Image Credit: Dustin Kirkpatrick.

How Not to Die from Kidney Disease

Kidney failure may be both prevented and treated with a plant-based diet, and it’s no wonder: Kidneys are highly vascular organs, packed with blood vessels. Harvard researchers found three significant dietary risk factors for declining kidney function: “animal protein, animal fat, and cholesterol.” Animal fat can alter the actual structure of our kidneys. In my video How Not to Die from Kidney Disease, you can see plugs of fat literally clogging up the works in autopsied human kidneys from a study published in The American Journal of Pathology.

Animal protein can have a “profound effect” on normal kidney function, inducing “hyperfiltration,” increasing the workload of the kidney. Not plant protein, though. After eating a meal of tuna fish, the increased pressure on the kidneys goes up within only a few hours. We aren’t talking about adverse effects decades down the road, but literally within hours of it going into our mouths. What happens if, instead of having a tuna salad sandwich, you had a tofu salad sandwich with the exact same amount of protein? No effect on your kidneys. Our kidneys have no problem dealing with plant protein is no problem.

Why does animal protein cause the overload reaction, but plant protein doesn’t? It appears to be due to the inflammation triggered by the consumption of animal products. Indeed, taking a powerful, anti-inflammatory drug along with that tuna fish sandwich can abolish the hyperfiltration, protein-leakage response to meat ingestion.

There’s also the acid load. Animal foods, such as meat, eggs, and dairy, induce the formation of acid within the kidneys, which may lead to “tubular toxicity,” damage to the tiny, delicate, urine-making tubes in the kidney. Animal foods tend to be acid-forming—especially fish, which is the worst, followed by pork and poultry—whereas plant foods tend to be relatively neutral, or actually alkaline or base-forming to counteract the acid, especialy green leafy vegetables. So, “[t]he key to halting progression of CKD [chronic kidney disease] might be in the produce market, not in the pharmacy.”

It’s no wonder plant-based diets have been used to treat kidney disease for decades. In my video, you can see a remarkable graph that follows the protein leakage of subjects first on a conventional, low-sodium diet, which is what physicians would typically put someone with declining kidney function on, then switched to a supplemented vegan diet, back to the conventional diet, once more on the plant-based diet, and back and forth again. The chart is filled with zig-zags, showing kidney dysfunction was effectively turned on and off like a light switch, based on what was going into their mouths.


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In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

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Discuss

Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.


66 responses to “How Not to Die from Kidney Disease

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  1. YR, I have questions too after reading your link about some of the foods being safe if we are trying to preserve kidney function. They also mention tomatoes, bananas, oranges, wheat bran, potatoes and sweet potatoes, and other foods that we eat daily. If we are trying to raise GFR (at least trying to prevent further drop from 65 say) should we be not eating these foods?

    1. Barb,

      When my cousin’s kidneys started failing, they immediately put him on an anti-WFPB diet and I still can’t do the logic.

      He sped toward dialysis and that caused heart problems faster than anything.

      Last week, he had diarrhea and after that he was not in pain for a week and drove to the grocery store for the first time in 6 months.

      I don’t trust any of the things they have done with him.

      I don’t understand that WFPB wouldn’t have been better.

      1. Barb, if kidney function is still close to normal, lower potassium isn’t advised.
        The major reasons for diminished kidney function are high blood pressure, and high blood sugar.
        If the problem is high blood pressure, the best way to deal with it is to get 4,700mg. daily in the diet. This lowers blood pressure which is often the result of sodium being too high, potassium too low.
        If this isn’t your problem, then check to see if you have blood sugars that are too high. Many people, as they get older have this problem. The solution there is to test your blood sugar after meals to see which foods raise your glucose levels.

        1. Barb, One other point often misunderstood even by doctors.
          The eGFR is a calculated number. It uses your creatine level and includes your age in the calculation. It assumes that your creatine number falls as you get older. Why? Because it also assumes you have less muscle. So if you are exercising as you should, you will have more muscle than most women your age. In that case your kidney function will -Appear- to be getting worse, when, in fact, it is not.
          What matters really is if your creatine level is normal.
          Everyone should keep copies of their blood and urine tests for past years.
          Compare them, are your bun, and creatine numbers going up? Are you spilling protein in your urine?
          if not, it’s probably not your kidneys.
          If you are still concerned request a Microalbumin-Creatinine Ratio.

