Currently more than 15% of adults in the United States are living with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Diabetes is the leading cause of CKD. Hispanic Americans are more likely to develop diabetes, which also increases their risk of developing kidney disease. Diabetes is associated with high levels of blood sugar over time that can damage small blood vessels in the body and affect how efficiently kidneys rid your body of toxins. CKD nutrition guidelines used to encourage the limitation of certain nutrients like sodium, phosphorous, and potassium, which inevitably limits many plant foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that are higher in these nutrients.
However, emerging research suggests that eating patterns associated with better kidney health conditions include the Mediterranean, DASH, Nordic, and vegan/vegetarian diets, all of which put a heavy emphasis on plant-based foods. Reduced protein intake is still recommended for individuals with CKD stages 3 through 5 who are “metabolically stable” and not receiving dialysis.
While more studies need to be conducted to determine which protein type (animal or plant protein) is best, diets favoring plant-based foods have several other beneficial effects on the body, such as increased fiber consumption, which can help lower blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels, improve the gut microbiome profile, reduce availability of certain nutrients such as phosphorus and potassium, and help promote a healthy weight. Additional benefits of plant protein consumption may include decreased inflammation, less uremic toxins, and reduced metabolic acidosis.
Written by Victoria Luera, Lone Star Circle of Care Registered Dietitian. Submitted by Ashley Wild.