released. During the 1960s, tobacco use was viewed as a social choice and not a medical or social public health problem,” Kramer and Shoham wrote.

In another editorial, a kidney disease patient, Duane Sunwold, said he changed his eating and drinking habits to put his disease in remission. He’s a chef who offers recommendations to other kidney disease patients who are seeking to cut back on sugar-sweetened drinks.

Source: HealthDay


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Kidney Disease More Deadly for Men

Chronic kidney disease is more likely to progress to kidney failure and death in men than in women, a new study reveals.

“We found that women had 17 percent lower risk of experiencing [kidney failure] and the risk of death was 31 percent lower in women than in men,” said study author Dr. Ana Ricardo. She’s an associate professor of medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

More than 26 million people in the United States have chronic kidney disease, which causes a gradual loss of kidney function. In some patients, it can lead to kidney failure and the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant.

The study included nearly 4,000 chronic kidney disease patients. After a median follow-up of seven years, the rate of kidney failure was 3.8 per 100 people in men and 3.1 per 100 in women. Rates of death were 3.6 and 2.6, respectively.

“We’ve known for a long time that women are more likely to be diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, but there has been conflicting research on chronic kidney disease outcomes by sex,” Ricardo said in a university news release.

“The results of this study suggest that biology and psychosocial factors may be the driver of the sex-related disparity observed in patients with chronic kidney disease,” Ricardo suggested.

She added that she hopes the report might boost awareness among patients and their care providers of the higher risk of kidney failure and related deaths among men.

The study was published in the December issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Source: HealthDay


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Household Chemicals Tied to Kidney Problems

Widely used household and industrial chemicals may harm the kidneys, researchers say.

These manufactured chemicals, called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), are not biodegradable. People are exposed to them through contaminated soil, food, water and air.

“The kidneys are very sensitive organs, particularly when it comes to environmental toxins that can get in our bloodstream,” said study author Dr. John Stanifer of Duke University in Durham, N.C.

“Because so many people are exposed to these PFAS chemicals, and to the newer, increasingly produced alternative PFAS agents such as GenX, it is critical to understand if and how these chemicals may contribute to kidney disease,” Stanifer said.

Analyzing 74 studies on PFAS, the researchers found the chemicals are associated with poorer kidney function and other kidney problems. They said it’s particularly concerning that children have greater exposure to these chemicals than adults.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says PFAS can be found in food packaging; stain- and water-repellent fabrics; nonstick cookware; polishes, waxes, paints and cleaning products; and firefighting foams. In fish, animals and humans, PFAS have the ability to build up and persist over time.

The study appears in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

“By searching all the known studies published on the topic, we concluded that there are several potential ways in which these chemicals can cause kidney damage,” Stanifer said in a journal news release.

“Further, we discovered that there have already been multiple reports suggesting that these chemicals are associated with worse kidney outcomes,” he added.

Source: HealthDay


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