          1. Thank you Marilyn! Very helpful to me, and to a few others since I have seen similar comments in recent months. My last random glucose was 5.2 My bp is usually ok like between 105 and 120 over 65. But I am muscle-y, and by habit, often dehydrated. I had 3 creatine tests in last 2 months because of surgery so I will ask about the ratio. I will eat an hour before my next appt so they can test my blood sugar, post meal. My doctor did say he could probably find some proteins in a urinalysis, but my GFR has stayed around 60 to 68 for years with the odd rise to 70 or 80.
            They did not say potassium was a problem (yet) I mentioned to Deb the other day that when I inreased my fruit consumption, my blood pressure was lower. Thanks again Marilyn for the helpful comments, it’s greatly appreciated.

  2. Reading bananas and oranges has a fascinating timing.

    I have lost 2 pounds since I added in a banana and an orange (and yesterday I also added in an apple) and a McDougall soup.

    I hadn’t lost any weight going off nuts and avocado or adding in exercise and I am still not sure this will keep going and I can’t figure out what I am eating less of because I am still seeming to be eating the same.

    I am clueless, but I will stick with it and this was the first scale drop since last time I spoke about it.

    Not sure how long ago that was, but I went off the nuts and avocado back before VegSource started trying to destroy Dr Fuhrman and it didn’t help. In fact, ironically, I found a package of nuts with turmeric and ginger and had some the past 2 days.

    Either way, I lost 2 pounds.

    I hope it still says that tomorrow.

  3. Deb, I did a search months ago online for dietition recommendations for qlater stages of kidney disease. Horrible. The vegan “diets” were less appealing than the others, if that is possible. Low potassium vegan foods are not great. My friend was told to eat more meat and seafood, white bread, doughnuts, anything… He passec away the night before his bypass surbery.

    So, my question is, (having had blood tests for potassium, creatinine, etc etc all ok). what do I eat to preserve GFR or even improve it? Will the 12 potassium laden fruit and veg I consume daily aggravate it?

      1. I remember that at the Food Revolution Summit last year, they spoke about someone else who reversed things like blindness and also got off of the Kidney transplant list with a Whole Food Plant Based diet.

        The part they didn’t get into was whether the person ate low potassium or not.

        Boy, I wonder if I could request that as a topic from Ocean and John Robbins. I am not talking science, I want to hear what the anecdotal persons actually ate.

        1. Thanks Deb for your replies. It is confusing because from what I understand, different stages of kidney disease requires specific dietary rules. I have seen most, if not all, Dr Greger’s kidney videos. I understand that wfpb is most protective, generally, for kidney function. However, a person with no kidney concerns might benefit most from wfpb, whereas someone who is trying to be careful might best avoid some foods. If that is true, I would prefer to learn sooner than later.

          Your point about translating diet restrictions into actual meals is well taken Deb. It’s what people need to know.

      2. Excellent Facebook Group called “Natural Kidney Journey” a plant based lifestyle support group that helps manage foods based on labs. I highly recommend it.

    1. Barb,

      Yes, suddenly, he could eat jelly beans and all sorts of things, but no fresh fruit and no kale. It was a whole long list of healthy foods forbidden and junk food and 5-egg omelets added.

    2. Barb,
      I know nothing about this but you got me curious and now my ignorance is a tad above 0. You might want to read the 2019 article:
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6627351/

      Vegetable-Based Diets for Chronic Kidney Disease? It Is Time to Reconsider

      and

      https://www.kidney.org/sites/default/files/12-10-4004_FAQ-ABE.pdf

      Pretty much any website describing eFGR testing will tell you that it is unreliable for various groups of people including older people, people with lots of muscle or very little muscle and for vegetarians.

      It seems to me only specialists are qualified to answer your question.

      1. Thank you gengo gakusha! Most of this info is new to me so I will be reading up tonight. It is a bit of relief to hear of the unreliability of the GFR, but think I will make an effort to stay better hydrated too. Thanks again!

      2. Thanks, Gengo.

        Reading the statistic on Phosphorous again: The bioavailability of phosphorus from animal sources reaches 80%, whereas intestinal absorption from a vegetarian source, which is mostly in the form of phytate, does not exceed 30% to 40%.

