Plant Protein Reduces Mortality Risk in Chronic Kidney Disease Patients

RESEARCH from the University of Utah School of Medicine (UUSOM) has demonstrated that consuming a high plant-based to total protein ratio can significantly reduce the risk of death in chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients.

“We know that moderate restriction of total protein intake is probably important to preserve kidney function in people with CKD, however, the effect of sources of protein on overall health in CKD has not been well studied,” said Dr Srinivasan Beddhu, UUSOM, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. “Our research indicates that plant-based proteins could play an important role in improving the health outcomes for people with decreased kidney function.”

Researchers analysed health information from 14,866 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III, 1,065 of whom were classified as having CKD (defined as having an estimated glomerular filtration rate [eGFR] <60). Dietary information was collected in 24-hour dietary recall interviews. After adjusting for age, gender, race, and lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol use, comorbidities, body mass index, physical inactivity, and total protein and calorie intake, a significantly lower risk of death was seen in patients with CKD; every 33% increase in the ratio of plant to total protein consumed was associated with a 23% reduction in mortality risk. The health-preserving benefit was not, however, present in individuals with an eGFR ≥60.

“Previous studies have shown that the rate of intestinal phosphorus absorption is higher from animal protein than plant-based protein,” commented Mr Thomas Manley, National Kidney Foundation, New York City, New York, USA. “Higher blood phosphorus levels are associated with increased mortality in both people with CKD and the general population. This may be one plausible explanation for the higher death rates in CKD patients who consume larger amounts of animal protein.”

Following recent headlines highlighting the negative health effects of processed meats for the general population, these results suggest that CKD patients may benefit further by paying even closer attention to their intake of animal proteins, and by adding plant proteins such as tofu to their diet.

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