Not only do plant-based diets appear to prevent kidney function decline, they may also be used to treat kidney failure. Even at the same protein loads, the body is able to better handle phosphorus excretion from plant-based diets, reducing the risk of metastatic calcification.
One of the important functions of our kidneys is to filter out excess phosphorus from our bloodstream, and so when our kidney function declines, phosphorus can build up in our bodies and cause something called metastatic calcification, where your heart valves and muscles and other parts of your body can buildup calcium deposits and eventually result in skin necrosis, gangrene amputations, all sorts of bad stuff.
So, if a person has diminished kidney function their doctor will likely put them on a low phosphate diet, which is tough, because basically everything with protein has phosphorus. So both plant foods and animal foods have phosphorus. But when omnivores have been compared to those eating vegan, “Vegans had significantly less protein leaking out into their urine," a sign of intact kidney function. So while they concluded that “These results can confirm the usefulness of vegetarianism here and support the use of a vegan diet for the patients with kidney failure.” maybe it was just because the omnivores were getting “a higher protein load,” and we know that lower protein diets appear to delay the progression of kidney failure. So did the plant based diet help because they were eating less protein or because the body somehow is able to handle plant protein better than animal protein?
To do that you’d have to split people into two groups, half on a vegetarian diet, half not, with the critical caveat to make sure both groups eat the exact same amount of protein and the exact same amount of phosophorus. And that’s what researchers did.
Published recently in the journal of the American Society of Nephrology, they took vegetarians and put them on a meat diet, and then took meat-eaters and put them on a vegetarian diet. Even though keeping phosphorus and protein intake were kept the same in both diet groups, here’s the level of phosophorus stuck in the bloodstream of those on the meat diet, compared to those on the veg diet. So something about plant foods enables our bodies to better handle their phosphorus content. Same amount of phosphorus, but plant phosphorus appeasr easier to cleanse away.
Positive results have been seen with even semi-vegetarian diets, but the reason the new study “observed more dramatic differences after only 1 week, was perhaps because of the pure vegetarian diets used in our study. Taken together, vegetarian-based diets may be beneficial for the control of phosphorus balance in patients with chronic kidney disease.
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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This is the second video of a two-part series about the latest discoveries on kidney function and food. See also Preventing Kidney Failure Through Diet. This is another reason why Plant Protein is Preferable and food is, after all, a package deal. In addition, plant based diets can help prevent and treat diabetes, prevent and treat COPD, prevent and treat arthritis, prevent and treat cancer, prevent and treat heart disease, and prevent and treat obesity. Why don't more providers in the medical community embrace plant-based diets? See my video The Tomato Effect and the hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects.
For more context, check out my associated blog post, Preventing and Treating Kidney Failure With Diet.