        So, I guess you can do the math of how much Phosphorous and then figure out how much you really are absorbing and count that way.

  4. My kidney lab work showed a steep decline in kidney function while I was on a vegan diet. I think I was getting too much plant protein and potassium. Plant protein consumed was higher than the 50 grams a day recommended amount. Potassium requirements have been raised to 4700 mg which is hard to achieve!! After the bad lab results I have reduced my protein and potassium and have added 1 5 ounce can of tuna a week and 2, 4 ounce servings of salmon a week. I feel much better.

    1. Cheryl,

      I understand that kidneys are so confusing and I am glad that you are feeling better.

      The thing is that people have reversed kidney disease with Whole Food Plant-Based vegan diets and adding animal proteins is worse for kidneys.

      But I do understand that it is what the doctors tend to say to do.

      1. I feel the need to put the video links here because plant protein doesn’t cause the same problem as animal protein and the same goes for potassium.

        From the blog: Due to toxic metal contamination, NeuG5c, alpha-gal, and advanced glycation end products (AGEs), meat (including poultry and processed meat), sugar, and high-fat meals should be avoided to maintain kidney health.

        This one is about staying low TMAO to prevent Kidney failure (the video starts with heart, but it is in there)

        https://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-to-treat-heart-failure-and-kidney-failure-with-diet/

        Protein source

        https://nutritionfacts.org/video/which-type-of-protein-is-better-for-our-kidneys/

        https://nutritionfacts.org/video/protein-source-an-acid-test-for-kidney-function/

        Potassium source

        https://nutritionfacts.org/video/treating-chronic-kidney-disease-with-food/

        Phosphorous

        https://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-to-avoid-phosphate-additives/

        Preventing and Treating Kidney failure

        https://nutritionfacts.org/video/preventing-kidney-failure-through-diet/

        https://nutritionfacts.org/video/treating-kidney-failure-through-diet/

    2. Interesting, Cheryl.

      Despite (from the blog) “Animal foods tend to be acid-forming—especially fish, which is the worst,” with you, fish was/is a life-saver to to speak?

      I guess it proves that everyone IS different.

      1. YR,

        What I will say, before Fumbles gets here to say it, is that “feels better” is a subjective measure and it doesn’t actually prove anything.

        My cousin “felt better” because he was obeying his doctor and had guidelines like never eat fresh fruit, just canned, etc. He didn’t like getting confused and just listened to the doctors and the nutritionists/dieticians, but he is considered terminal now and the only time he feels better now about 2 years later is when he gets things like diarrhea and probably stops eating the diet they told him to eat for a few days.

        1. There are anecdotal testimonials of people reversing kidney failure with WFPB.

          People get off the transplant list.

          The doctors tell you that it can’t be reversed.

            1. Yes, he doesn’t like anecdotal testimonials at all.

              I like them, but only when they are within a framework, which already matches the science.

              Someone reversing the need for a kidney transplant with diet, on WFPB interests me because they might have made specific choices to have it happen.

              Someone doing something odd interests me less.

  5. I can comment from personal experience. Back in 2016, my kidney function dropped in a matter of about six weeks (creatinine 0.6 Jan 3, to 6.8 Feb 23). I was in hospital for 10 days, and after a million tests, scans, and a kidney biopsy, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune kidney disease: RPGN. I did have to do a number of rounds of chemotherapy for six months, and then another 18 months of maintenance therapy. It was not pleasant, but it saved both my kidneys and my life.

    I have other co-morbid autoimmune issues (all currently in remission), and had some unpleasant side effects from the chemo, but for the last eight months I’ve leaned more and more toward a WFPB lifestyle, and watched my labs get better and better. For the last month, I’m down to about one meal per week that includes cheese, and I’ll be dropping that one soon as well. Because of all the good food, though, the only medication I’m still on is thyroid — and even that’s gone down. My kidney function has stabilized almost back where it was initially. The GFR is very slowly rising as well. I am very grateful to live in a time and place where those initial strong drugs were available in an emergency, but I’m even more grateful to have stumbled across WFPB living to maintain that successful healing, and keep it moving forward.

  6. Okay, so what still becomes confusing is whether while going WFPB, if they have to restrict anything within those plant categories.

