Given how vascular our kidneys are, it should comes as no surprise that animal protein, animal fat, and cholesterol are associated with declining kidney function (microalbuminurea—loss of protein in the urine), which can be an early warning sign for not only kidney failure, but also heart disease and a shortened lifespan.
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Our kidneys are highly vascular organs. That’s why they look so red inside. Afterall, our two little kidneys have to filter through our entire blood supply and as such receives about 20% of our cardiac output every time our heart contracts. And so if the standard American diet is so toxic to the blood vessels in our heart, brain, and pelvis, leading to heart attacks, strokes, and sexual duysfunctionwhat might it be doing to our kidneys?
Researchers at Harvard recently put that question to the test. Thousands of women and their diets and their kidney function were followed for a decade. What they’re looking for is the presence of protein in the urine, known as microalbuminuria. There’s not supposed to be any protein in our urine. The whole point of our kidneys is to keep the good stuff in your blood and get rid of the bad. It’s supposed to hold onto protein and if it doesn’t, that’s a sign our kidneys are starting to fail.
There were three significant risk factors for declining kidney function in these women, none of which come as a surprise given that we’re talking about clogged and inflamed blood vessels: “Specifically, diets higher in animal protein, animal fat, and cholesterol may be associated with microalbuminura—failing kidneys.” No such association was found for plant protein or plant fat.
And microalbunuria is kind of a canary in a coal mine telling you something is definitely wrong with your blood vessels. “Microalbuminuria and modest decrements in kidney function are powerfully associated with subsequent overt kidney disease, cardiovascular risk, and all-cause mortality, meaning a shortened life-span. “In summary, diets lower in animal protein, animal fat, and cholesterol may be protective" against this kidney damage.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Serena
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The references to the other organs affected by atherosclerosis can be explored in Cholesterol and Female Sexual Dysfunction, Cholesterol and Lower Back Pain, Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms: Ticking Time Balloons, and Heart Attacks and Cholesterol: Purely a Question of Diet. I have another 20 videos on Harvard studies, 19 that cover kidney health, and hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects. On Monday I'll address Treating Kidney Failure Through Diet.