'Western' Diet May Raise Risk of Kidney Function Decline

FRIDAY Jan. 28, 2011 -- A Western-type diet that's high in red and processed meats, saturated fats and sweets is associated with an increased risk of kidney function decline, a new study reveals.

U.S. researchers examined the effects that three different dietary patterns -- Western, "Prudent" and DASH-style -- had on the kidney function of 3,121 women over 11 years. The women were participants in the Nurses' Health Study.

The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension) diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy foods and is low in saturated fat, total fat and cholesterol. A prudent diet features plenty of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, poultry and fish, according to the report.

Kidney function was assessed using two different methods: estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), which measures how well the kidney filters blood; and the presence of microalbuminuria, a urinary protein that is a marker of vascular disease and inflammation.

Overall, the women in the study had well-functioning kidneys. But the researchers found that a Western diet was associated with increased levels of albuminuria and increased risk of rapid eGFR decline. This was not the case with the other diets.

The study is published online and in the February print issue of the American Journal of Kidney Disease.

"The kidney is a highly vascular organ, so we were not surprised to see that the Western diet, which has been linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, is also associated with kidney function decline over time," lead author Dr. Julie Lin, a physician in the renal division at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, said in a hospital news release.

"Interestingly, this finding, along with other research, adds to growing evidence that albuminuria, which is widely considered to be an early reflection of vascular disease, may be influenced by diet," she added.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about kidneys and how they work.

Posted: January 2011


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