    Do they need to watch the vegan WFPB proteins and potassium and phosphorous or are the okay just eating WFPB?

    Dr. Ornish, can I toss a concept that we need a kidney study eventually through this website comment section?

    I wonder if his site has a question section.

  7. Caution! I had Kidney stones due to oxalates in soy. Plants have toxins/adverse affects too. Dr Greger pointed out one point regarding protein but diet is complex. Balanced diet is best thing – check out work of Dr Chris Kresser for a balanced perspective. Neither doctor has all the answers. Its a balancing act for us lay people.

    1. Tonym,

      There was a huge variation of oxalates in soy products.

      TVP does have way too much 638 milligrams per serving.

      But Soy cheese, in contrast, was only 16 milligrams per serving.

      Plus, what you see as balanced, and what I see as balanced may be different.

      Yes, I would not eat too much TVP, but TVP isn’t WFPB anyway.

          1. Tonym,

            Thank you for bringing it up.

            For instance, Cheryl above could have been eating a lot of TVP or soy protein drinks, for instance, and that could be an example where something good for people, like soy, could suddenly become something harmful.

    2. Tonym,

      I ended up looking up Chris Kresser because I have heard his name before and wondered what he promotes and he is not an MD and he is also not a Nutritionist.

      He is an acupuncturist who is a cholesterol denialist and who is against vaccinations and he is pro-raw milk and pro a high-fat diet.

      Dr. Greger is a real MD and has an emphasis in Nutrition and we have been learning things which show the dangers of high-fat diets.

      1. Okay, for instance, Chris Kresser is pro-high fat and cholesterol, but here is the other side of the argument, which Dr. Greger gives.

        From his transcript:

        ” In 1982, this idea of lipid nephrotoxicity was formalized, the possibility that fat and cholesterol in the bloodstream could be toxic to the kidneys directly, based on data like this, showing plugs of fat literally clogging up the works in autopsied kidneys.

        Since the notion was put forth, it has gained momentum. It appears high cholesterol and fat in the bloodstream may accelerate progression of chronic kidney disease through direct toxic effects on the kidney cells themselves.

        Given the connection between cholesterol and kidney decline, the use of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs has been recommended to slow the progression of kidney disease. Of course, serious adverse effects on muscles and the liver must be kept in mind. That’s why plant-based diets could offer the best of both worlds, protecting the heart and the kidneys without drug side effects.”

  8. The information you have written is great and all but what can a person do if they already have kidney disease and are on dialysis? They can’t have much potassium which a lot of veggies have.

      1. Also, you can lower the potassium level of plant-foods by soaking and rinsing and soaking and rinsing and cooking in lots of water.

        Or boil for a little while, pour the water out and boil again.

        I can’t remember the exact formula, but what I remember from doing the process with my cousin is that if you don’t cook it all the way the first boil, it is easier to not cook things to death.

    1. Hi Sarah,
      thank you for your question. Dietitians suguest Phosphorus Binders based on the doctors approval of diet. Binders grab onto phosphorus released from your food in the stomach so it cannot be absorbed into your blood. If you’ve been prescribed binders, be sure to take ‘em!
      Going for fresh food and home cooking is a great option. Avoid Packaged/Processed Foods. The chemical form of phosphorus (also called inorganic phosphorus) is added to packaged foods to preserve it and add flavor and/or texture. This type of phosphorus absorbs in high amounts into the blood. Read packages carefully. Look for words containing ‘PHOS’ in the ingredient list. Too many ‘PHOS’ ingredients? Skip it and find a better snack.
      Eat Fruits and Vegetables.
      It’s usually a great idea to work in more fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet. But, before you do, it’s also a good idea to check in with your nephrology dietitian.
      Eating more fruit and vegetables can increase the amount of potassium, a mineral people with kidney disease find hard to filter out of their body. Your dietitian will help you figure out how to incorporate more plant-based foods into your life for a diet that’s perfect for you. Soaking your potatoes taking the skin off all helps to reduce the potassium. I hope these are helpful.

      1. Phosphates are added to a lot of non dairy milks also. (Unfortunately you have to read the ingredients list on everything you buy.)
        Soft drinks are loaded with them. But no one here drinks that stuff, right?

