Vegetarian Diet And Kidney Disease

Recent Study: Kidney Disease Patients on Vegetarian Diet Can Lower Blood, Urine Phosphorus Levels

Kidney disease patients who maintain a vegetarian diet see their phosphorus levels descend dramatically, a recent study showed. The results were scheduled for publication in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN). They suggest that patients with kidney disease can prevent the toxic accumulation of phosphorus in their bodies by eating vegetables and eliminating meat.

An inability to rid the body of extra phosphorus – a common food additive, and a common element in proteins – is characteristic of kidney disease. Because high phosphorus levels can bring on fatal heart disease, kidney disease sufferers must be careful to keep their intake of the mineral down. This can be difficult; though chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients are advised by doctors to keep to a low phosphorus diet, the amounts of the mineral is not shown on food labels.

The current study of vegetarian vs. meat-containing diets was done by Sharon Moe, MD (Indiana University School of Medicine and Roudebush Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center) and her colleagues. Participating CKD patients ate either a vegetarian or meat-based diet for one week, and then switched diets between two and four weeks later. Each week-long regime was followed by blood and urine testing.

Both diets contained equivalent protein and phosphorus concentration. However, the vegetarian diet patients had decreased blood phosphorus levels and less excreted phosphorus in their urine than did the meat diet patients. The study did not undertake to discover the cause of the difference. But a diet based on grains has a lower protein-to-phosphate ratio than one that contains meat – and a high proportion of those phosphates is in a form, phytate, which the human body does not absorb.

The conclusion reached by the team was that, for CKD patients, there is a strong relationship between the source of dietary proteins and the amount of phosphorus in their bodies. They suggest that CKD patients should receive dietary counseling both about the importance of controlling phosphorus intake and the different protein sources of phosphorus. The study says, “These results, if confirmed in longer studies, provide rationale for recommending a predominance of grain-based vegetarian sources of protein to patients with CKD. This diet would allow increased protein intake without adversely affecting phosphorus levels.”

This study was co-authored with Dr. Moe by: Miriam Zidehsarai, MD, Mary Chambers, RN, Laurie Trevino, MS (Indiana University School of Medicine); Lisa Jackman, MS, J. Scott Radcliffe, PhD (Purdue University); Susan Donahue, MBA, and John Asplin, MD (Litholink, Inc.)

Journal Reference:

1. Sharon M. Moe, Miriam P. Zidehsarai, Mary A. Chambers, Lisa A. Jackman, J. Scott Radcliffe, Laurie L. Trevino, Susan E. Donahue, and John R. Asplin. Vegetarian Compared with Meat Dietary Protein Source and Phosphorus Homeostasis in Chronic Kidney Disease. Clinical Journal of the American Society Nephrology, December 23, 2010 DOI: 10.2215/CJN.05040610

American Society of Nephrology (2010, December 23). Kidney disease patients: Vegetarian diet lowers blood and urine

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