Kidney Health for All

by Maia Bedson

World Kidney Day

Our kidneys work all day and night for us, filtering around 150 litres of our blood every 24 hours.

If this is hindered in any way, and diet is a major factor in how our kidney’s function, then metabolic wastes can build up in our bloodstream and lead to a gradual decline in our kidney, and overall, health. (Kidney disease is associated with other diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.)

You may not be aware that kidney disease accounts for around 13% of all deaths in Australia.

The purpose of World Kidney Day is to highlight the importance of kidney health for everyone.

The U.S. National Kidney Foundation (kidney.org) is the “largest, most comprehensive and longstanding organisation dedicated to the awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease.”

They recommend and promote a plant-based diet for kidney health (as do the USA Dept of Agriculture and the US Department of Health and Human Services.) and are arguable well ahead in terms of the latest research than the similar organisation we have here in Australia.

Just some of the numerous research studies concluding the benefits of a plant-based diet for kidney health are: –

An article published in Nutrients journal in June 2019 titled: Vegetable-based diets for Chronic Kidney Disease? Is it time to reconsider? reviewed 179 studies, noting that the traditional medical advice for renal patients was to limit the intake of fruits and vegetables because of their high potassium content however this was changing due to the recognised multiple benefits obtained from a plant-based diet.[1]

A study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, assessing data from 63,257 participants tracking diet and kidney failure, showed that those who consumed the most protein from red meat increased their risk of kidney disease, and how replacing a single serving of red meat with another protein source such as legumes, reduced the risk by over 60%.[2]

In another scientific review of the research surrounding protein sources and kidney disease, the findings were that plant-based diets are protective against chronic kidney disease.[3]

And further – plant-based diets help prevent and manage chronic kidney disease according to a review published in Current Opinion in Nephrology and Hypertension.

Researchers found that red and processed meat increase the risk for kidney disease and exacerbate the progression of pre-existing kidney disease.

Significantly, they noted that the use of plant-based foods in treatment showed comparable results to oral medications and had other added benefits.[4]

So, while the research is clear in the benefits of a plant-based diet for kidney health generally, there are some foods that are considered particularly helpful, including apples, blueberries, strawberries and chia seeds. Here’s a delicious and easy breakfast recipe with kidney-kind ingredients that you might like to enjoy on a regular basis:

Berry Breakfast Oats

Serves 2

Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups rolled oats (or rice flakes for a gluten-free version)
1 T chia seeds
½ t ground cinnamon
1 medjool date – pitted and chopped
1 apple – grated (incl skin)
1 cup unsweetened, no added oil plant milk
½ cup blueberries (if using frozen, thaw in the refrigerator first)
4 fresh strawberries

Berry Breakfast Oats

Method:

  1. Combine the first six ingredients in a bowl and leave covered in a cool place or in the refrigerator for half an hour.
  2. Spoon a quarter of the mixture each into 2 small bowls or 2 jars
  3. Spoon half the blueberries into each bowl or jar
  4. Top both bowls or jars with remaining oat mixture
  5. Garnish with sliced strawberries and enjoy!

References:

[1] Cases A, Cigarron-Guldris S, Mas S, & Conzalez-Parra E
Nutrients June 2019

[2] Lew QLJ, Jafar TH, Koh HWL, et.al.
Red Meat intake and risk of ESRD
J Am Soc Nephrol July 2016

[3] Joshi S, Shah S, Kalantar-Zadeh K
Adequacy of plant-based proteins in chronic kidney disease
J Ren Nutr August 2018

[4] Joshi, Hashmi, Shah S, Kalantar-Zadeh K
Plant-based diets for prevention and management of Chronic Kidney Disease
Curr Opin Nephros Hypertens Nov 2019

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