        Another ingredient to avoid is caramel color. Many products, including most balsamic vinegars have it. I found one recently made in Italy that has the preferred grape musts instead. I like it on steamed kale and collards.

        1. Thanks for sharing that, Marilyn.

          WestSoy is just soybeans and water.

          I drink oat milk without oil, but I don’t know whether Phosphates are in it.

          What do the Phosphates do? Why would they put them in?

  9. I was diagnosed a few years ago with stage 3 kidney disease. My diagnosis was completely out of the blue, as I’m not diabetic and felt fine. My only clue to the cause was that I also had high cholesterol. As one who has been mostly vegetarian for many years and only sometimes vegan, I decided to go back to a plant-based diet and see if getting my cholesterol down (which I knew from experience would happen) would help my kidneys. Sure enough, when I was rechecked later my cholesterol was down a lot and my kidney function was back to normal.

    Now, my doctor had never mentioned a “renal diet” to me, so I went on eating the same, not cutting out bread, beans, potatoes, or anything except animal products. And I did fine. So it’s a surprise now to read that these foods can be a problem. But as I think about it, phosphorus and potassium aren’t high in my diet anyway. I drink mostly plain water and don’t eat a whole lot of packaged foods. When I’ve used diet apps to see if I’m getting my nutrients, it always shows me getting about half the recommended amount of potassium (although my potassium is in the normal range when my blood is tested). Like some of you I have to wonder, does someone on a WFPB diet really need to worry about potassium? My guess is probably not, unless they are eating a ton of beans every day or some other imbalance. Or, if they are only partially vegan so that they’re still getting lots of phosphorus and potassium from meat/dairy and also from the plant foods. I’m not a doctor and admittedly I only had stage 3, but from my own experience I’m not going to worry about those things as long as I can keep my cholesterol down and stay away from the pizza.

    1. Hi Carolyn, thanks for your comment and sharing your story. I think you are wise to be following wfpb diet approach. I thought I mention a few points. As you realize limiting or monitoring your intake of foods with sodium, potassium and phosphorus is important. Try to cook at home more and avoid eating out/eating convenience foods, which are typically high in sodium/salt. Do not use salt when cooking food or add extra salt to meals.
      Avoid high-sodium foods (many packaged foods) by carefully reading labels. Avoiding Any food that has more than 300 milligrams sodium per serving. Also foods that have salt in the first 4 or 5 items in the ingredient list. Making home made meals at home would be a better option.
      To help manage blood sugar levels, eat “balanced meals” that include a source of protein, healthy fat and complex carb.
      To avoid getting too much of one mineral, eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. This provides you with nutrients without overloading how much potassium you’re consuming.
      Using herbs and spices such as black pepper, red pepper flakes, cumin, chili powder, garlic and onion (both granulated), dried oregano, smoked paprika, fresh cilantro, fresh basil, fresh scallions, fresh lemon and lime zest, and rosemary.
      Limiting dairy produce if consumed at all.
      Talk to your doctor about whether you need to limit protein intake, since this depends on the specific patient.
      You should also speak with your doctor about how much fluids you should be consuming, since some patients need to decrease fluid intake and other need to increase it. I wish you all the best.

      1. Spring,

        The sources I see recommend replacing whole grains with refined grains, such as white bread.

        So, is that where we just quit eating grains at that point?

          1. My cousin said that the most frustrating part is that some of the dieticians just do a Diabetes diet and others do a Renal diet and others switch to a Dialysis diet, but when he goes into the hospital and rehab, they don’t seem to be doing any of it and some of the dieticians don’t switch off of Diabetes diets, and he yells at them and says, “But I need a diet which is also renal and dialysis now.”

  10. Davita has a list of high and low potassium fruits and vegetables, though remember that you can lower the potassium of some things by preparation.

    The National Kidney Foundation advises soaking thin slices of peeled, high-potassium vegetables in warm water for at least two hours, then rinsing the vegetables before cooking them in a large amount of water — about five times more water than vegetables to lower the potassium content.

    https://www.davita.com/diet-nutrition/articles/basics/potassium-and-chronic-kidney-disease

    So does renal.org

    https://renal.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/KCUK-Potassium_web.pdf

    1. Thank you so much. I was asking for my mom, I really want her to get off of dialysis and hopefully be able to feel more herself again. Dialysis makes her so tired, however she still gets around. I don’t know if she will adopt a WFPD due to her traditional ways. But hopefully I can teach her.

