How Not to Die from Kidney Disease

How Not to Die from Kidney Disease
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What are the three significant dietary risk factors for declining kidney function?

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Kidney failure may be both prevented and treated with a plant-based diet—and no wonder; kidneys are highly vascular organs. 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, based on studies like this, showing plugs of fat literally clogging up the works in autopsied human kidneys.

And, the animal protein can have a profound effect on normal kidney function—inducing what’s called hyperfiltration (increasing the workload of the kidneys); but, not plant protein. Eat a meal of tuna fish, and you can see the increased pressure on the kidneys go up within one, two, three hours after the meal, in both nondiabetics and diabetics. So, we’re not talking adverse effects decades down the road, but literally within hours of it going into our mouth.

Now, if instead of having a tuna salad sandwich, though, you had a tofu salad sandwich, with the exact same amount of protein, what happens? No effect. Dealing with plant protein is no problem.

Why does animal protein cause the overload reaction, but not plant protein? It appears to be due to the inflammation triggered by the consumption of animal products. How do we know that? Because, if you give a powerful, anti-inflammatory drug along with that tuna fish, you can abolish the hyperfiltration protein leakage response to meat ingestion.

Then, there’s the acid load. Animal foods—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, then pork and poultry—whereas plant foods tend to be relatively neutral, or actually alkaline (base-forming) to counteract the acid.  So, the key to halting the progression of chronic kidney disease might be in the produce market, rather than the pharmacy.

No wonder plant-based diets have been used to treat kidney disease for decades. Here’s protein leakage on the conventional low sodium diet, which is what physicians would typically put someone with declining kidney function on. Switched to a supplemented vegan diet; then back to conventional; plant-based; conventional; plant-based—turning on and off kidney dysfunction like a light switch, based on what was going into their mouths.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Videography courtesy of Grant Peacock

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Kidney failure may be both prevented and treated with a plant-based diet—and no wonder; kidneys are highly vascular organs. 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, based on studies like this, showing plugs of fat literally clogging up the works in autopsied human kidneys.

And, the animal protein can have a profound effect on normal kidney function—inducing what’s called hyperfiltration (increasing the workload of the kidneys); but, not plant protein. Eat a meal of tuna fish, and you can see the increased pressure on the kidneys go up within one, two, three hours after the meal, in both nondiabetics and diabetics. So, we’re not talking adverse effects decades down the road, but literally within hours of it going into our mouth.

Now, if instead of having a tuna salad sandwich, though, you had a tofu salad sandwich, with the exact same amount of protein, what happens? No effect. Dealing with plant protein is no problem.

Why does animal protein cause the overload reaction, but not plant protein? It appears to be due to the inflammation triggered by the consumption of animal products. How do we know that? Because, if you give a powerful, anti-inflammatory drug along with that tuna fish, you can abolish the hyperfiltration protein leakage response to meat ingestion.

Then, there’s the acid load. Animal foods—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, then pork and poultry—whereas plant foods tend to be relatively neutral, or actually alkaline (base-forming) to counteract the acid.  So, the key to halting the progression of chronic kidney disease might be in the produce market, rather than the pharmacy.

No wonder plant-based diets have been used to treat kidney disease for decades. Here’s protein leakage on the conventional low sodium diet, which is what physicians would typically put someone with declining kidney function on. Switched to a supplemented vegan diet; then back to conventional; plant-based; conventional; plant-based—turning on and off kidney dysfunction like a light switch, based on what was going into their mouths.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Videography courtesy of Grant Peacock

Doctor's Note

The first time someone visits NutritionFacts.org can be overwhelming. With videos on more than 2,000 health topics, where do you even begin? Imagine stumbling onto the site not knowing what to expect and the new video-of-the-day is about how a particular spice can be effective in treating a particular form of arthritis. It would be easy to miss the forest for the trees, which is precisely why I created a new series of overview videos that are essentially taken straight from my live, hour-long 2016 presentation HOW NOT TO DIE: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers.

For the other videos in this overview series, see:

Inspired to learn more about the role diet may play in preventing and treating kidney disease? Check out these other popular videos on the topic:

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