      1. Sarah,

        Hugs to you!

        It is so hard to watch our loved ones go through things!

        I willl say some prayers for her.

        My cousin has the same thing. Dialysis wipes him totally out.

        The fact that he suddenly had one good week and that week was exceptional, makes me think tweaking his diet could really change something for him, but kidney diets are so confusing to people that I am not sure that he is up to that process.

        1. I posted this before, whenever…

          I knew a guy, Frank by the name, who got SO tired of having to do the dialysis trek two or three times a week — week after week — that he told everybody he refused to go anymore. That he’d rather die.

          So die, he did — not long after his announcement.

          1. YR,

            Yeah, my cousin has talked about whether he wants to live or die versus dialysis.

            He doesn’t like most of his doctors at all and feels like they are so hard-hearted that he would rather just die than keep putting up with them.

            The one he liked retired.

            He was a caretaker for decades and doesn’t understand modern anti-caretaker society.

            So far, he hasn’t chosen to die, but I do know that it is real.

            Today, I found out that my relative who is in his 90’s and has been doing well was told that his heart rate is too low and that he should get a pacemaker and he is deciding whether his time is up or to do it. He is so vibrant and active that I am not sure what he will choose.

            There is an end to this part of life.

        2. For me, the tofu, edamame, tempeh, plus this list of whole grains makes it so much more workable.

          Whole grains with lower potassium and phosphorus content:

          Barley
          Buckwheat (kasha)
          Bulgur
          Popcorn
          Wild rice
          Pasta
          Couscous

          Rye bread is on their bread list and that is probably better than white bread.
          A hospital list sample meal for Dialysis had things like

          The breakfast list was things like oatmeal and blueberries with flaxseed and soy milk.

          Samples of their snack list were things like

          1/4 cup Hummus with 1/2 cup broccoli, 1/2 cup celery and 2 rye crackers ( I love the light rye crisps from Wasa with no-oil hummus, so that would help me tremendously if I was the one)

          hot cereal with 1/4 cup of walnuts and 1 cup of rice beverage and 1/2 cup of pineapple.

          apple with 1/4 cup macadamia nuts

          2 tablespoons tahini with 8 crackers.

          Fruit salad

          For lunches they gave a sample of

          1 cup quinoa, 3 falafel balls, 1 cup salad, 2 tablespoons seeds, dressing

          They had another also with salad with tempeh and applesauce.

          For dinner, they had a sample of

          1 cup tabbouleh, ½ cup firm tofu, 1 cup grilled eggplant and zucchini

          Here is another list.

          This one you could probably print out to help figure out how to divide the foods. There are things like mushrooms in the low category and mushrooms really help to make meals more filling.

          http://www.wrha.mb.ca/extranet/nutrition/files/ClientEd-Renal-Potassium06.pdf

  11. In practice, what would a healthy plant based diet look like if the goal is to prevent kidney disease? So far I’ve only seen purple cabbage recommended. Is there a list of foods that one should mindfully include in their diet?

    1. Samuel,

      I think the first sentence listing the factors involved is what is important and that isn’t about what to eat, it is about what not to eat.

      Harvard researchers found three significant dietary risk factors for declining kidney function: “animal protein, animal fat, and cholesterol.”

      The video adds in sodium and acid is mentioned (plant foods are not acidic, but soda, would be my mental example of what not to drink)

      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-not-to-die-from-kidney-disease/

      You want to:

      Not smoke
      Not drink much alcohol
      Not eat animal products
      Not use salt
      Not eat processed foods
      Not be sedentary

      The thing you do want to do

      Drink enough water
      Eat a well-balanced plant-based diet

      The other thing to watch out for is that you don’t want to eat too much spinach.

      Some is excellent. 7 cups a day could kill you by shutting your kidneys down.
      If you are prone to kidney stones do Kale instead.

  12. Hi Samuel Linen Jr – Thanks for your question! There is no specific list of foods to provide you that will help prevent kidney disease. The overall goal is to include as many plant-based foods in your diet as you can, including all fruits & veggies, a variety of whole grains, plenty of legumes, nuts, and seeds. This should be done while limiting animal-based foods as much as possible.

    Here is a video for more information on preventing/treating kidney disease: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/treating-chronic-kidney-disease-with-food/. Dr. Greger notes that many people die from heart disease before they even reach kidney failure, so the best diet to choose for preventing both heart disease and kidney disease is a more plant-predominant diet.

    There are many whole-food, plant-based cookbooks available to help give you ideas on the variety of foods you can include at meals. Check out the “How Not to Die” cookbook here: https://nutritionfacts.org/cookbook/

    I hope this helps answer your question!
    -Janelle RD (Registered Dietitian & NutritionFacts.org Health Support Volunteer)

  13. So I know I’m just one person, but here’s my story. I lived with heart failure for 5 years. Two days before I turned 23 I had a heart transplant, that was nearly a decade ago. Immunosuppressive medications are hard on the kidneys to begin with. So over the last 9 years, my eGFR. I stopped eating meat two years ago & gave up my occasional alcohol filled wild nights. My eGFR has gone from 58 to 87. 90 and above is normal. My transplant team tried to make fun of my “vegan diet” and tried to tell me my potassium was “rising steadily”. It’s not -_- My potassium numbers are steady and have not drastically declined or increased. And of course I got a question about Protein.

  14. Where does this come from?: “Harvard researchers found three significant dietary risk factors for declining kidney function: “’animal protein, animal fat, and cholesterol.’” I don’t see it in the abstract.

    In fact, the abstract specifies that a statistically significant decline in kidney function was only found with red meat (2 servings/wk) and that, “No significant associations were seen for other types of protein…”

    How is this discrepancy reconciled (red meat only vs animal protein in general)?

  15. Unless I am misunderstanding some facts, maybe Dr. Greger should have added his recommended Amla powder to the list of Oxalate foods to avoid. (My references are listed in parenthesis at the end of each statement and links listed at the end).
    Dr. Greger warned us that other high-oxalate foods that have been associated with kidney problems at high enough doses include a single dose of about a cup and a quarter of star fruit juice, or just 4-6 fruit (1). In his video on star fruit he said, star fruit, which you can often find in the tropical produce section at large supermarkets is harmful enough to shut down our kidneys. Acute oxalate nephropathy, caused by the extraordinarily high oxalate content (2).
    Dr. Greger said he takes a tsp of Amla powder in his smoothies for breakfast (3).
    An article I found on the internet stated that very high levels of total oxalates were measured in 2 imported fruits, Indian gooseberry (Phyllanthus emblica L.) and carambola (Averrhoa carambola L., star fruit), at 7566.5, and 436.1 mg/100 g FW, respectively, and their soluble oxalates were also the highest measured of all the fruits (4). That showed that Indian goose berries had over 17 times as much oxalates as star fruit and since it applied to whole fruit I don’t know if the powdered forms were worse, much worse, or better, I also read that in another report that the reported oxalate content of foods varies by a very wide margin (5), so I don’t know how that would affect any result/conclusion/advice/danger. I leave the whole analysis up to the experts like Dr. Greger and his staff, but I do think the whole subject of the safety of Amla powder should be addressed unless I am misunderstanding something.
    References:
    1. https://youtu.be/Eg5ksHXQavk
    2. https://youtu.be/19jF5eNi2tk
    3. https://youtu.be/N0QbVYoKe5g
    4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889157513000732
    5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25168533
    Oxalate content of food: a tangled web.
    CONCLUSION:
    Wide variations exist in the reported oxalate content of foods across several Web-based sources and smartphone applications, several of which are substantial and can have a sizable impact on the construction of a low oxalate diet. As dietary counseling has proven benefits, patients and caregivers should be aware of the heterogeneity that exists in the reported oxalate content of foods.

  16. Hi, Al Young! There are several cited studies in this blog and companion video, which may be found by clicking the “Sources Cited” link under the video window. This study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20299364 linked animal fat and red meat with kidney function decline. This one: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21880837 more broadly associates a Western-style diet with increased risk of kidney disease. This study compared the effects of a protein load with tuna fish with one from bean curd in diabetics: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2609333 As this article states, the key appears to be dietary acid load: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25151260, with is higher with animal protein than with plant foods. I hope that helps!

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